Deciding between All Clad and Sitram
After 27 years of marriage and the same Calphalon, I am keeping the husband and getting new cookware. Here are two choices that I am considering. Opinions, please?
Here's what I get from All-Clad 7 pieces for $319.
* 8-inch fry pan, 1-1/2-quart covered saucepan, 3-quart covered saute pan, and 6-quart covered stockpot
Sitram 10 piece for $359
*6 1/4" saucepan and cover, 8" saucepan and cover, 9" half stock pot and cover, 11" saute and cover, steamer insert and 11" fry pan.
You didn't say which Sitram line you were considering. The Catering pieces have copper disc bottoms (sandwiched in stainless), while the Profiserie ones have thick aluminum disc bottoms (also sandwiched in stainless). I believe they have a couple of other, lower-priced lines as well. My only hands-on experience is with the Catering, which performs wonderfully well and is nearly indestructible, but has uncomfortable utilitarian handles that are a little long for a typical domestic cooktop. Profiserie seems lighter, but has more comfortable and somewhat better-proportioned handles. Reportedly, neither line is all that good with induction, so if that's a consideration for you, All-Clad Stainless is probably a better choice. I agree with RxDiesel that the All-Clad MC2 line is a very good value, especially if you're OK with purchasing seconds from Cookware 'n' More (and, again, don't care about induction compatibility). I have pieces from both of those All-Clad lines and like the MC2 better than the Stainless, in part because it's thicker.
re: Miss Priss
Priss, I have only had the MC2 stuff for a couple of weeks, but am very pleased with it - in part, I'm sure, because I have cooked for years on truly marginal, thin, revere/farberware stuff. Unfortunately, my propane gas cooktop [GE Profile, even!] falls a little short on flame control, but the MC2's even heat distribution avoids hot spots and really helps deal with this. Recent examples: I made a cooktop rice pudding in the 3 qt. saucier that completely avoided the hot spots/sticking issues I usually have making this dish, and made a toasted orzo [sorta like risotto] reduced in stock in the saute pan that worked perfectly. I'm sold on the MC-2 lines' thick aluminum base & sides, with the SS lining [nonreactive to acids and easy to clean]. It remains to be seen how easy the brushed aluminum exterior will be to clean as the pots age, but I'm a happy camper.
While you do get a discount for buying sets, for most people it's more efficient to pick and choose a la carte to get the ideal mix of cookware. Just make sure you have need for all sizes in the sets. I wouldn't have much use for a stainless 8" fry pan, for instance, though I do frequently use a non-stick small fry pan for eggs (and I don't buy expensive ones since the non-stick surface inevitably wears off).
I echo the recommendation for the MC2 version of All-Clad rather than the stainless.
One of my most-used pieces of cookware is about a 12" diam. deep skillet by Sitram. It's incredibly good--heavy, even, gives a good sear, has both a long handle and a loop helper handle, all metal so can go in a hot oven, and it cleans up like a dream. The only negative is that it's got a cheap cover which has a flat, rather than rolled, edge and we've dented it by dropping it.
Suggest you consider the All Clad MC-2 line, which is brushed [not the very expensive hard anodized, dishwasher safe stuff] aluminum, lined in stainless. You can be more selective than the pre-assembled sets by purchasing seconds [very minor cosmetic flaws, in my experience] from Cookware & More, the Trooper, PA AC outlet. Very good heat distribution, quality cookware. I assume you almost always cook for only two, given the sizes in the 'sets.' When I recently took a hard look at what we had at home and used [mostly old, cheap revere and farberware I have had since the early 80s], and considered how I cook [on gas, normally for two, but maybe once a month for as many as 10-12 people], I bought the following MC-2 from Cookware & More: 8 & 12" skillets; a 3.5 qt. saute pan [covered, 10.5" skillet, vertical sides]; 2 qt. covered saucepan; 3 qt. covered saucier [8", rounded sides saucepan], with a steamer insert; and an 8 qt. stockpot w/cover. Ran me a little over $500. I retained a decent old Farberware alum base saucepan with double-boiler & cover, and one old 5 qt. stockpot for cooking pasta, etc. On my 'maybe' list for future consideration: the very nice and utilitarian MC-2 3.5 qt. casserole [8", the steamer or a double boiler will work in it] and either an All Clad or Cuisinart 12 qt. stockpot/multicooker [with basket inserts].
The alternative I most considered was the Cuisinart multiclad pro line, which fits into the price point you describe. Its a lighter weight alum. than the MC-2, and tri-ply [SS exterior, if you like that], but very highly thought of . Good luck!
I have all the pieces included in the All-Clad set you listed, and use them all pretty frequently and am quite satisfied in all respects. The covered stockpot is very useful for making larger batches of skillet pasta dishes, for example, and it also doubles as a dutch oven, and scored well in Cooks Illustrated tests as a dutch oven alternative.
All-Clad is long-term quality and American made, points I find in its favor. The handles are suitable to me, though you may have different tastes. I prefer cookware without rolled edges and pouring lips, so the All-Clad designs are fine for my use.
Sitram is also a decent brand, so if you prefer their handles and want or need the additional pieces in their set, that may be a good choice that only you can determine.
However, of all the cookware of various types I have purchased over the years, All-Clad remains my favorite and the ones I am most glad to have spent the money on. Stainless gets a lot of use in my cooking because I do a lot with tomatoes and vinegar and lemon, and cast iron or carbon steel pieces are not suitable for higher acid foods.
Both are good brands, so your question is personal preference. Some things to keep in mind:
* Do you seriously NEED all the items in the set, and want all said items to be stainless steel?
* Do you want to pay those "brand" prices for a stockpot, which mostly just boils water?
* Are the lids interchangable among the different pieces? (From what you posted I'll guess not, but some brands have standard widths.)
* Are the handles comfortable?
* Are the edges rounded so that when you pour hot liquid out it doesn't drizzle down the side of the pot or pan?
* Are the diameters compatible with your burner sizes?