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Nov 11, 2010 11:15 AM

Help with cookware choices

I'm filling up my wedding registry and would love some input on pot and pan sizes. I'm planning on asking for Staub, Demeyere Atlantis and Scanpan items. I am currently cooking for two and will be for the foreseeable future but also make a lot of leftovers and want the capability to cook for more when possible. I'm not exactly going for a minimalist set, but I don't want a lot of overlap in size and capability.

I'm pretty well set in the sizes of the saucepans that I'd like because these are the sizes I use most often now, but could use input as far as the shape goes. Dutch ovens are kind of a new thing to me. And I've just been using my one saute pan for a long time now and am really looking forward to upgrading, but could definitely use some input in that area. Right now I'm thinking:

-1 qt. Demeyere saucepan
-2 qt. Demeyere saucier
-3 qt. Demeyere saucepan (or I could get the "casserole" which has two loop handles rather than the 1 long saucepan handle)
-4 qt. pressure cooker base (I already have this, it's of reasonable quality (Fagor) and like I said I don't want overlap.)
-4 qt. Staub round Dutch oven (5 qt. seems to be more popular, but I want a bit of a smaller base for no-knead bread baking)
-4.2 qt. Demeyere saute pan (the diameter on this is 11")
-6 qt. Staub round Dutch oven (I'm not sure on this one. I saw the 8 qt. and it seems too big. Anyone have experience fitting a chicken into this size?)
-7 qt. pressure cooker base (again, I already have this. This will be my "stock pot", at least until I move into a house with a bigger kitchen).
-10 inch Scanpan CTX nonstick skillet
-11 inch Demeyere skillet
-? inch ? brand cast iron fry pan

All of these are induction compatible (not important at the moment but probably in the future) and oven safe (except for the pressure cooker).

I'm not sure on what kind of cast iron skillet to get. I'd prefer something enameled. Am I losing out on functionality by doing this? Staub only really makes one kind, and I can only find them at Williams Sonoma. How about Le Creuset for this piece? Other recommendations? What would you recommend as far as size goes? I don't want it to be so large that I can't cook a reasonable amount of corn bread in it.

What are your thoughts overall? Am I forgetting something? Unnecessarily overlapping something? I'm especially unsure with having both a 11 inch saute and 11 inch skillet on my list. Is that necessary? Should I size down for one? Which one?

Thanks for your help. I want to make sure I get a ton of use out of these expensive pieces.

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  1. That's an impressive list.

    I can comment on the Staub Dutch oven: The oval Coq au Vin is just under 6 qt and will easily fit a chicken or a 5 lb roast. We have a 5qt. round and it too will fit a 5 lb. roast, don't think we've ever tried a whole chicken in it, but I get 4 breasts in it just fine for a version of chichen vesuvio. We also have the 8 qt. round and it will fit just about anything you would want to cook in it. That's a big pot.

    3 Replies
    1. re: mikie

      Thanks for responding! What you're saying is what I was suspecting. At first I was thinking of going with the ~6qt oval, but I want to be able to use it on the stovetop so would like to stick to round. I can probably live with not being able to cook a chicken (or having to find pretty small ones) that way for a few years, and then I'll just get the 8 quart at some point. I saw the 12 quart oval in a store the other day. Holy. Cow. You could fit a small turkey in there.

      1. re: colbert

        Yah, the 12 -13 qt. models are about 25 lbs or so empty. If you just put water in them, you're looking at another 25 lbs or so. Who the heck is going to lift a 50 lb. hot pot in and out of the oven. Unless you're an NFL lineman that likes to cook, I think those are just out of consideration.

        My wife actually made a very nice roast in the oval oven, browning it on all sides on the stove top. It was at our daughter's house and she has a glass top stove, don't know if that made the heat spread out more or not, but it worked great. She was there about a week and made three meals in the Coq au Vin, all with enough left over for them to eat another meal or two. You're going to love the Dutch Oven.

        1. re: mikie

          Oh that's good to know. Hmm. I'll have to look into the oval vs. round thing more.

    2. One question....

      Do you cook?

      The list is quite impressive, but if you don't cook, why bother? If you do cook, then you already know what you need or want.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Ambimom

        Huh. Yes, I do cook, thank you.

        I don't know exactly what I need because I'm cooking on a mishmash of hand-me-downs and college-budget cookware. I currently have one frying pan, and am constantly having to improvise to make things work in it. My only nonstick pan is a wok (worst use of nonstick ever), so I'm limited to about a 6" circle on which I can actually cook anything. I'm asking for input because I'm quite a ways from having enough cookware to narrow down what I really need.

      2. Impressive list. What kind of stuff are you cooking? Big batches of soups? Breads? Stir-frys? Your preferences will determine your wishlist.

        I'm probably the wrong person to respond, because I've got a pretty minimalist kitchen:

        - 1 13 qt LC french oven : we are soup fiends and adore leftovers + it is also the perfect size for roasting a hen w/vegetables
        - 1 5 qt LC braiser : makes an excellent saute/stir-fry pan, perfect size for skillet cakes, great prep pan too
        - 1 3 qt LC saucier : great size for caramelizing a couple of onions, making sauces, et al.

        I have a couple of tall stainless steel pots as well for cheesemaking, and some bakeware in various & sundry, but by and large those three LC pans do everything I ask of them (with flying colors) and clean up like a dream. I cook just about every meal @ home & haven't ever wanted for more.

        3 Replies
        1. re: muirne81

          Oh hey! A fellow cheesemaker! Well, I'm being generous calling myself one but I work on a goat farm and have a steady supply of milk with which to experiment, usually with terrible results! Oh well, I'm learning. I currently use the 7 quart pressure cooker pot nestled inside a big aluminum pressure canner full of water to heat my milk. Someday I hope to upgrade to a less awkward setup but as it happens, as soon as I get married I'll be moving away from the goat farm so my milk supply will dry up for a few years (until I can get a couple of my own).

          Anyway, thanks for the input! Food for thought.

          1. re: colbert

            Aw, yea for fellow cheeseheads!!!!! :-) You may want to add a heavy-bottomed stainless steel pot to your list - even if your milk supply dries up for a bit, they're fantastic pots for pasta, asparagus, etc. One of those kinds of pots that doesn't get used all the time, but when you need it, its wonderful to have on hand. Maybe you can find a set of nesting pots to minimize the amount of storage space?

            1. re: muirne81

              Actually the pressure cooker pot does have quite a thick bottom - it and its little brother are probably the nicest pots I currently own. I'll think about a bigger one if I come across it though. My dream setup would be a 3 gallon stainless pot in the Weck electric canner...

        2. I think I remember reading somewhere that the 1 qt. Demeyere saucepan wasn't induction friendly or at least it lacked performance in that area because it had a too small base.

          I own the 1.6qt, 2.3qt and the 3.2qt Atlantis saucepans and I find no overlap what so ever. Everyday four times a day I need to fill the 3.2qt full of water and bring it to a boil for washing up (I don't have any hot water in my taps) and I don't have an issue with one long handle as opposed to two loop handles when moving the pot. But then again I am stronger than the average 26 year old female.

          I also own the 4.2qt Atlantis sauté pan and the 9'4" and 12'6" fry pan. I use my sauté pan pretty much every day and it's the perfect size for my husband and I (but I always cook leftovers).
          Now I've actually learnt how to cook eggs without sticking in my Demeyere skillet (took some time but it is possible) so I've found that I don't need a non-stick pan in my kitchen (one less thing for me to store).
          To be honest I've only used the 12'6" fry pan once (it's in storage with most of my stuff - long story) and even though it made a mean fried rice at this stage of my life I could definitely get away with just the large sauté pan and the medium fry pan.

          I also own the conical sauteuse since I make a lot of sauces and it serves as a deep fryer.

          5 Replies
          1. re: snax

            Ahh this is insanely helpful. Thank you! OK, nixing the 1 qt. I currently have a dinky little 1 quart saucepan but if I'm being honest it's really only useful for heating up a serving or two of soup. I think I'll do the same as you and go with the 1.6 as the smallest. Those extra two cups give a lot of extra versatility, I suspect. The pots I currently use most often are 1, 2, 2.5, 3 and 4 quart, so I definitely want at least a couple in that range.

            Saute pan check, fry pan is gone. I've never needed anything that big either but sometimes I find myself watching the Barefoot Contessa and she's using a gigantic skillet and I think I need it. It's not like I can't get that one in the future should it become more practical when small humans roam at my feet.

            Which size sauteuse do you have? I was going to go with the ~2 quart one, as a saucepan substitute that would also work for making sauces easily but I hadn't thought of the deep frying ability. Also, do you find that the lid slides off (if you have the lid)? I was feeling all of the pots at Sur La Table and I'm hoping it was just that they had the wrong lid on there, but it wouldn't "click" into place like the others.

            Thanks again for your help. You've given me reassurance and clarity.

            1. re: snax

              Oh, and any tips on keeping eggs from sticking?

              1. re: colbert

                Glad I can help. Also just in case you have a rice cooker on your registry, you may want to hold off as the saucepans work wonders at cooking perfect basmati, jasmine and plain old white rice (I can't buy any other rice here to test if they work, but once again this is one less thing for me to have to store) as they have a nice thick base with a lid that holds the moisture in.

                I too was seduced with the large fry pan and the only reason why I bought it was because I was buying everything together and got a great discount, but I really don't have a need for it now. And not that I can really speak but perhaps just buying a cast iron skillet would be better anyway? It’s better for searing and browning meats etc and cheaper, but in my case I need my cookware to be dishwasher friendly as well as non reactive to acidic foods.
                Regarding the sauteuse I ended up purchasing the 3.5qt. which shares lids with my 5.5qt. casserole. I have never tried the lid on the sauteuse as they arrive separately so unsure about the issue you have with the lid sliding off. As far as deep frying goes the bigger the pan the more oil it holds and the less the temp will drop when you start to cook food in it which is good, but if the pot is too big for your sauces then you may occur problems there. Took me ages to decide and in the end a saucepan can suffice so only get if it’s really going to assist you.
                Also I believe the specs for both the Atlantis and Apollo sauteuse are the same regarding the base. Meaning same pot different handle.
                I can’t help but think how similar we are, as I have my eye on a Staub Dutch oven, and I also own a pressure cooker (which I have never used and have no idea where to start)
                Just out of curiosity which colour KitchenAid stand mixer would you choose?

                To stop eggs from sticking you need to heat the empty pan on medium for a couple of minutes then reduce the heat and let it cool a little, add a small amount of butter and then your good to add your room temperature eggs.

                1. re: snax

                  Wow I'm glad you said that about the rice cooker because I was going to add one. I haven't gotten one yet because I've been stubborn thinking that I could get rice to turn out well without one but have had consistently bad results. Sounds like it's just my pans!

                  I highly recommend getting to know the pressure cooker. I got mine from my mom who bought it thinking she'd use it but didn't. But I use it all the time, and did even when I was a single college student. Cooking beans in it is worth the time getting to know how to use it alone.

                  I actually already have a KitchenAid mixer (6q bowl lift) that I got for a birthday when I was 18. It's the burgundy color, which isn't my favorite. I've actually meant to look into tutorials on spray painting the thing. Something bright! You?

                  I'll have to try that with eggs the next time I cook them. Thanks!

                  1. re: colbert

                    I'll have to look into the pressure cooker. I have a bag on chickpeas that need to be cooked, so I'll give it a go.

                    As far as the mixer goes I have my eye on the boysenbery!

            2. I'll comment on the cast iron skillet. Most corn bread recipes work great in a 10 inch which will result in corn bread with a thickness of around 3/4 inch tall. I don't have any experience with an enameled skillet. I'm certain that out of everything I own if given the choice of only owning one thing it would be the 10 inch seasoned cast iron skillet. Works on everything, durable, easy to clean, stove top to oven to grill to campfire. With the exception of acidic stuff it can do it all.

              2 Replies
              1. re: SanityRemoved

                Talk to me about cleaning. I wash all of my dishes by hand, but I find myself cooking with the one piece of cast iron I have because I hate to clean it so much. But I would not be surprised at all to find that I'm doing it wrong. How do you clean yours?

                1. re: colbert

                  While it is still warm I use hot water and a nylon brush. Then dry it on the stove and coat with a little oil. If something won't come off I use a mixture of Kosher salt and oil with a paper towel on a warm pan. Great for removing any gummy residue.