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Sep 12, 2009 02:36 PM

Cooper Cookware-- the essential first piece

I'm new to the site and brand new to copper cookware. I just read a very interesting and helpful thread about tin vs ss lining and learned a lot. Thank you to all who posted.
I have a related follow up question. I'm a fairly accomplished cook, expanding constantly on what I learned at the elbow. I rarely use a recipe, but do appreciate learning from others (including cookbooks) and experiment with abandon and delight. Usually it turns out fine. I have some very decent cookware-- about 7 pieces of All Clad LTD, 5 or so pieces of even older SS Cusinart, and a number of aluminum saute pans picked up at the local restaurant supply place. The only copper piece i have is a small tin lined, Turkish Ibrik, used for making coffee. However, like many other Americans, inspired by Julie & Julia, I want to have more skill and I want a copper piece or two. At least to start.

I would like to get a small casserole for making, among other similar dishes, beef stew with wine ala Julia, and I would like it to have two handles so ( if I'm going to invest in this, rather than use my four quart LDT casserole), I want to put it on the table. So would you recommend a three quart or a four quart casserole for this purpose ( I would use at most two pounds of meat)-- and what might be a good source for finding one with two handles. Would a casserole do better tin lined or ss lined-- or wouldn't it matter for this purpose?

Then as someone who already has a well potted and panned kitchen, but not yet coppered, what would a good choice for me be for a second piece? Size, type, lining?

Thank you so much

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  1. Have you read this:

    I don't think using copper for braising is necessary. Or should I say, it's overkill. Whether it's in the oven or on the stove top, a long, slow braise for stew will work turn out just the same in a copper pot or a cast iron pot, etc.

    For serving, you can buy thin-walled copper pieces that are a lot cheaper. Note that they are not meant for cooking -- ONLY serving.

    If all of that changes your plans, and you still want to buy a piece of copper cookware to get your collection started, you probably could not do any better than this:

    And it should always be stressed, of course, that copper cookware does not make the chef...

    1. I basically agree with what Joe Blowe posted, but also recognize the difference between strictly needing something and wanting something. The Falk saucier is a very versatile shape that makes good sense for a first piece of copper cookware. I would recommend that you also consider the similar, but somewhat more traditional, shape known as an evasee (aka slope-sided sauce pan, Windsor pan, fait tout). I have about 3 dozen pieces of copper cookware, mostly Mauviel, and it's the evasees that get reached for most often. In a sufficiently large size, they can be used for just about anything from sauteing to stewing. I've never seen one with two handles, but the long iron handles the quality ones come with (avoid the brass/bronze handles which usually indicate thinner gauge copper) will allow you to use two hands. Look for 2.5 mm or more thickness - the thinner (usually 1.2 or 1.6-mm) pieces will cook quite well but are really more for serving. I'm a bit of a traditionalist, so my copper has tin lining, but the stainless lining really makes more sense.

      For a second piece, get a nice large sautoir, which is one shape, and use, where the cooking qualities of copper really can be appreciated.

      1 Reply
      1. re: FlyFish

        Thank you to Joe Blowe and to FlyFish for your thoughtful and thought provoking responses and suggestions. What is especially helpful was FlyFish's comment about what he reaches for most in his kitchen. I think I will pay attention to what I use most-- and since this is about want of copper cookware and not need of something to cook in, as you both helped me to see, I should duplicate my favorite shapes and sizes. I will also give serious consideration to a copper serving piece. I agree with something like stew, it will cook equally well in any decent pot, and in that case, it's the presentation I'm after. Also well said that the cookware does not make the chef-- seems to me that even in the best of restaurants, there is a lot of wonderful food turned out in simple aluminum pans! I did order the falk starter pan-- everyone on this site seems to recommend it. I like the idea of starting with some copper pieces where copper will make the difference-- for instance in how fast I can turn out a chicken marsala or lemon sole in lemon, butter, and capper sauce. Especially since I'm a full time professional and if weeknight cooking speed can be increased-- that will make life seem slower paced! Leaving more time to savor the food that is prepared and the company around the table.

      2. Hi: I'm a copperware addict. If you already bought the Falk starter pan, I'd heartily recommend that you next invest in an oval roaster, sized for a large chicken or a medium-sized roast. I use mine a ton, both in the oven and on the hobs. Very versatile, and the two handles are nice. At $35 on Craigslist, I smile every time I see one at W-S gathering dust at $375.

        Oh, if you can refrain from metal utensils, definitely get the tinned.