Buying new cookware...
I am buying my first set of cookware after starting to cook a few months ago. I am replacing some cheap hand-me-downs and wondering if I should go with a full set or pick and choose specific pieces. I want to buy some high quality pieces, but also hear buying sets are not always the way to go as sets often have things you don't need.
I already have a Le Creuset 5 qt oval dutch oven and a 4.5 qt round dutch oven. Could these double as saucepans or is the enamel + cast iron nor good for that? I also have two good 8 qt stockpots.
Any recommendations for what other pieces I should get? I know I will need a 12'' fry pan, sautee pan, and a smaller sauce pan (and possibly a larger one if the Le Creuset's cannot double). Any other pieces I will need?
Are there any other brands other than All-Clad that I should check out? Also, is buying copper worth the extra cost?
Thanks for the help!
I'd go for three basics: a 12 inch skillet, a big stock pot and a 3 or 4 quart sauce pan.
Don't buy a set, even though it seems like a good value. You need different pans of different materials. Sometimes you'll need the heat retention of cast iron but other times you'll want something thinner and lighter weight. That 5 quart Le Creuset oval cassoulet you have is a great piece, along with the round one; you'll use both a lot. Yes, they can double as saucepans, but if you use them for that purpose regularly you'll chip the enamel, plus you'll develop carpal tunnel syndrome from wrangling with them. Find a tri-ply stainless pan you like to use and get that in a couple of sizes.
Your cookware doesn't have to match, it simply has to do what you need it to do.
I agree with Jill P. You don't have to spend much on sauce pans, but when you need them you need them. Sitram is good, they have an aluminum disk on the bottom to help conduct heat. I found a used 3 quart sitram sauce pan online with a steamer that I use quite a bit. But just plain ole stainless will do the job for a sauce pan. I would also add a piece or 2 of unclad cast iron, which you can season. They're cheap and quite versatile. and like Jill says, you'll need a big stockpot, say 16 quart, if you plan to make stock
We have always liked All-Clad and have gotten a bunch at www.cookwareandmore.com over the years. They have factory seconds and in February they have a sale on top of that, so it's worth waiting a few more weeks if you want all clad. However, we just got our first Scanpan teflon fry pan, and we LOVE it. If you want a teflon fry pan, I highly recommend the Scanpan. I haven't found anything other than regular "sales" for these, however...
Your kitchen have fun with it. Every piece I bought, have either been a try me piece or a piece bought from a going out of business sale. I recently bought a 30 year old Le Creuset saucepan from ebay, it was in wonderful shape. I purchased the cast iron enamel skillet from calphalon for $25, the 5 qt cast iron enamel calphalon dutch oven for $31, the 8 piece Henckels twin cuisine cutlery set for $170, and the calphalon 3 qt tri ply stainless for $23. I found the calphalon cast iron baker for $20 and like a dumb a** let my father buy it. My suggestion would be to write down everything you would like brand name and retail price and start searching for the best deals. Do not be afraid to compromise if you find a better deal. I wanted to get a Le Creuset dutch oven but could not pass up the calphalon when I saw it at $31. These are just a few of my great finds, the only piece in my kitchen where retail was paid was the Le Creuset fondue set my mom gave me for Xmas. A few pieces remain on my list and I will search them out.
Do not worry about the "right" set. I know many people who have the most beautiful cookware only to see it hang spotless in a hanging rack while they are at the trendiest restaurant. If cookware made porn, my cookware would resemble a "worlds largest gang bang video." It is stained and dented. My kitchen and cooking provided a sense of normalcy to my son when his mother left. My son's friends love having dinner at the house and my fiance and I love to spend Sunday mornings making country ham and pancakes and watching reality shows on VH1. Good luck and have fun. Building a cookware/cutlery set is an ongoing process, it never gets old and never gets boring!
Everybody’s needs are different. Depends on the dishes you
Like to fix, storage space, number of people, etc.
Dutch ovens have short handles to fit in an oven. This may not bother you, but a long handle can be more convenient on the stovetop. For one thing, you don’t have to place your arm above another hot burner to pick it up. But they won’t be harmed used on a burner.
I very often use a butter warmer, and find two saucepans in the 1-1/2 quart range.indispensable.
There is much good cookware out there besides the overpriced All-Clad.
As far as brands, All-Clad is mostly good stuff but is overpriced for what it is, for the stainless pieces I'd go with Sitram. When you ask about copper, are you asking about stainless cookware with a copper disc (sometimes also called copper core) or about full-on, tinned copper cookware? Cuz the latter is ridiculously expensive.
You have the right idea RE: cookware sets. Just buy the pieces you actually use. If, a month down the road, you find yourself wishing you had a slightly bigger saucepan, go ahead and buy it.
One piece I would recommend picking up that's not on your list is a small saucepan with pouring spouts, a.k.a. a 'butter warmer'. Sitram makes one that's cheap (about $20 IIRC), I bought mine just to get free shipping on my order and I use it all the time.
I would not use enameled cast iron like Le Creuset in place of a saucepan, it doesn't respond fast enough to temperature changes.
Thanks for the response. I was talking about full on Copper with stainless lining instead of tin, like the All-Clad Cop- R -Chef, Bourgeat, or Ruffoni. I know it is expensive, but for something I will be using a lot and will have for a long time, I wouldn't mind shelling out the cash if there is a real difference - or at least buy the specific pans that it does make a difference in. I do see myself making quite a bit of sauces and sauteeing in the future and wonder if it would be worth it to buy some saucepans and a sautee pan in copper.
Do you know if there is a real noticeable difference with copper/stainless vs all stainless?