Should I upgrade to LeCreuset or All-Clad Stainless?
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.
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?
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.
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.
+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.
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!