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Dec 26, 2010 03:28 PM

Next piece of copper cookware?

I'm the lucky recipient of an 11" Mauviel saute pan (this one: and spent much of yesterday and today trying things out with it. I'm really impressed with the pan's responsiveness and even heat. Now I'm thinking of getting another piece and would love your advice on which one to spring for.

I'd like a pan for making cream-based sauces and delicate desserts (like custards and puddings). I see three approaches: a standard sauce pan, with straight sides, a splayed sauce pan (like, and a saucier-type pan (like Falk's "Try Me" piece):

The splayed pan and saucier are, it seems, designed with reducing sauces in mind, which makes them great for one of my purposes. But I've got a small kitchen and don't want to specialize too much with such an expensive piece of equipment. Would a saucier or splayed pan be difficult to use in other situations, like cooking custard or making soups? I've never had trouble reducing sauces in a standard saucepan, so if the splayed/saucier models are too specialized, I'd probably go with a straight-sided pan.

Also, any advice on size? I usually cook for two, but love entertaining for up to eight. I'm tempted by Falk's "try me" offer on a 1.5-quart saucier. A lot of sauce can fit in a 1.5-quart, but would that be too small for desserts/soups/general usage? In that case, it might be worth paying up for 2.5 or 3 quarts for something I'd use more often. And would those pans be too big for sauces for two?

Lots of questions there. Thanks in advance for any advice.

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  1. vitruvius: Welcome to the world of copper cookware. You are lucky indeed to have been gifted such a wonderful pan.

    "I've never had trouble reducing sauces in a standard saucepan." There is a reason for that: the standard shape and proportion was made for sauces and excels at them. "Sauciers" are a much more recent innovation, and while they reduce faster by virtue of their larger surface-to-volume ratio, their only real advantage is the ergonomic one of easier access with whisks, etc. That and being a little more multi-purpose, for frying and saute.

    The splayed (aka Windsor and Fait Tout) shape is an earlier idea, but still a compromise (fait tout meaning "does all"). Here, the truncated cone shape makes it possible to sauce varying portions with fewer NUMBERS of pans, and there is a marginal utensil-friendly advantage. Because of this shape, the surface-to-volume ratio stays closer to what you started with as the sauce reduces. On the other hand, if you want to be especially finicky about sauces, you will want to change to ever-smaller straight saucepans to keep the ratio right.

    An issue to consider is the footprint of the pan, and how it is sized to your hob. Even though copper is a fantastic conductor, a 9" saucier or a 9" fait tout is going to have a smaller footprint on a 9" hob than a 9" straight-walled saucepan. The latter will tend to put more heat into the pot a little faster, the former to get heat OUT of the pan and food a little faster (but at the cost of the sauces skinning over/requiring more buttering) once they're off the heat.

    So, if you think you might be immune to copper addiction, and/or you think you can stop at just ONE more pan, a fait tout may be ideal for you; a saucier will probably overlap too much with your already-excellent saute. But a traditional saucepan will be an excellent choice. I, too, cook mostly for 2-8, and the saucepan I reach for most often is a 7", which nicely fits most hobs. If you send me an e-mail at, I can point you to a source for FOUR new 3mm straightwall pans with lids for <$400, which is about what you'd pay for one thinner fait tout.

    Lastly, even if you are thrilled with the SS-lined saute, I would encourage you to also at least TRY a tinned pan. Many folks prefer tinned, and it would be better for you to learn your preference now, before you acquire many of one kind and wish you'd gone the other way.

    Enjoy your new pan.

    2 Replies
    1. re: kaleokahu

      Thanks for the great answer, Kaleokahu! I've got a small budget at the moment, so I've ended up ordering the "try-me" piece from Falk. But I'd love to know where to find those straightwall pans.

      1. re: vitruvius

        You're welcome. Just send me an email.