All Clad: Stainless Steel vs Copper Core?
My old, mid-grade pans are starting to go, so I plan to start buying some good stuff. All my old stuff was non-stick, so I want something I can deglaze on, good even heat conduction and long-lasting. All Clad seems to be pretty universally respected. Is there a big difference between their stainless steel and copper core cookware? I know copper is supposed to be best for even heat conduction. Is the difference noticeable?
I presume you mean copper core vs. aluminum core. I recently heard a supposed expert say that the home cook is unlikely to notice any difference.
FWIW, Consumer Reports ranked All-Clad in a middling category among stainless. KitchenAid, Calphalon Contemporaryand Emerilware were tops. Note that stainless steel interior fry pans (but not saucepans) are difficult to clean. I discarded my All-Clad.
Aluminum-core will work with induction. I do not believe the copper-core will - although I might be wrong. Definitely something to think about as you never know.
As for Consumer Reports - in my opinion, and based on my experience - that rag has totally lost its ability to consistenly produce sounds ratings. I wouldn't get too hung up on that.
Aluminum core or copper makes no difference as far as induction compatibility. Induction only acts on the ferrous (iron) material in the pan. In a pan designed with induction in mind, the steel disk on the bottom of the pan (or the outer layer, if it's fully clad) is magnetic, that layer reacts to the electromagnetic field generated by the induction element and generates heat. The core material (aluminum, copper, whatever) distributes that heat evenly to the interior surface of the pan.
All All-Clad is expensive, I've noticed that they use basic All-Clad MC2 aluminum in the Iron Chef America kitchen so the performance of all of their cookware is probably similar.
If you are willing to wash the pans by hand, which I do with most of my cookware anyway, I've always preferred the All-Clad LTD anodized for looks - My 3 qt.cooper core saute (a gift) is kind of ugly and dull after 5 years use, and the copper lid tarnishes badly.
The copper isn't just a ring, it's the exposed core and while it's OK to put them in the dishwasher, the exposed copper will darken to a dull gray if you do.
I think that any All-Clad you buy will be great.