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replacing my saucepans/skillets

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I have finally decided that I am done with my nonstick pots and pans, and would like to replace them with something high-quality that I will have forever. My initial thought was to replace them with Le Creuset or something similair, since I imagine the enameled interior would be more forgiving in terms of sticking than other materials (I'm not sure if I really have the patience to deal with unglazed cast iron). But I read several people in another thread say they hated their LC skillets. Is there a reason for this? Now I'm not really sure what I should get!

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  1. I find that the le creusets I use most are the saucepans and braising pots. I have a couple of frying pans too, but generally I use copper or an all clad saute pan on the stovetop. I'd recommend getting a good size le creuset braiser or stew pot for going from stovetop into the oven and a sitram or paderno saute pan. you shouldn't be put off by seasoning a regular cast iron, by the way. It's not that hard, cast iron is relatively cheap, and once you've properly seasoned it, nothing will stick to it.

    2 Replies
    1. re: chuckl

      I second this plan of using porcelain-clad cast iron for braising and all-clad type pots and pans for sauting, boiling, and roasting. Once upon a time, I only used cast iron (glazed & unglazed), but the weight became too much for my wrists for daily breakfasts and stir frys.

      Warning: I learned the hard way that the porcelain can crack, lift and peel off (left a pot roast in the oven for 10 hours on one Super Bowl Sunday; it went dry, and I had to junk an oval 10-qt. porcelain-clad pot that way). Also, my husband gouged the porcelain off the bottom of a 5-qt. dutch oven while using a stainless steel cooking spoon.

      1. re: Stephanie Wong

        I threaten my husband if he does not use wooden utensils on the ac or the lc. I have ac utensils and about the only thing they are good for is my old magnalite. Or whatever they are called. Wooden utensils should be used on nonstick, ss and cast iron probably also. At least I think so. He loves to grab a regular table serving ss spoon and start scrapping in the pots. I tell him no, pleassssse. The only thing that you just can't get around are the oxo tongs or what ever they are. Grabbers will have to do tonight. I have kept some magnalite. Like the all clad stainless. Have one piece of lc and 1 piece of staub. Figure out what you cook the most and go from there. Changing pans is a costly deal. What I have changed to will be forever. Bed Bath and Beyond is great if they still take the 20 percent off coupons for all clad. Also, there is a seconds place for all clad if you just want a couple of pieces. Cooks & More I think. If you are interested, I will search for the name for you.

    2. Le Creuset makes great Dutch Ovens. The skillets, IMO, are useless. They are heavy and the heat is hard to control. The enamel isn't non-stick.

      I have some All-Clad and Paderno that work great...but my best bang for the buck pans are from (gasp!) Ikea. Martha Stewart Everyday also has some good pans.

      1. I'm eliminating nonstick for health concerns and because they're getting old.

        I got a couple le creuset casseroles and dutch ovens. I got 2 calphalon tri-ply (stainless steel) sauce pans and then cast iron frying pans. The cast iron has a learning curve but I'm hoping I'll really love them once I get them seasoned properly and learn how bbest to cook with them.

        1. Marian Burros, dealing with the same question, did some testing and wrote the following article:

          http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/07/din...

          Myself, I use a non-stick pan for yolk-intact eggs. For most other fried stuff, I use carbon steel pans and have no problem with food sticking. They're made in France but are not terribly expensive.

          1. I switched to a Lodge cast iron skillet a few years ago from a stainless steel with a non-Teflon nonstick coating, and have never looked back. Once the cast iron is used and seasoned, it is virtually non-stick. If something does stick, scrub away without fear. I even use soap (blasphemy, but I hate the taste of residual food in my eggs). I also have two LeCreuset matte black interior fry pans, and they work very well too. They seem even to clean up better than the cast iron. My main complaint is the weight of the LC and the cast iron. There is little you can do to juggle food around in them without risking a back injury, so get used to using your spatula instead. I now rarely use anything else for frying with the exception of my saute pans, and when making a frittata or omelette, a Circulon non-stick that is light enough to lift and turn out.

            1. High quality, last forever? That would seem to be THE catch phrase for top notch multi-ply cookware, sort of the reason-for-being of All Clad and the Viking branded stuff, as well a Paderno, Kuyper, Sitram and others. The multiply stuff generally has layers of Al and/or Cu for even heating and responsiveness to temperature adjustments wrapped in SS for long term good looks, non-reactiveness and ease of cleaning. Of course with heavy duty handles and dense copper these things are not exactly featherweight either.

              How many people really "hand down" cookware to their grandkids anyway?

              2 Replies
              1. re: renov8r

                I have some of my grandmother's pots. One is a magnalite saucepan that I use all of the time. The others are thin cheap enamel pans that I don't really use, just keep for sentimental value. She supposedly brought them over from Europe when she immigrated here, although I find that hard to believe. Why would she bring pots?

                1. re: renov8r

                  renov8r, copper gets handed down all the time. Unfortunately it's reactive which is one reason I love my Sitram cookware so much. I have my grandmother's rolling pin. She was an amazing cook. Lemon meringue pie . . .:)

                2. Calphalon Commercial Hard Anodized has won my heart. This stuff is just plain durable, and reasonably nonstick. If it does stick, just scrub it with whatever is at hand ... I truly don't believe you can hurt this stuff. Cheap @ Amazon, too.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: bigcat39

                    I was originally doubtful, but the Calphalon Commercial Hard anodized 2.5qt shallow sauce pan has become my favorite pan. It's one HEAVY (thicker aluminum than I've seen elsewhere) and durable pan. And only $19.99 from amazon during one of their friday-one-day sales.

                  2. My personal preference for sauteing is French steel. You can get these pans in various sizes at restaurant supply stores for a fraction of what you'd pay at a retail cookware store. For saucepans, I prefer stainless steel... I'm not a "set" person, tho... I have a little of a lot of different kinds of cookware, depending upon what I'm using it for.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: ChefJune

                      ChefJune, Ditto being a non-"set" person. Sitram (French SS) rocks!

                    2. I just bought a 9 piece set of sur la table stainless to replace my non-stick set. I have seen a couple good posts about this cookware on the boards, went to the store and decided to put some money down. The pieces felt very good in my hand and were heavy and seemed well built. I think I will be doing a little cooking this weekend to test them out!

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: NE_Elaine

                        Be sure to report back on how you like them!

                        1. re: ChefJune

                          Thanks, everyone!

                          Based on this and what I've read other places, I think I'm still leaning towards LC for my skillet. I might do plain stainless steel (or more LC, depending on whether I can get a good deal) for my saucepans. I think plain cast iron sounds great, but with a toddler underfoot (and another one imminent), I don't trust myself to be able to always wash the pots and pans as soon as they come off the stove.

                          I need to look at some prices on saucepans- my impression is that the material for these is not quite as important because you don't have the worry of sticking.

                          1. re: aekap

                            Little late in putting my two sense in but I saw where someone hardly uses their cast iron enameled lc skillet. For braising, rue and all else, a ss is better it seems. Just a little input. Not everyone likes the same deals though. This has to be up to you..

                            1. re: aekap

                              Yeah I think SS is great for saucepans. I have two calphalon tri-ply (along the lines of allclad but cheaper). I got them at tjmaxx for half the price and I really love the weight, the cleanup (for sauces and rice) and the lid.

                              http://www.amazon.com/Calphalon-Tri-P... (paid 39.99 from tjmaxx

                              )

                              http://www.amazon.com/Calphalon-Tri-P... (paid 34.99 from tjmaxx)

                        2. I have Le Creuset (need to use wood or plastic utensils) dutch oven and sauce pan and Sitram (French/a copper layer sandwiched between stainless steel) fry pan and sauce pan. Both Le Creuset and Sitram can go under the broiler and in the dishwasher. I have a large paella pan from www.latienda.com that can go everwhere (including the grill and broiler) except the dishwasher. I have a small Lodge cast iron pan for roasting feta that is great (also can go under the broiler), but it cannot go in the dishwasher or have soap touch it. Also have 2 commercial NSF rated non-stick pans, a small and large one. I have one All Clad roasting pan. I think All Clad is overpriced. I love all these pans and use them alot. I never saw the point of buying sets. Also, Le Creuset is heavy, Sitram is less so but still has a good weight to it. If your pans are light they are not quality, IMO.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: financialdistrictresident

                            I think you and I are pretty much on the same page on this. LC, Sitram and some Lodge. I also have a large paella pan that I picked up at La Tienda's store, as well as some cazuelas from there that I use a lot - including an oval one that I often use to roast chickens. To quote Fred Bridge in response to my query about All Clad: "Madam, we do not carry junk." Have to say - right or wrong - that has stayed with me lo these 15 years!