New cookware

Discussion in 'Cooking Equipment Reviews' started by benzbilly, Feb 16, 2012.

  1. benzbilly

    benzbilly

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    Hello cheftalk forum, how goes it? Good, I hope. I'm new here, this is my first post, but I've been lurking for a while and gathering info. Thank you all for the advice, even though you didn't know you were giving it. I like cooking but the cookware that I and my girlfriend have is garbage, except for the new Wusthof knives I just bought. I also think that I would enjoy cooking A LOT more if I had cookware that was better. I won't mind paying for good stuff but I can't justify paying for top shelf pieces because I'm not at that level yet. So, without further adieu, here is my list and I would appreciate your thoughts.

    Mauviel M'Cook 5 piece stainless steel set

    Mauviel M'Cook 6.4 qt stew pot w/lid

         steamer and pasta cooker inserts- I'm not sure if I really need the Mauviel pieces. Are they that much better than another 

         stainless pot with these inserts?

    Bourgeat Black Steel frying pan

    Lodge or Le Creuset cast iron frying pan-haven't decided which one yet. I like Lodge stuff, we've got a dutch oven that I use all the

         time to make chili. Is Le Creuset substanially better than Lodge, or any other brand?

    I'm sure there is more to add but this is what I'm going to start with. Any other suggestions would be welcome  /img/vbsmilies/smilies/drinkbeer.gif
     
  2. jimbo68

    jimbo68

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    If cost is any factor, I bought a set of store brand from Costco this past Christmas for my son, and I am impressed with the quality.  Around $150 the set if I recall.  All fairly useful pots and pans.  If I remember, the larger pot had a steamer, pasta insert.  You may not need a pasta/stew pot.
     
  3. benzbilly

    benzbilly

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    Cost isn't a huge factor. Like I said, I don't mind paying a bit more for quality but I'm not gonna be silly about my selections. I actually checked that set out at Costco and I'm not entirely turned off by it. I'll definitely do a little more research on the set. I think I would get a lot of use out of a big stew pot. We make mashed taters and cook pasta quite a bit. My question is about the cost/intended use factor. Does an expensive stew pot with the inserts really make that big of a difference over a setup that is relatively inexpensive but still pretty good quality?
     
  4. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    It depends.  Lots of it depends on what you like to cook.

    For the big stuff, I like the disk bottom pans. So stockpots and such are quite affordable and cook well with the heavy disk base and are fairly inexpensive. No reason to pay for the clad walls and they perform well for the money. A 12 quart stockpot is must have. Very versatile and still cooks small amounts well. A smaller 6-8 quart "stockpot" is convenient, but not needed. I find those small to call a stockpot though.

    An enamel coated dutch oven is nice too.

    When it comes to saucepans and skillets I like clad pans. These must have metal handles so I can stuff them in the oven at any temp and have full versatility. You can spend in a wide range in this area. All-Clad is the big name, here, but for 1/3 the cost, you can get Tramontina tri-ply pans quite reasonably. Shoping the sales at Bed Bath and Beyond you can buy good clad pans like Calphalon in the $50 range for a 12" clad skillet.  Walmart has a pretty good deal on a clad Tramontina set. Worth looking at. http://www.walmart.com/ip/Tramontin...nless-Steel-TriPly-Clad-Cookware-Set/11072505 and I'm not normally a fan of sets. Only available on-line.

    A cast iron or carbon steel fry pan is good to have here too.

    I like having a 10" and 12" teflon coated aluminum pan. These are usually inexpensive, around $20, again with metal handles. Finding them with the metal handles is the hard part surprisingly. I use these for eggs, one skillet casseroles from the stove top to the oven, fish and so on. Inexpensive to replace as needed.

    I usually buy teflon in advance of need so I have back up pans available when the coating dies in the one in use as the metal handled ones are a bit scarce.

    I use a disk based sauteuse pan a lot too as it's good for many braises and other one pot meals. When I replace this pan, I'll look at clad versions, but the disk base has performed quite well and will probably stick with the one I have a long time.

    A general set up would look something like this:

    12 quart stock pot, disk based. Pasta insert nice to have but not needed.

    6 quart enameld cast iron dutch oven

    10 and 12" clad skillets

    2 qt and 4 qt clad saucepans

    12" cast iron or carbon steel skillet

    10 and 12" teflon aluminum pans

    Lids that fit each pan. A lid for a skillet is a very handy thing to have.

    Specialty wares added as needed. I'm no fan of 8" skillets. I think they're too small for most purposes except maybe omelets. But many people love them.
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2012
  5. benzbilly

    benzbilly

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    Thank you for the info! But now I have some more questions.

    Is there an advantage to an enamel coated dutch oven? I have a lodge cast iron dutch oven, 6 qt maybe, that I absolutely love. It makes a mean batch of chili. I'm not sure I will need anything bigger right now but maybe in the future.

    I got a 12" Lodge cast iron skillet this weekend. Should I get a carbon steel frying pan also? Or are they just different versions of the same thing?

    I would rather not get anything teflon. A friend of mine said he gets headaches from anything made in a teflon pan and I always thought he was crazy. But I noticed that I would have a headache after a weekend where I cooked breakfast stuff in a teflon pan. After I got my Lodge I haven't had a headache. This could be TOTALLY coincidence but it's intersting. I also take good care of my cast iron stuff so non-stick stuff isn't really a big deal

    I also understand not liking sets of stuff. I look for the biggest set, sometimes only 5 pieces, that I know I would use all the pieces.
     
  6. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    Coated cast iron in non reactive making it good for long slow wet cooking like braising and so on. You could likely do an even better chili in a coated one.

    Carbon steel performs much like cast iron but is a little lighter and doesn't hold a patina quite as well. Cast iron is much easier to find in the US.

    No reason to get teflon if you don't like it. You'll notice I only listed fairly low temp uses for teflon as its the higher temp cooking where teflon is demonstrably problematic.
     
  7. benzbilly

    benzbilly

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    Ooh, better chili...yum

    I may hold off on the carbon steel pan. There is a restaurant supply store not far from where I work so it's close if I decide to get one.

    Is there a difference in brands of enamel coated cast iron? More specifically, is Le Creuset really that much better than Lodge or are they too close to call? The price of Le Creuset isn't a deal breaker but I have had good luck with all the other Lodge pieces I have
     
  8. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    I haven't heard much about it one way or the other.  It's probably decent. There are other brands like Tramontina that are pretty good too. Le Creuset is pretty pricey but is known to be quite good.
     
  9. benzbilly

    benzbilly

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    So, I know I said I was going to wait to get a carbon steel skillet but I couldn't resist. I was at a friends house this weekend and he fixed lunch in his Bourgeat pan. We got to talking and he said it's his go-to pan. The only thing he doesn't like is that it's already warped. He takes pretty good care of his cookware so I kinda ruled Bourgeat out. I went to Williams and Sonoma and bought a 12" De Buyer Mineral pan. Now all I have to do is start seasoning it. But...Yay, I got a new pan!
     
  10. carpenter

    carpenter

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    Take a look at Volrath's Tribute line.  They're made in the USA (don't waste your money or pride buying chinese), and are comparable to AllClad but with better lips and handles.  I think that they run 2/3 the price of AllClad.
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2012
  11. kitson

    kitson

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    I don't know more about cookware,but I think that interest in cooking is a more important thing. So I don't care about the cookware,and I just enjoy myself when I am cooking./img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif
     
  12. chefedb

    chefedb

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    Commercial places use a lot of Volrath, they are built for heavy usage. With the exception of their new full and half sheet pans which are like aluminum foil to thin and light. To bake cake or cookies you must stack 2, one on the other, to avoid under burning. Try another brand.
     
  13. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    Mauviel is excellent, beautiful, comfortable, well-built, and about as cookware gets in every way.  Be aware though that you don't need to spend anywhere near that amount of money from a performance standpoint, and the world's best cookware won't make you a better cook. 



    If it matters -- and it really shouldn't -- most of our "core set" is Mauviel M'Heritage 250 (thick copper with a stainless interior), and the remainder is All Clad stainless.  



    Vollrath Tribute is very high performing.  But it's as ugly as can be unless you really like the industrial look.  When we replaced our old Calphalon Professional (no longer made).  From a pure performance standpoint you can't beat it.  Ugly though.  Did I mention that it's ugly? 



    When you're talking about pans used with a lot of liquid, even-heating isn't as big an issue because the liquid itself heats evenly.  So disk bottom stock pots really work just as well as those which are multi-ply all the way up the sides.



    There are a LOT of good multi-ply pans on the market at a wide range of prices.  When it comes to any pan with a stainless interior mostly used to sear, saute, or shallow fry (in other words, skillets, frying pans and saute pans), you really want some sort of multi-ply -- usually tri-ply -- to help spread the heat evenly and prevent warping.  As a rule, the more upscale brands really are better performers than their cheaper brethren, or pans with disk bottoms. 



    Generally, you get what you pay for -- but don't forget to hold on to the perspective that the world's greatest equipment won't make you a good cook.



    Some people want sets for a consistent look and some people want sets because of the price savings.  So, while a matched or nearly matched set of cookware won't do your cooking any good -- you may want it anyway.  Also, sets help with the problem of having enough lids to fit all your pans which need lids.



    You need a "spaghetti set" with a stainless stock pot and two nesting strainer/steamers.  Even though it will see a lot of use, this is a good place to stop hemorrhaging cash and go for the disk bottom and/or "Tramontina." 



    Enamel over cast and plain cast iron are very different things.  Cast iron doesn't do well with long-simmering stews and braises which contain a lot of wine and/or tomatoes.  Among other things it can impart an off taste.  On the other hand, enamel over cast doesn't do the whole "non-stick" thing nearly as well, it stains, scratches and can sometimes chip.  



    Are La Creuset and Staub enamel over cast-iron pieces worth their enormous premium?  From a pure performance standpoint, probably not.  After all, a new Rolls Royce is not a 10 year old Hyundai, but both will get you to the store.  That said, we have a fair bit of La Cresuset and a Staub "Coq au Vin" (all -- trust me -- bought on sale) and love them.  The best.  We also have a couple of Lodge skillets, a Lodge Griddle/Grill, and a Lodge Dutch Oven.  Great stuff.



    I hate "non-stick" and become irrational on the subject, so don't ask me.



    On the other hand, I love using well seasoned carbon steel and cast iron for their "non-stickness," as well some of their other properties.  My ideal set (which I'm very lucky to have) includes a motley of multi-ply with stainless interiors, some carbon, some cast, and some enamel over iron.



    You didn't go deeply into your reasoning when you talked about what you were planning so it's impossible to say if you're doing the right thing for the right reasons.  So far you've made some good choices.  At the end of the day they may or may not prove best for your individual situation, but you're looking at really good stuff and no one can say you're on the wrong track.



    BDL
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2012
  14. benzbilly

    benzbilly

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    Thanks to all who contributed! Thanks especially to BDL for the uber-thorough response.

    I understand that the best stuff won't make me a better cook. I found a good price on the Mauviel stainless set though so I might as well consider it. I will also check out the Volrath Tribute stuff also, even though it is fugly.

    BDL, I'm right there with you on the subject of "non-stick" cookware.

    I think the next stuff I should upgrade are our sauce pans. The Mauviel stainless set comes with a 1.9qt and a 3.4qt sauce pan. Would these two sizes be adequate for starters or are there better or more practical sizes that I should buy individually? I'm not doing anything exotic right now. In fact, my girlfriend is probably going to make macaroni and cheese in it before I get to experiment with anything cool.
     
  15. michaelga

    michaelga

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    Just one further point that I didn't notice - what type of range are you using?

    Most of the recommendations are for cooking on flame.  If you are stuck with a glass top - induction or coils then the situation changes greatly.  Most of the above don't do glass tops very well as you need a very flat bottom, ie. cast aluminum or very carefully with cast iron. 
     
  16. benzbilly

    benzbilly

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    Oooh, ok. I am cooking on a glass top stove. What should change about my setup?