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Nov 10, 2010 02:54 PM

Favorite copper pan?

OK, I've finally sorted out the best uses for LC, cast iron and AC.

Now, to get serious: What is your favorite copper pan? skillet? saucier? Which one would you not want to get along without? And why? I have never cooked with copper.


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  1. Medium saucepan because delicates is where copper truly excels. For true frying I prefer the higher heat range of steel.

    1. 3 qt saucier. I have several copper pans: sauce pans, saute pans, stock pot, skillets, etc but the sauciers are the ones where copper really excels. The 3 qt is the size I use the most of my sauicers(I have a 1, 2 and 3 qt) I also love my copper skillets when I'm working with fish...for whatever reason I get a much better sear in them than any other skillets including tri-ply.

      3 Replies
      1. re: ziggylu

        I want to purchase a copper saute pan to add to the set I have. Christoher Kimball of America's Test Kitchen and Cook's Illustrated advises saute pans from 10" to 11" in diameter to prevent crowding while sauteing. However, I have seen a lot of pans in the 9.5" range and wonder if that size would work as well. Afer all, it's just a half-inch difference from the 10" pan, but would it really matter?

        1. re: GibsonGirl55

          (I will assume you are referring to fry pans as opposed to sauce pans. Some websites refer to fry pans as saute pans, like, which sells Bourgeat and Mauviel for good prices) Figure out what number of people you cook for most frequently, what you cook most frequently, how much of that you would like to saute at one time, then you have it. We entertain no more than 8 people at a time, usually six, and use our 14" saute pans (not copper) frequently, as we prepare a lot of chicken. The larger the pan the better for mushrooms and onions. 9 1/2" is just a smidge smaller than our omelette pan... If you are looking for a pan based on price, opt for the larger pan in stainless steel with a copper or aluminum base insert. Our favorite pans are the old Cuisinart pans (early 90's) which were quite a deal when we found them at the Cuisinart outlet in NYC on a trip, but I don't think they are made as well now. I saw an All America's Test Kitchen episode where they rated celebrity pans; the favorite was Jamie Oliver's fry pan (it is interesting to me that the review on is only two celebs, Emeril's and W. Puck's, both of which are non-stick. No mention of the ATK program entries). All-Clad is likely the best-performing pan you will find that is not copper. A Bourgeat 11" frypan will set you back about $280 at or $378 at a lid. As you are cooking with the bottom and not the sides/cosmetics of the pan, again I would consider looking for a pan with a thick aluminum or copper core and stainless interior as large as you can carry (think about the weight, as you will want a second handle on the larger fry pans. Also, I would not purchase a pan with a brass handle (we have a Mauviel evasee with one), as it gets WAY too hot when cooking. Give me a Falk or Bourgeat iron handle any time... despite the weight it adds...

          Now, if you were actually talking about an evasee as a saute pan, that is another matter... (but I think that saute, coming from the French word "to jump" really refers to a fry pan, despite how some websites refer to them....

          You might want to consider a Paderno Fusion fry pan. I have one of their evasees that I like a lot (stainless), almost as much as our 4 Bourgeat evasees and saucepans.

          If you want to have a shopping spree, start here...

          1. re: kdkrone

            Thanks so much for your input. I plan on getting an All-Clad 11 saute pan to round out my stainless steel cookware set (Revere Pro-line), but I also want to do the same with my copper collection by getting a nice saute pan with the straight sides. I do have a 9" copper fry pan, but it's good for frying an egg and not much else.

      2. With respect, you will probably find that you will not want to limit yourself to one pan. IMHO, with the exception of high-searing and -roasting, nothing performs better than copper. Still, there is a cost/benefit tradeoff at work--some pans of other materials perform nearly as well as copper.

        If I had to pick one "desert island" pan, I would go with a splayed saucepan, a/k/a a "Fait Tout" or "Windsor". They are easy to get utensils into, and their smaller bottoms make them quite versatile for varying volumes of food. If you can finance TWO pans, I'd get a 2Q straight-walled saucepan and a 9" curved wall-saute/frypan.

        5 Replies
        1. re: kaleokahu

          Agree totally with kaleokahu on the desert island pot. I've got an obscene amount of cookware acquired over decades but if I had to do it again? I'd buy a set of graduated-size fait-tout/windsor pots.
          I own several ranging from a 1 quart Calphalon with a lip for small amounts of sauces to a 6 qt that steams large quantities of vegetables or boils pasta. As their name says, they "do everything."

          My daughter was recently looking to add a large pot and was vacillating among various expensive brands until I dragged her to the restaurant supply store and made her buy a commercial windsor. It is now her go-to for everything from popcorn to soup, steaming veggies, and rice.
          These pots are the real workhorses of a kitchen.

          Just for pleasure, I'd love to have the 4 or 6 quart copper Mauviel Windsor. The pot you use the most should give you joy. I'd never mind polishing such a perfect tool.

          1. re: MakingSense

            MS: If you need a ready excuse to get a fait tout in copper, consider this: in SS and clad pans, you are heating your contents pretty much from the smallish bottom (except when cooking with gas). This limits you to the convection currents emanating from a relatively small bottom. In a copper pan in contrast, the highly-conductive sidewalls will actually deliver significant amounts of heat to your food, effectively "broadening" your hob. I think you will find the difference one of kind rather than degree. In short, if you like a SS or clad fait tout, you will LOVE the same pan in copper. You will also be amazed at how much lower your hob settings will be relative to SS (25x better conductivity).

            1. re: kaleokahu

              Amen, Kaleokahu! Once when my two favorite saucepans were wherever pans go when you ship them to Atlantic for Retinning (gorgeous work but totally NOT worth the delays and other aggravations) I picked up an All Clad evasee to fill the gap. It is a nice pan but way less responsive and even, plus everything not oiled well sticks. Now I use it to make oatmeal and puttanesca, and that's about it. (Oh, and I use the AC lid on my WS "not a name brand" stockpot because it (the stockpot, not the evasee) came with one of those horrid glass lids that fit down in the lip and sputter as things come near a boil.)

          2. re: kaleokahu

            How does a windsor differ-performance wise-from a curved sauce?

            1. re: E_M

              E-M: I dunno (don't own a curved), but my guess is that they are nearly identical, their other dimensions being equal. With that assumption, the FT will have a slightly smaller total volume, is all.

              However, the all-dimensions-being-equal may not be a good assumption--the curved sauces I've seen look shorter and wider-based than the FTs I'm familiar with, some like a deep curved saute. The more skillet-like, the more evaporative surface, thinner depth, less size versatility, I think.

          3. Kaleohau's advice sounds very solid. I just built my collection before evasees were all the rage. I'd probably love having one and agree on the size. Anyone know a place I can get one that is thick, has an iron handle, and is tin lined? I view an evasee or fait tout as something that really can do all the same things as a saucepan with the added benefit of more evaporative surface and an easier layout to work with (no corners). I agree also on the good release qualities of tin, great for fish.

            8 Replies
            1. re: tim irvine

              You guys are amazing... I'll have to research all this.
              What weight?
              What maker?


              1. re: sweetfern

                I like Mauviel cupretam. They have recently changed their lineup and seem to be going to more SS lined stuff. You should look for stuff 2-3 mm thick with iron handles. Tin lining is IMHO way superior because it seasons quickly and sticks less, but it will take really high temps and you will need to use wooden and other non-metallic utensils. Check out If you prefer SS lining a lot of folks rave about Falk. It has a brushed finish that supposedly requires less upkeep. I prefer the old fashioned shiny. Bourgeat also gets high marks. There is a newer company inBrooklyn whose stuff looks really nice...they have stuff from the old Waldow line. I have an old waldow DB and like it.

                1. re: sweetfern

                  sweet: I'm pretty much like Tim, I prefer tin lined, and it's getting scarcer, some would say difficult to find in the USA NEW, in heavy gauge with iron handles.

                  Weight? The heavier and thicker the better... resistance training builds strong bones! 2-3mm is standard for better grade pans.

                  Makers are more esoteric. There are fewer and fewer makers still in production worldwide, but MANY (as in hundreds) old marks around. The best old used pieces are usually better than anything now in production, IMO. If you're into researching makers and their marks, there is a retired copper metallurgist in England, I think his name is Vin Calcutt. He has a website called that will drop your jaw.

                  Besides the Falk and Mauviel cartels, you might consider two small, and still-obscure makers still in production: Mazzetti in Montepulciano, Tuscany, Italy, and (aka Hammersmith) in Brooklyn. Hammersmith is unique in that they own--and are refurbishing--all of the elaborate machine tools once used by the famed Waldow company, and CAN MAKE YOU ANYTHING IN WALDOW'S PRODIGIOUS CATALOGUE. It's nice to buy American, after all. Write the owner, Mac Kohler, and he'll fix you up if interested.

                  Do not be scared away by needing to retin a premium pan. It is well worth the small trouble, even if it costs more than a new, non-copper pan. Premium pans last CENTURIES; a little retinning comes with the territory and is no big deal.

                  Finally, if you are interested in saucepans in the 3mm range, you should check out Rocky Mountain Retinning in Denver. The owner's name is Peter, and he's had 4-pan planished (hammered) set (w/ and w/o lids) at GREAT prices. I have a set of these with lids and can vouch for the quality. They do NOT, however, have a maker's mark, so the collector's value is less than the chef's value. Peter may not have any/many more sets available, as they were going fast.

                  Good Luck!

                  1. re: kaleokahu

                    I checked out the Mazzetti web site, wow, this guy is fantastic. The only down side I could see is he uses brass handles which I understand heat up more than cast iron or ss. The video of him tinning a pot is really something. For a hand made item, the prices aren't all that bad. Montepulciano is unfortunately about half way between Roma and Firenze, so it's a bit of a streach to actually get there. I'd love to see this in person.

                    1. re: mikie

                      mikie: Yes, Mazzetti is nice stuff. I have their frypan in 24cm x 2mm. It was actually my first piece of copperware, bought on premises. The quality is very high, and the tin thick. Yes, the brass handles do get hotter (at least faster) than does cast iron. Given the fact that it's a frypan, I'm not sure how much hotter/faster. A high-temp silicone sleeve ($5) is now on the handle, and I'll probably will never take it off.

                      If you can't see it from their photos, the handles on many of their pans are attached with FOUR rivets, which makes for a very stout joint. I've only ever seen four-rivet setups in much larger stockpots and helper handles before.

                      Like I said in another thread, Cesare & Isolda are very nice people.

                2. re: tim irvine

                  Tim: I have an angle on 2, 3-mm fait touts that fit your bill. I would be happy to point you to them if we can correspond privately (I do fear the Wrath of Mods).

                  1. re: kaleokahu


                    I would be interested to know more about the pros and cons of a fait tout. I am fond of the Courgeat evasees that I have, as I can use whisks in them and they have lots of surface area for reducing sauces. They are pretty much my go-to pans. Thanks, KenK

                    1. re: kdkrone

                      KenK: I do not consider myself expert. And I own neither an evassee or saucier, at least as they are now configured and sold. So I disclaim any comparative knowledge.

                      As the name suggests, the fait tout (lit. "does all") is a truncated cone shape that combines a relatively small bottom with a significantly larger-diameter rim. They typically have heights proportionate to straight-walled saucepans of like upper diameter.

                      As I see it the "pros" are: (1) Versatility in handling more widely-varying volumes of liquid foods, i.e., the geometry allows significant depth of sauces even for a relatively small volume, without radically increasing the evaporative surface area past reasonable proportion; (2) Really the same principle, but foods requiring reduction to a large degree have their bases kept small; (3) The evaporative surface are IS increased somewhat over a 90-degree saucepan, which can speed reductions; and (4) The obtuse "corner angles" allow easier access with utensils, theoretically making it less likely to have scorching in the corners. All of the above also mean that (5) One can have fewer pans in their battery.

                      Cons: (1) The corners aren't perfect for whisks (but hey, I think the utensil argument is a little silly); (2) The small bottom even in a large fait tout is typically too small to saute properly, and trying to make it work crowds the food too much; (3) They can be a little tippy; and (4) In copper, they tend to be more expensive than other shapes, maybe because they require split chucks.

                      Hope that helps.