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Jan 9, 2007 02:07 AM

did I buy good cookware?

I just bought a bunch of new things...on a splurge to replace some old cookware but I am having a little bit of buyers remorse over a couple things I am not sure I really need. Could anyone comment on the items I purchased, what other things you think are important to get (re: pots and pans..not bakeware, utensils, gadgets). Also, if anything I bought is redundant or unnecessary. I will return or exchange for more useful items if it will save me space and money.

I bought the following: (all found at TJ Maxx)

Cuisinart Chef's Classic stainless (not nonstick) 2, 3 and 8qt stockpot. (Also, for these types of pans, isn't the disk bottom good enough...what types of pans should I try to get fully clad and why?

Cuisinart Chef's Classic stainless 5.5qt Covered casserole with two short handles. Is disk bottom good enough for this type of pan?

Authentic Kitchen (not familiar with this name...anybody have this brand? )13" deep pan with curved sides and heavy aluminum disc bottom, glass domed cover and two short handles...looks like another type of casserole but not as deep as the 5.5qt and that one has straight sides. Can someone tell me what this pan is specifically for...and what other uses it may have in my kitchen? It looks nice and is a heavy weighted pan and can go in oven up to 400. Is there an advantage to having curved sided pan like this in addition to the straight sided 5.5qt cuisinart one? I like that it is large and I was wondering if it would make a good frying pan too because I don't have a large stainless fry pan, just the large nonstick and some small nonsticks and a cast iron fry pan. (is this what is meant by an "everyday pan"?)

Paderno Cagtering line 13" nonstick fry pan

Well Equipped Kitchen enameled cast iron dutch ovens. One is 5qt round and the other is 7.5qt oval. Should I keep both of these? What about the brand name? I liked that they matched and I would have both a large and a small but now I am thinking that maybe this is overkill. I have never used cast iron dutch ovens before but would like to start. And I do have a medium and LARGE I really need a large dutch oven?

Sorry for the long post...any ideas?

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  1. I believe TJ max has some good kitchen items, lots of discontinued stuff that never makes it to the mainstream stores. IF you can, I would invest in one All Clad pot or pan. Food cooks so beautifully in it, they clean up great & will last a long time.

    2 Replies
    1. re: chefkk

      IF I could afford one All Clad pot or pan, which would you suggest to add to what I already have? I wouldn't mind trying one out to see what all the hype is about!

      1. re: tamhud4

        In my two-person household, the All-clad mc2 2-quart saucepan w/lid gets used 3X more than any other pot in the house. It cooks rice beautifully, is the perfect size for small amounts of stuff (sauces, soups, boiling eggs, grits, oatmeal), and it is a breeze to clean (though it isn't nonstick). I will probably get a 3.5 or 4 quart mc2 pot soon.

    2. I'd return the Cuisinart Chef's Classic stainless 5.5qt covered casserole. Your cast iron Dutch oven does the same job, but much better. I'd keep both Dutch ovens, it's impossible to have too many of these. Not sure if I would have bought the 2 and 3 qt pots - at that small size they hardly qualify as stock pots, I would probably have bought a 3 qt sauce pot, fully clad. 8qt stock pot is fine and a disc bottom should do very well.
      The 13" pan sounds like a small braiser rather than a frying pan, but if you don't need a longer handle, for flipping etc, then there's no reason why you shouldn't be able to use it as your everyday pan.
      Non stick, I don't own any and never will.

      All of the above is only true for my own way of cooking. Your mileage will vary. Enjoy your new cookware.

      1 Reply
      1. re: andreas

        Thanks! Maybe I will keep all of it after all. Most of it was very reasonably priced. The 7.5 dutch oven was the most expensive piece and that was 50.00. So it's not going to save me a huge amount to return it, just thought maybe I wouldn't get a lot of use out of it, and I had heard that a full large dutch oven could be too heavy for the rack in the oven? Any suggestions on the kinds of dishes I might try to make first in it? I am having my aunt and uncle over for dinner on friday and would love to use it!

        I did get the 3qt Cuisinart sauce pot but it only has the disc bottom. I like the smaller 2qt saucepan for making oatmeal or small amounts of food for my 2 toddlers but you are right, it is too small to be useful for much else. I have already used the 5.5qt casserole to make risotto last night and it came out great...are you saying I could have made the risotto in the round dutch oven? I thought that stainless 5.5 tpan would be good for saute pan with the deep straight sides but it doesn't have a long handle...does that really matter? I haven't used the 13" braiser pan yet and was thinking of returning that but it is nice large pan I thought would be good for browning, braising, and frying and could go in seems you agree on that one?...and what exactly is an everyday pan anyway? Should a fry pan be fully clad? I would like a 4 and 6qt and you think these should be fully clad? I already have 2 large stock pots...12 qt w/o disc bottom and 16qt with disc... that I am keeping for when I am entertaining and making large amounts of pasta or lobsters, etc. I also made a roast last night in a old roasting pan last night and thought, I should have purchased a new roasting pan...any suggestions for that. I made an eye round roast so I didn't think I could really use any of my new pans for that, right?

      2. There are a couple of factors I always use to determine if the cookware is worth having: #1, can it go in the dishwasher (aside from a non-stick or cast iron) and #2, can it go in the oven? If the answer is no to either of these, then it's worthless IMO. Assuming those 2 qualities are met, from there it's personal. You have to decide whether or not you like the quality, look, performance, etc.

        4 Replies
        1. re: HaagenDazs

          Well...then I guess I did o.k...everything except the nonstick goes in the fact that one says it can even go in the dishwasher but I probably won't put it in there. I don't think the dutch ovens go in the dishwasher even tho they are enameled, right? And they all go in the oven, even the nonstick pan I got can go in the oven. And I do like the way it all looks. I think the only piece I was really questioning was the large ECI dutch oven and the two handled pan with the glass domed cover since I don't know anything about the brand...but it is a nice looking large pan that seems to have multiple uses. I think I will just trust my original judgement and keep it all. I will try to get a fully clad pan or too soon also. I am not sure which pans most benefit from being fully clad...any opinion on that?

          1. re: tamhud4

            I have Calphalon Tri-ply, the older stuff with the metal lids. It's nice but I'm thinking of going with some Sitram when the time comes. You're correct about the dishwasher and the dutch ovens, you probably don't want to put them in there. You'll be fine with glass lids, but I tend to stay away from them. Mostly it's a personal, visual thing for me. They tend to get gunky around the screw hole and they can of course chip or break if you drop them. It doesn't happen often, but it does happen. If you're looking for a clad pan, consider Sitram, just do a Google search. They are sandwiched bottoms, not clad, but they have some nice features. Namely they are well priced IMO.

            1. re: tamhud4

              Use jet dry or some other rinse aid when washing the cuisinart stuff in the dishwasher. I washed up once without it and got a sorry, streaky mess.

              1. re: MaspethMaven

                I have used the pan only twice now and have not put it in the dish washer...I thought I would wash it by hand since it semed easy enough to clean and would have taken up a lot of room. But....I have a blotchy in some spots, rainbowish in some spots type of thing going on inside the pan which I can't seem to clean off. I used regular soap and water, then Bon Ami, rinsed well, repeated numerous times and still have this blotchy problem...looks like something is on the inside of the pan....left over starch from the risotto I made maybe...but it feels completely smooth and the splotches won't come off.

          2. I LOVE my glass lids and wouldn't trade them for anything. Had them for 10 years and there is no gunk anywhere. They are tempered glass and have zero chips or scrathes. I'm not exactly gentle with them , so I don't know what it would take to break one of these.....

            1 Reply
            1. re: jcanncuk

              It depends on how the lid handles are attached. If they are screw on, I can guarantee with 110% certainty that there is gunk in there. Unscrew it and you'll see what I mean. I have Le Creuset lids that are screw on and they get stuff up in there. It's not a big deal or by any means detrimental, but with glass I've always been able to notice it more because they are clear. It's certainly personal preference, but I think metal lids look better. Can't remember the last time I saw a quality cookware with a glass lid for instance IMO.

            2. "isn't the disk bottom good enough..."

              Yeah, it's fine, assuming the disc is fairly thick and covers the entire bottom of the pan. Cuisinart should meet those criteria.

              If your cooktop is electric, it won't make any difference at all; all the heat is under the disc anyway. If you use gas, then on high heat the flame can come up the side and heat the side of the pan unevenly.
              But if you're using high heat under a saucepan for anything but boiling water, you're doing something very strange. In short, disc bottoms are perfectly fine.

              7 Replies
              1. re: PDXpat

                And I would counter that I regret the day I bought a set of stainless pans with disk bottoms. We did some research, it was a relatively inexpensive set, but recommended by consumer reports, and it was time to replace our nonstick stuff, but I dislike the non-clad sides, which tend to get too hot and burn, making them difficult to clean, or they'll cause the contents to boil suddenly when you pour them out (ie - scalded cream).

                My 2 cents.

                1. re: cyberroo

                  What brand did you buy? I've recently started looking at Sitram, but they are obviously sandwiched bottoms. My MIL is remodeling her kitchen and I've mentioned Sitram a couple of times because of the price compared to All-Clad. They are getting a (welcome to post-Civil war times) a dishwasher and the current cookware isn't dishwasher safe.

                2. re: PDXpat

                  Thanks PDXpat, I am using gas but your are right, I don't need to use high heat other than to boil water and I try to use the right size pan for the right size burner. I am glad to hear that discs are fine and that Cuisinart Chefs Classid disc bottomed pans are good quality because they seem to be easy to find at good prices at stores like TJMaxx, Marshalls, HomeGoods, etc. I think I may bring back my large glass covered two handled casserole dish...and look for a large stainless skillet...maybe fully clad for this piece though? ???? Maybe a Cuisinart MultiClad skillet so they will match well? I do like the looks of their set.

                  1. re: PDXpat

                    Sorry, but there's a huge difference between clad and disk. A disk bottom pot will only properly transfer heat from the bottom, with the sides doing none of the work. As a result the heat in the pot will always be uneven. A clad pot will heat the food from all sides evenly. A clad pot also won't lead to burned sides. Even heat distribution is also one of the main reasons why cast iron and copper pots are so fantastic at braising.

                    Whether you're on gas or on an electric cooktop makes no difference whatsoever. It's not the flames touching the sides of the pot that transfer heat in a clad pot, it is the aluminum core. The point of a clad pot is that the entire vessel heats up evenly, regardless of the source of the heat. You can put a clad pot on a French top and it will still outperform a disk bottomed pot.

                    Having said all of this, a decent disk bottom is fine for many kitchen tasks. It's just that a clad pot will always be the better choice, assuming that price is no object.

                    1. re: andreas

                      o.k. ...this is good to you had to pick one exensive pan in your kitchen that you would prefer to be fully clad, which pan would it be? I already have the cast iron fry pan, enameled cast iron dutch ovens, but my other pans are disc bottomed...I still need a large stainless fry pan/skillet...would that be where you would spend money for fully clad...or would it be a large sauce pot that would benefit...or should I have waited and purchased a fully clad pan for the 5.5 saute/casserole pan I have

                      1. re: andreas

                        Sure, that's what the sales brochures claim. Is it really a concern to a real-world cook?

                        Heat travels from the source in a hemispherical pattern. Heat applied at any point will travel laterally through the material (up the sides, for example) a distance equal to the thickness of the material; that would be roughly 1/4 of an inch in the case of All-Clad.

                        This, of course, assumes there's some sort of food in the pan to absorb the heat on the inner surface. Empty pans behave pretty much as you describe, but nobody cooks with empty pans.

                        eGullet has a very good article on the science of cookware design and materials here:

                        Cherry-picking from the cited article, it has this to say about aluminum-disc bottom cookware:
                        "Cooks are sometimes apprehensive that foods will scorch and burn on the parts of the pan that are not covered with aluminum -- namely the sides and the portions of the base not covered by the aluminum disk -- because these are essentially plain stainless steel. This is only possibly a concern in conditions where the flame heating the pan is larger than the pan itself, and significant heat from the heat source is in direct contact with those portions of the pan. Such conditions are rare in the home kitchen..."