Calphalon vs. All-Clad stainless?
I have essentially all Calphalon pots and pans at home, and am quite happy with them. I also have two LeC Dutch ovens, and a few non-stick pans that I use pretty much only for eggs. Whenever I watch cooks on TV do their thing, or go to stores like W/S or Sur la T, pretty much everyone uses or pushes stainless pans, especially All-Clad. Am I using inferior cookware? I seem to be able to do pretty much everything reasonably well in my Calphalon (the plain...not the non-stick). Is stainless really significantly better? Should I consider gradually replacing my Calphalon with All-Clad? What do you think...I'm beginning to get an inferiority complex!
My favorite ancient non-stick skillet pooped out a year or two ago, and I replaced it with a Cuisinart non-stick pan that warped almost as soon as I looked at it. I have a smooth top range now, and need perfectly flat skillets. Anyway, I replaced the Cuisinart one with an anodized Calphalon non-stick because the Calphalon Tri-ply saucier that I had purchased a while back has become my favorite saucepan, and I figured I'd try another Calphalon. Which also warped as soon as I looked at it. So I have been cooking with that rocky annoying thing for almost a year, and last week replaced that one with a Calphalon Tri-ply 12" skillet.
I love it, absolutely love it.
The bottom is miles thick, the inside is shiny and smooth, it heats up faster than any skillet I have ever owned, and to get it saute' hot, it only needs to be on medium heat or less.
The day I bought the Calphalon skillet, my choices in hand were that, or the same size All-Clad, at twice the price. I love the flared out sides of this Calphalon, and rather than choose by snobbism, I chose by which one had the shape I really needed.
I did extensive research on SS cookware and was surprised that All Clad was not always at the top of the list. CR listed Calphalon Contemporary SS as recommended, while All Clad was not. Also, after reading many postings on various sites, I decided on Calphalon Tri-Ply SS and purchased it at Bed, Bath & Beyond for the same price, and with bonus gifts, as Calphalon's web site.
Cooked shrimp scampi and linguine last night and was greatly impressed. Typically, I add the garlic after the onion so as not to burn the garlic. I put both in at the same time and was able to cook it without the garlic burning. I'm sure one of the secrects to cooking with ANY good SS pan is to preheat the pan on no higher than medium and per the company's directions, never higher than the temp you're going to cook at.
The only reason I went with the Tri-Ply was looks. I liked the shiny versus the brushed Contemporary. I was replacing a 13 yr old Calphalon hard-anodized commercial grade set.
I do have one Emeril SS saucepan that I have used twice and washed by hand and it is already discolored.
So my vote is for the Calphalon SS. I believe you get superior quality for less than half the price of All Clad.
Whatever you decide to go for, be sure to handle the pots before you buy them. I just needed to replace a large skillet. (Take heed if a handle is only guaranateed to a certain oven temp!)
I found the handles on most of the stainless pans (All Clad, Calphalon and Emeril) to be very uncomfortable. One line of Calphalon had rounded handles, but didn't have what I needed in open stock. The others are all made with the bottom of the handle rounded and the top sort of fluted. I guess if you hold the pan underhanded, your thumb would go into that groove. But if you hold them overhanded, the groove cuts into your palm in a way that was very uncomfortable for me. Given that I was looking at large, heavy pans, this was a no-go for me. (though I wouldn't like that handle even with a one quart pot).
So, if your pans are working for you, from both a cooking and ergonomic point of view, why switch?
Most of my cookware is Calphalon Anodized (not the non-stick kind). I have a couple of stainless pieces as well as a LC Dutch Oven and a cast iron skillet.
The only thing I like stainless better for is the 12" skillet, solely because I can see browning better on the lighter surface. I suspect most TV chefs use stainless so that the food can be seen more easily.
If you like the pans you have, keep them. If you need new pans because they are broken, dented or otherwise unusable, then that's another story.
You are most definitely not using inferior cookware.
First off, what do you mean by "...well in my Calphalon (the plain...not the non-stick). Is stainless really significantly better?" ?
What is your plain Calphalon made of? Anodized aluminum or stainless cladded cookware? If it is stainless steel, then what do you mean by "Is stainless really significantly better"? Afterall, you have cladded stainless steel cookware. If you have anodized aluminum, then it is not worse than cladded stainless steel. It is weaker in some areas. It is not dishwasher safe and aluminum is not as strong as stainless steel. (e.g. if you drop it on the floor, you have a better chance to dent it). Otherwise, from a cooking performance perspective, the anodized aluminum is not worse than cladded stainless steel cookware.
Sorry, I was not aware that Calphalon makes a stainless cladded product. All of my Calphalon is anodized aluminum. Indeed, some are the original Calphalon which is imprinted "commercial aluminum cookware". I've never had any problem with denting, I do not put my pots and pans in the dishwasher (they clean up very easily with BKF), and they see to do everything I ask of them. So, I guess that you are saying that from a cooking performance perspective, both products are equivalent. Correct?
Maybe anodized aluminum a bit better -- at least the heat respond is better than cladded stainless steel. Calphalon stopped making the commercial aluminum cookware. Don't forget that All-Clad stainless steel cookware is cladded cookware of stainless steel and aluminum. Stainless exterior/Aluminum core/Stainless interior: