Need advise - what all clad pots and pans to buy?
I've been lucky to receive cash as a birthday gift and want to purchase my first all-clad pots and pans. At first, I was considering a set, (10 piece set at Macys) but the 10" and 8" fry pans and 3 qt saute pan seem too small for the cooking I do (family of 4). Also the set comes with an 8qt stock pan that I really don't think I need since I love my le creuset pan and use it quite frequently What all-clad 3-ply pans would you recommend? I'm considering
4 qt saute pan
3 qt sauce pan with lid
12" fry pan
2.5 qt steamer and pan
What else should I consider? Would all-clad pans be best for searing and making sauces?
These new pans will replace a very old Calphalon anodized set.
I have quite a few All Clad SS pieces. Here is what I use the most frequently:
10" fry pan
2 qt sauce
3 qt sauce
3 qt saute
8 qt stock
2 qt saucier
steamer insert for 3 qt sauce
Things I use occasionally:
3 qt saucier
6 qt saute
Things I rarely use:
2 qt saute
1 qt saucier
large roasting pan
melter insert for 3 qt sauce
For searing I use the saute pans or skillets. For sauce making I use the sauce pans or saucier pans (the later if what I'm making requires a lot of stirring like a risotto, roux, etc).
I also have a 5 1/2 qt le creuset enamel pot that sees a lot of work as does my 10" cast iron pan. My 5 qt cast dutch oven and 12" cast iron pan see much less.
I'm single but I usually cook for 4-6 and either eat left overs or freeze for later.
I've got quite a few All Clad pieces and I love them! Most of mine are the D5 but I have two pieces of the triply. I'll heartily recommend getting the 6 qt saute rather than the 12 in fry and the 4 qt saute. I do have the 4 qt saute too but prefer the 6 qt. Rather than the sauce pan I'd get a 3 qt saucier. I'd personally like to get a 1 qt saucier too but probably won't as I've got a butter warmer as well as a 1.7 qt saucier from another company.
After researching here I bought a variety of brands and materials. If you don't already have some cast iron I'd definitely recommend getting a skillet and possibly a grill pan. It's really perfect for searing. Another recommendation, rather than getting an 8 qt stock pot think about an 8 qt pressure cooker. You can use it for stock but you and also do things like pressure cook dried beans for soup in about 40 minutes or even pressure cook an entire chicken. You can effectively make the pot smaller by cooking with a stainless steel bowl inside the pot. I would have never known about one until I researched on here.
I guess I'd ask what you have now and how/what you like to cook. That would help us help you.
What sort of cooking do you like to do? Staying with the All Clad stainless line and using Macy's as a price reference:
1) Do you really need a saute pan and a fry pan of similar diameters? While they are not completely interchangable, there is a lot of overlap. Would you be better served by getting one of a different diameter or changing the fry pan to a good but inexpensive non-stick?
2) The 3 qt sauce and the 2.5 qt sauce pan also seem to be of very similar size. Are you getting the 2.5 qt sauce pan mainly for the steamer? If so, would that steamer be sufficient size for your family?
3) As others have mentioned, the 4qt saute pan is the same diameter as the 3qt saute pan (10.5"). Does the extra 0.5in of wall height make much of a difference to you? Would you be better served going to the 6qt saute pan at 13.5" diameter?
12" fry pan $155 -> no change $155
4 qt saute pan $150 -> 6 qt saute $190
(2" increase in diameter, consider overlap with fry pan...)
3 qt sauce pan with lid $185 -> 3.5qt sauce $140
(I tink that the 3.5qt is supposed to be a bonus item, but it is being sold seperately for less than the 3qt sauce pan, so why not save money?
2.5 qt steamer and pan $180 -> 12 qt multipot $150
There is a lot of overlap with the 3 or 3.5qt sauce pan. Also the 12qt multi pot has a lot more use (larger steamer, stock pot, pasta strainer), but it is a disk-bottom pot, not a 3 ply all the way through.
Total $620 -> $635
If you are willing to consider other multiply brands, how about the Mauviel 5 ply M'Cook line:
3.6 qt Sauce (8" dia) stainless steel handle $144
1.9 qt Spayed Saute (8" dia) with cast-iron handle $126
6.4 qt sauce pan (9.5" dia) cast iron handle $150
3.4 qt saute w lid and helper handle (9.5" dia) steel handle $190
I did not know what your budget was and did not want to bust it, but going with the Macy's prices for the pots you listed, if you really would like a matching fry pan and have the budget for it, the difference between a 9.5" saute and a 12" fry pan is much larger than a 10.5/13.5" saute pan and a 12' fry pan:
Mauviel 12" fry pan with steel handle $168
These 5 pots have much less overlap than the four pots you listed above, but does not have a steamer insert included. There are two diameters of pots and one additional diameter for the fry pan, so you would only need 2 lids (3 if you want one for the fry pan).
If you were willing to go with different brands for different pots, (or brands with less cachet but much better price/performance ratio) or consider disk bottom in general for your straight sided pots we could go hog wild and probably get the price down quite a bit...
The 12" covered fry pan is the one I use most (except for my 2 4-qt soup and saucepans). It is extremely good at searing and sauteing, it has a cover, and it cleans pretty easily. I love it. I also have a 13" French skillet (no cover), which I like, but one really doesn't need both, and I find the pan w/the cover to be the most useful.
Not getting a set is a great idea. It also lets you buy pieces slowly, so that you can see what you like or don't like before buying lots of pieces of cookware from a manufacturer / line. A saucier (sauciére) or a Windsor saucepan (fait-tout) might also be pans to consider. Both will work well for sauces and reductions, as well as risotto, and you can use the saucier as a sauté pan too.
Aside from one or both of those, I would suggest getting skillets and sauté pans first. If you can afford it, a 12 qt stockpot is really nice to have, but I wouldn't necessarily spend the money for All-Clad here - even if you want tri-ply, Tramontina or Vollrath Tribute will be more than adequate and quite a bit cheaper, and a disk bottom stainless pot would also work well.
I think it's useful to have different sizes of saucepan - I would get a 1 qt saucepan, a 2 qt Windsor saucepan or saucier, and a 3.5 or 4 qt saucepan (I use a ~ 6 qt saucepan quite often too).
I would not spend the money for copper core, but do check out the D5 series -- I have one D5 saucepan, and it does seem to have better heat distribution and efficiency than standard All-Clad. Or, seek out places that are closing out the older version of the standard All-Clad line - there are some really good deals out there right now on the older tri-ply line, and also on the MC2 line (aluminum exterior).
I think the "French" skillet has a different shape - the bottom has a bit more surface area, goes to a curve, and then straight up, with no rolled edge . The standard skillet has more of a sloping side, with a rolled edge. If you look at pictures of them carefully, the difference should be easy to see. If you have a chance, feel them both in person and see which you prefer.
I have the 3-qt sauté pan. I like it and it's suitable for two people. The 4-qt is the same diameter and a little deeper. The 6-qt is a larger diameter. The sauté pan, in whatever size you prefer, is a piece worth the price, in my opinion. But the All-clad piece I use the most and love is my 1-qt saucier. This is where the even heat of a quality multi-ply pan really counts. The next one I want is the 3.5 qt saucepan with the extra loop handle. I wish it were a little larger, though. I don't want the smaller saucepans or skillets.
My pans are the MC2 line. These are the best value for someone who doesn't care about the look of the outside.
I also have the small braiser with the copper layer. This was an extravagance, but I got it on sale and thought it would be nice to put on a table.
Lobster? An All-clad pot big enough for a lobster would be pretty darn expensive, I would think. I doubt an 8-quart would do it.
In another thread somwhere is a complaint about the difficulty of cleaning an All-clad stockpot after cooking a crab in it. This is not the way to do it, in my opinion. Nothing works any better than an inexpensive Granite Ware pot for boiling a crab or lobster.
True, but I wasn't referring to All Clad specifically, I was referring to the usefullness of the 8 qt size. I do have the 8 qt All Clad, as well as the 12 qt, and have never had a problem with cleaning any seafood. A good scrub with a Doobie and then a bit of Bar Keepers Friend if there's any discoloration that may be bothersome. No prob.
A large stock pot is nice to have if you make soup and such. It's not much more work to make a large batch as a small batch. I'm not looking to get an All-clad stock pot, however. We have a stainless stock pot with an aluminum base, so there is no reason to get another. The All-clad wouldn't do the job any better, in my opinion. Even if I didn't have a stock pot and needed one, I'm not sure I would get the All-clad because of the cost. If it's going to be sitting out in view all the time and you want it to match, and if you have the money, then go ahead and get it.
Also a consideration is the size of your oven. I wanted a multi-clad 6 qt saute for a larger cooking surface that I can then finish in the oven - without dealing with the long handle. I found, and really like, the Cuisinart Multi-Clad Pro pan. If you do a search on Amazon, this is it:
Cuisinart MultiClad Pro Triple Ply Stainless Casserole with Lid 5.5 quart
It cleans up easily and heats very well. No problem with trying to fit a long handle in the oven too!
"Would all-clad pans be best for searing and making sauces?"
I don't know about "best", but triply cookware are always good safe choice for searing and making sauce. Triply cookware can take on high heat for searing, and it is non reactive, so it is easy to make sauce in it including deglazing.
In contrast, a cast iron/carbon steel skillet can take on very high heat, but not so great for making sauce. Enameled cast iron (like le creuset) is good for making sauce, but probably not so good for high temperature searing.