Suggestions for Cookware purchase
I need a whole new set of cookware and frankly I am confused and overwhelmed.
I am looking for a good solid set around $600> that will cook evenly on my gas stove.
There are soo many choices, can someone kindly give me a few tips?
I'm a very strong supporter of All Clad LTD. While it's more expensive than the stainless steel line (and also not dishwasher friendly), it has a significantly thicker core of aluminum which means stronger performance. Plus, it's the best looking of the All Clad lineup.
I'm, however, not sure that I would spend all $600 on an All Clad set. I'd buy a few key pieces of All Clad LTD (3 or 6 quart saute pan, 12" fry pan, 3 quart saucepan) then buy a good 5-7 quart enamaled cast iron French Oven from either Staub or Le Creuset and a 12" Lodge cast iron skillet. That combination would give you a pretty good foundation of cookware, all of which would last you a lifetime.
Sam Harmon gives some very good advice. I'd add an inexpensive nonstick frying pan, I use a Bialetti I bought fron Target, for cooking eggs, a 4 qt. stainless sauce pan with lid for the times when 3 just isn't quite big enough, and large stock pot with an insert for pasta. You can add these for less than $200. Skip the 4 qt. sauce pan and it's less than $150.
No stick pans have been shown to be a potential health risk. I won't have one in my kitchen, but that's me. When I need non stick I use a well seasoned cast iron skillet that does the same job.
I also agree with Sam. Don't buy a set, buy what you need. Look at the way you cook, then buy accordingly. Do you make your own stocks? Do you often cook pasta in large quantities? Then you'll need the stock pot/pasta insert combo Cpt Wafer recommends. Do you frequently cook things fast and hot? A good saute pan is what you need. The list goes on from there.
I am extremely happy with the Kitchen-Aid Gourmet Essentials 10-piece set which I got on sale for $200. 18/10 SS with aluminum core base and silicone handles. I was able to get it with a 2-quart steamer insert instead of the 8-inch skillet as shown at kitchenaid.com. I will probably never use the 10-inch skillet from the set, but it looks nice on the pot rack. I added a Kitchen-Aid 12-inch anodized aluminum skillet.
I researched before I bought and I purposely chose metal lids with silicone handles over glass lids with metal handles, although if you want to put them in the oven you have to watch the temperature. I have cast iron for the oven. These are not dishwasher safe, but clean up nicely.
You don't need every size and shape, and what you do need depends on the kind of cooking you do.
I think is the best source around is Bridge Kitchenware. They have an enormous variety and great expertise. Even better, they're totally objective, since they don't have sponsors that require them to push certain items.
Here's their list of essentials: http://www.bridgekitchenware.com/what...
It's worth a trip to New York to have them guide you through picking out just what you need. As an alternative, go through the essentials list and then call them to go through what you've picked out.
With a $600 budget, you'll do best with aluminum-core stainless steel from Paderno or Sitram, which are as good as or better than All-Clad and considerably less expensive. I use them every day.
Follow the links at http://www.chowhound.com/topics/345997
As long as you are not in the habit of turning up the gas so that the flames routinely come up the side of the pot, I have found Sitram and Paderno Grand Gourmet (all from Bridge) the absolute best of the stainless steel pots. I now cook on ceramic, but these pots were great on gas. The whole pitch with clad is that you get even heating up the sides, but I have found that the very thick disk bottoms on the Paderno are unmatched in terms of no hot spots, (with the exception of the best copper, like Falk) as long as you know how to cook, meaning -- you don't jack up the burners to the highest setting and leave them there. The disk leaves nothing to burn, and it is a pleasure to find no familiar burn ring of sauce or rice that you find on the bottom of All Clad SS ,or the even better made and higher-end Demeyere clad. (Note, not all Demeyere is clad, most have disk bottoms, but it is really expensive. All Clad and Demeyere are going to blow your budget quickly). I would seriously look at the professional Paderno line sold at Bridge. For some reason, probably the price of copper, the Paderno with the 1/4" thick aluminum disks cost much less than the Sitram. Call Bridge and ask -- and remember to order lids separately. Professional cookware doesn't usually have them. I love my Paderno rondeux so much I ordered more of them in different sizes.