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Should I upgrade to LeCreuset or All-Clad Stainless?

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Finally upgrading my cookware. I have 3 new pieces: LeCreuset 5.5 quart Dutch Oven, LC5 quart Braiser and All-Clad 12" Non-Stick Frypan. I want to round out my collection with a few additional pieces and donate my current cookware. Storage space is at a minimum so I need to select pieces I'll use everyday.

Would a 3.5 qt. LC Dutch Oven be a good everyday piece or should I select an All-Clad saucier or saucepan? Considering a 3 or 4 quart. I need a piece to heat rice, soup and vegetables.

I also need to purchase a versatile stockpot for boiling pasta, etc. Any suggestions?

Thank you, my fellow foodies. I'm new to Chowhound and find these message boards invaluable.

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  1. Excellent start to your collection! I'm kind of in the same phase as you but further along in my new collection. I have a 3 qt AC saucier (got a discontinued model with a pouring lip and helper handle) that I really like in a smaller size. I think you could do all the things you asked about in a LC but if you ever need to make a sauce or reduction or do something more delicate in the pan you might want something that is more able to turn on a dime than cast iron. (Copper is really the turn on a dime material though.)

    For stockpot I can't really help too much. I use an 8 qt Fagor Duo pressure cooker as my big pot which really isn't that big. It's an awesome tool though.

    Do you have any other skillets or saute pans for searing, etc?

    1. Great choice on the dutch oven, and I'm jealous of your brasier! I can't really justify that piece but just lust after it.

      For future purchases: my own preference would be to get a stainless pot in your 3-4 qt. size, since I'd want to avoid the weight of cast iron for something that you're likely lifting pretty frequently. Unless your pockets are fairly deep I don't know if I'd bother with All-Clad for something used to heat rice, soup, vegetables, and pasta. You won't go wrong with All-Clad, but it may be overkill--though that said, my spouse loves our 4 qt. saucepan in All-Clad's brushed aluminum exterior. If price *is* an issue, maybe consider another brand's clad cookware like Tramontina. For pasta, my family either uses a relatively inexpensive 6 qt. stainless pot with a disc bottom, or an 8 or 10 qt. stainless pot with colander insert that we got for about $30 at a warehouse store. It's been great. I don't see the need for expensive cladding for a pot to boil water, though on my smooth-top electric stove I do really need a very flat bottom, which the disc bottom provides. I feel the same way about roasting pans--if you're using dry heat for a piece of meat on a rack, why buy expensive cladding? I *can* see getting something heavy and durable, since I warped my 9 x 13 stainless pan by heating it on a burner to make gravy after a roast was out of the oven, but I personally wouldn't buy a $200 All-Clad. I'm also of the school that buys a new non-stick frying pan every few years, sticking with something inexpensive. Obviously you'll find very different opinions here, it will be interesting to see the advice you get.

      1. Get a 4 qt allclad saute pan and youre all set

        1. Hi, letrell:

          You have made a good start.

          IMO, you already have the most useful LC pans, so I'd stop there before you do any damage. I think you need to add in a bare cast iron skillet or griddle, and a couple of saucepans. For the saucepans, I would say a 1.5Q and 2-2.5Q would be a good start. And with thick disk bottoms. Make and model sorta depend on your budget. How much are you prepared to spend?

          Stockpots can be trickier. If you actually make a lot of stock, a disk bottom can help here, too (if you do your mirrepoix in the pot), as does a more conductive and energy efficient material, such as Al. As does size--how often, really, do you want to make stock per month? On the other hand, if your use of the stocker will be only for boiling/blanching, you can get by with even a thin, inexpensive pot and put the savings toward better saucepans.

          Another thing about stockpot size: even for boiling or blanching small amounts of food, the larger the volume of boiling liquid, the shorter the recovery time, and hence the shorter the cooking time, and hence the better texture and more colorful the food. Something in the 14-20Q range is good, and also allows you to do lobsters and crabs.

          The so-called "pasta inserts" are great. Easy in, easy out, and makes an icewater plunge quick. But here's a dilemma: the pots that come bundled with them usually aren't that great (or large), and buying the insert separately is pretty pricey. The answer: kitchen supply houses. Vollrath makes one that has a handle and lip, and straddles the rim of your pot; this unit also doubles as a hell-for-stout colander. If you want to be really fancy, several mfgrs make pie-shaped inserts so you can boil up to 4 different pastas/veggies in the same pot.

          Hope this helps.

          4 Replies
          1. re: kaleokahu

            Could you link me to some of these insets? Thanks!

            In my own experience I'll add that I prefer clad small saucepans so that the sides don't scorch. It depends on the size of your burners though.

            1. re: olympia

              +1 on the sauce pans
              My 2 and 4 qt. stainless all-clad sauce pans are used almost every day.
              +1 on the kitchen supply houses for a large soup pot and a larger stock pot.
              I have never felt the need to spend $$$$ on these pieces.
              But if you initend to cook cream based soups you may want to consider a clad soup pot-but that also depends on how many people you cook for.

              1. re: olympia

                Hi, olympia:

                Bargreen Ellingson has them. https://www.bargreen.com/index.php/Pr... And here's another source: http://www.wasserstrom.com/restaurant...

                On a smaller scale, I've seen at kitchen stores what amounts to a mesh silicone bag or pouch you can sort of use to the same effect.

                1. re: kaleokahu

                  Interesting, thanks for the links! I was hoping it would work with the pressure cooker but perhaps not.

            2. My 3 quart All-Clad saucepan and 7.5 quart LeCreuset Oven are my daily go-tos. I am jealous of your 5.5 Quart Oven. My next step down is a 4 quart oval pan that is really too small. I gotta get a 5.5 quart!

              1. My pasta pot is the cheapest, lightest 8 qt. stainless stockpot I could find, 20+ years ago, and I've never had to replace it. It came with a pentola, but I always thought that made more of a mess than it was worth. I think I threw it out. It has a steamer basket that was always useful for small amounts.

                I used to make stock in it, then in an 8-qt. LC enameled steel stockpot, which I do NOT recommend buying, because it chipped in so many places. Now I use my 8-qt. All Clad, which is called a stockpot, but is shaped like a Dutch oven. I also have a 16-qt aluminum stockpot, but it's more than I need for cooking, and is too tall to clean easily. I've used it as a trashcan at my desk for years now.

                I have both a 3-qt. All Clad saucepan and a 3.5 qt. Le Creuset French oven. I haven't had the LC piece long enough to actually prefer one over the other. I've used the AC piece for making bechamel sauce and lemon curd, and I haven't made either of those things since I bought the LC piece.

                I bought both pieces within the last two years, and honestly, I think I'd rather have a 4-qt. All Clad saucepan with a loop across from the handle than either of the smaller pieces. These are whisk-intensive sauces, and I've frequently wished the All Clad were a little bigger, even though the amount I was making was often considerably less than 3 or 3.5 qt.

                7 Replies
                1. re: Jay F

                  I consider my two 4 qt. Calphelon commercial sauce pans to be the real work horses in my kitchen. I make rice in them, small batches of soup, chili, sauces, pasta, stock..I have the steaming and double boiler inserts as well so they get use for steaming and reheating, making chocolate sauce, delicate sauces...the list goes on and on. I would say at least one of them is on my stove for every meal. Mine are quarter inch thick aluminum, anodized, although now after 25 years most of the anodizing is worn off on the inside bottom. They are not too big and not too small. So I would recommend the 4 qt size All-Clad or similar, with the steaming insert at the least and the double boiler if you're cooking things that need that low super-even heat.

                  Stock pots...I have several...an old Revere Ware that now sees only sporadic usage until it's a simple matter of boiling water. An Alessi that has seen better days but works and has a pasta insert. I think they are both 8 qt. My thoughts: it *really* doesn't matter.

                  The only time I use my 20 qt. is when I'm cooking for an army or steaming some huge pile of shellfish. I cannot for the life of me imagine dragging that monster out and navigating around it on the stove just to blanch a small clutch of vegetables because of recovery time. Sorry, ain't gonna happen for the marginally better color or texture.

                  1. re: LovinSpoonful

                    >>>Mine are quarter inch thick aluminum, anodized, although now after 25 years most of the anodizing is worn off on the inside bottom.

                    A friend sent one of her Calphalon pans back for this reason about ten years ago, and they replaced it for free. They have a lifetime guarantee like Le Creuset.

                    1. re: Jay F

                      I'm not sure that's any bargain nowadays. The Calphalon pots from 25 years ago were MUCH heavier and thicker than the ones sold today, from what I've seen. Even with the anodizing worn off, an old one might be preferable.

                      1. re: luvsummer

                        I had wondered about that. I have a 7 qt/14" saute pan from Calphalon's original line, and it sits on the burners -- it's so big, I've often used two burners -- just fine when I stir whatever I'm making.

                        Amazon had a ridiculously good price on an 8 qt Dutch oven several years ago, and it was so light, it slid around on the burner as I pretended to be cooking, stirring an onion around the empty pot with my favorite wooden spoon. I sent it back.

                    2. re: LovinSpoonful

                      Hi, LovinSpoonful:

                      You must have more powerful hobs than I do to keep water boiling in an 8Q stocker when a pound of pasta or raw veggies goes in (or else you have a mondo Buffalo Iron).

                      My 14Q Ruffoni is actually very light and not particularly monster(ish? -like?). The 50Q Elkington, on the other hand, does stock and crab only about once a month, and is a beverage tub/plant holder the rest of the year.

                      Sometime I'd like to A-B the 0.250 aluminum like you have with 0.125 copper. The conductivity numbers would indicate rough equivalence, with a little less responsiveness.

                      Kaleo

                      1. re: kaleokahu

                        Yeah these are the first generation of "prosumer" pots that Calphalon sold with the dark anodizing. They lids all have the "Commercial Cookware" stamp on them and simply riveted handles. They are much thicker than the current stuff and they are absolutely bombproof. I adore them. They must have made them until recently as ebay is loaded with the stuff.

                        >>Sometime I'd like to A-B the 0.250 aluminum like you have with 0.125 copper. The conductivity numbers would indicate rough equivalence, with a little less responsiveness.

                        In all honesty I threw out my 3 mm copper pots eventually after I got the Calphelon. I was tired of rusting handles and polishing (and hotspots if you didn't). I had bought them all in Paris and at that point most of them needed to be retinned. They are were beautiful and all but the Calphelon performed equivalently and required zero maintenance. If I ever buy a new pot set it would likely be the tri-ply stainless/copper stuff.

                        1. re: LovinSpoonful

                          >>>They must have made them until recently as ebay is loaded with the stuff.

                          I bought mine in the 1980s. It cost $50 because they were phasing it out and introducing the new line. Mine had the "silver" aluminum lid. The new line had anodized gray lids that matched the pans.