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What's the best thick-bottomed heavy pot?

We made a big batch of chili in a thin (aluminum) pan and of course it burned on the bottom. With all the different pots out there, what is the best heavy duty one for cooking without burning on bottom?

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  1. le creuset french/dutch ovens. hands down. it's a bit expensive but it will be the last pot you buy and last you a lifetime. It's also extremely versatile. I've roasted chicken, cooked chili and even baked corn bread in it.

    2 Replies
    1. re: jahn702

      A bit expensive? These are the most expensive in the world. There are many alternatives. Kitchen-aid for one makes some very nice ones.

      1. re: deveds2

        "These are the most expensive in the world."

        Not quite. I don't know what is THE most expensive, but this is certainly much closer to it than the Le Creuset:

        http://www.buycoppercookware.com/cass...

    2. "without burning on bottom"

      A thick disc bottom pot will reducing the burning by minimizing hot spots. Nevertheless, you can burn the chili if you are not careful because it is thick (viscous).

      When a pot bottom is too thin, it is easy to have hot spots. This means some parts of the pot will be at higher temperature than the rest, causing foods to burn near them. A pot with a thicker aluminum or copper will help.

      On the other hand, chili is a viscous liquid. This means the chili liquid does not easily convect or circulate.

      http://www.physics.arizona.edu/~thews...

      This causes the chili at the bottom to be much hotter and cause burning. You can have the most uniform heating surface, and you can still burn the chili at the bottom because it does not convect well. Therefore, it is important to stir.

      In short, a better pot can only help so much.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

        Too true, I use an LC pot but with one of these dooverlackies between the flame and the pot.

        http://www.simmermat.com/

        I have no attachment to the company but I have given a few as gifts.

        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

          During my years as an active mom, I had to stop using my pans on the stove for any sauce, soup or stew as they would frequently burn. I started putting everything in the oven where they are evenly heated from the top, sides and bottom and I could pull the rack out and stir or put the lid on and turn off the oven when the dish was thick enough. This works with even the thinnest pot. Great for spaghetti sauce and chili, but still needs a little stirring.

          Also, I use an asbestos heat protector disk and a heat diffuser under some dishes that need to steam on very low heat such as rice. I am looking for a good set of stainless just because I can't stand the non-stick anymore after seeing how it gradually wears off into the food.

          There are some good links in here, thanks.

        2. Chem has it right about the reasons for chili scorching, although I can't go into the physics of it. Lower heat and stirring are needed. I had an occasion to use a thin stainless steel kettle to make chili a while back at my father's Arizona winter home. I knew it was going to scorch on his electric coil stove so I flattened an aluminum pie tin and poked it with a lot of holes to use as a heat diffuser. If you want an inexpensive thick disc bottom kettle that I have found to be almost scorch free, the Ikea 365+ line is pretty good. The only time I had a scorching problem was when I had something on the stove, I do not recall what it was, and forgot about it. How it was able to not only scorch but burn while I was downstairs and nobody else noticed it is still something to which I do not have an answer. I thought the kettle was going to have to be tossed. A soaking and BKF cleaned it up as good as new (or nearly as good).

          http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/pro...

          1. A thick cast iron or heavy disc bottom pot or dutch oven will be a great help. As noted already, Chilli is viscous so you either need to stir it a lot or turn the heat down for a slow simmer and monitor the water content. As the chilli nears completion, take the lid off your pot and let the excess water boil off.

            1. Another vote for the Le Creuset French oven. It's not nonstick, though, so I stir it every 15-20 minutes when I'm making chili.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Jay F

                I have, and love, many LeCreuset pots and Dutch ovens. Staub too. Truth be known, when cooking tomato sauce or chili, I can get a little round burn circle on the bottom of all, now matter how low I set the burner.

                There are a couple of thick bottomed stainless steel lines that I think outperform these enameled cast iron pots for this particular use. The best I have is a Paderno Grand Gourmet (to be distnguished from PEI Paderno, which is a different company). This pot is perfect for these recipes, and there won't be any scorching. I also have some Demeyere Atlantis disk bottomed Dutch ovens, but the Paderno actually performs slightly better. The Paderno has a 5 mm disk bottom that you can see, and it is pure perfection in terms of avoiding scorching. Sambonet is 7 mm, but more expensive and not necessarily worth it, also works really well.

                1. re: RGC1982

                  +1 regarding LC burn circle. I have and adore many of them, but if you want to cook your chili stovetop, they are a little too good at retaining heat - you will find a ring of scorched chili on the bottom of the pot. The very best material would be heavy gauge copper (2.5 mm thickness.) I only own them with a stainless steel lining and have never had a problem with scorching in them. I find that they provide the perfect balance of heat retention and distribution so that the contents inside the pot simmer at a perfect temperature without the risk of burning. The downside to them is their cost and weight. I don't know how much chili you make at a time, but if you need a very large pot, the weight and cost of copper may not end up being the right choice for you.

                  1. re: RGC1982

                    I made chili today in an All-Clad saucepan. There weren't any hot spot issues: no thickening at the bottom of the pan the way it happens in LC. I stirred every 15 minutes.

                2. Hi, steakman:

                  I would look for a thick, disc-bottomed aluminum pan or small stockpot at a restaurant supply store. Unless you like to stir your chili *a lot* (or cook it in the oven), you will be disappointed, scorch-wise, with an ECI Dutch Oven.

                  If you cook on gas hobs, I encourage you to search out the cool stockers that have finned aluminum "heatsink" bottoms, made by Eneron and called "turbo" or something similarly lame. I don't have a link for you, but I saw them at a Bargreen-Ellingson resto supply store. Oh, here's a short video on them I found: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ociAew...

                  Mele Kalikimaka,
                  Kaleo

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: kaleokahu

                    Since Restauant supply is my department I will tel you MOST restaurant supplies will only stock a Winco brand or comparible S/S stockpot with disc bottom( not to bad for the $$$) Actually sell alot of them for xmas season. Optio cookware by Wearever/ vollrath are a little nicer disc bottom imports. Or Centurion by same mfg even nicer...

                    1. re: kaleokahu

                      saw the video. piss-a-roo-ni.
                      Those are for what again? I keep losing the thread (no pun). All aluminum; casserole or rondeaux? Copper?

                      Thanks,
                      Shaky finger Rob

                    2. There are many, none "best." Le Creuset pans,
                      mentioned by another poster, are fine, but they are
                      very heavy. Lighter, Stainless steel pans
                      with thick aluminum disc bottoms are sold by
                      many manufacturers (Tools of the trade
                      and Cuisinart are two) and have worked
                      well for me.

                      1. What quantity are you talking about? How well did you stir it? What stove? What was the burn pattern? What's the burner size compared to the pot size?

                        If it is an electric coil stove, and the burn pattern matches the coil, then yes, a pan with a thicker bottom should help. However if will just help distribute the burn pattern across the bottom if you don't stir enough, or leave the heat too high.

                        Restaurants don't normally used heavy Le Creuset pots for their stews. Look on DDD to see what they use. Somethings are done in a large aluminum sauce pan (much thicker than the run of the mill home pot), or a big stock pot. Hotel pans covered with foil in the oven also work great for long cooked stews and braised meat.

                        1. I have a lot of Le Creuset, but my Paderno disk bottom rondeax or my Sambonet rondeax, which are both stainless steel with extremely thick aluminum bottoms, are my choice for tomato sauces and things like chilis and stews, because they do not burn at the bottom. Enameled cast iron, even my precious LC and Staub, are no match for these pots. Maybe it's because they are both made in Italy, where cooking tomato sauce is a regular part of the kitchen routine. The really, really thick bottoms (5 mm and 7 mm, respectively), are much more suited to this task than any of the other expensive cookware I own.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: RGC1982

                            This is all I could find by Sambonet. Is one of the first two pieces your rondeau?

                            http://www.125west.com/c-129-sambonet...

                          2. I don't know if it's the "best" but I really like my simple lodge logic 6 or 7 quart dutch oven. It's very thick and heavy and can hold heat very well with a small flame under it, without scorching. I wish I discovered cast iron sooner. They are a blessing.

                            1. Like others have said, Le Creuset enameled cast iron. If you want stainless steel, Fissler pots with the Cookstar base are wonderful. They guarantee no hot spots and I've found it to be true.

                              1. I successfully use a cast aluminum pan by Berndes. It is lightweight but thick and I make excellent chili in it! http://tinyurl.com/cufoctk Berndes SignoCast Classic 7-Quart oven

                                This pan has a non stick surface and I get no reaction when I cook tomato.

                                As you can see, there are many possibilities. I think CK's thoughts about stirring are good. Chili is thick, and it can scorch. Make your chili again, and stir. Find a pot that would work for you, and keep going.

                                Its worth it to learn how to make really good chili.

                                7 Replies
                                1. re: sueatmo

                                  I have some frying pans with that nonstick cast aluminum construction. They have the best heat distribution of any of my pans.

                                  1. re: paulj

                                    I know nonstick cookware often get a bad reputation, but the nonstick construction has some really nice features. Most Teflon nonstick cookware are aluminum based, so they have good heat conduction. Although nonstick surface is criticized for its lack of ability to brown and caramelize food, but the flip of the coin also means it is more difficult to burn food in a nonstick pot.

                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                      And cast aluminum tends to be thicker.

                                      1. re: paulj

                                        I've been looking at Vollrath Wear Ever brand, with quite thick aluminum structures, and two kinds of aluminum.

                                        Oy. My head is still spinning from learning about copper.

                                      2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                        These Berndes pans are not Teflon. I don't understand how they are non stick, but I am able to get a nice sear on medium heat in my DO. The only disadvantage to it is that is so lightweight, it wants to slide around on my glass cooktop. It would never work on induction either. I can braise or make chili in mine.

                                        1. re: sueatmo

                                          Some Berndes aluminum pans are induction compatible, with a steel insert in the base.

                                          Some Berndes have a 'ceramic' coating, but I haven't been able to find any detailed info on that.

                                  2. The pot that minimizes scorching for me is a Dutch oven by Tramontina, in their Lyon line (a 100th anniversary line introduced in 2011 that was barely marketed here and might not be continued). It's 8mm sheet aluminum with nonstick coating. It works on induction as well as gas and radiant electric.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: ellabee

                                      Like some of the Berndes pans paulj mentions, the Tramontina Lyon pans have steel inserts in the base that makes them induction capable. The aluminum in the Lyon line is straight gauge rather than cast, though (more conductive because no 'pores' to slow heat transfer).

                                    2. I make my chile in le creuset dutch oven. I brown the meat, onions, pepers, etc on the stove top, and combine all ingredients and then put it in the oven. One hour 30 later, I have a nice pot of chile. I suppose I could do it all on the cooktop with a little stirring but ii you have the oven, why bother.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: dalewest

                                        I use my oven for simmer too quite a bit. I have a very low simmer on my range but the oven is an absolute guarantee you won't have scorching with chile or split pea soup or anything.

                                        1. re: dalewest

                                          >I make my chile in le creuset dutch oven. I brown the meat, onions, pepers, etc on the stove top, and combine all ingredients and then put it in the oven. One hour 30 later, I have a nice pot of chile. I suppose I could do it all on the cooktop with a little stirring but ii you have the oven, why bother.<

                                          Wow, I never thought about cooking my chili in the oven. The best thing about oven cooking is that you don't have to baby sit it. Next time I make a pot of chili, I am going to try putting it in the oven. I cook it in my large LC dutch oven and it works great on top of the stove. But I would still like to try the oven. Though I guess the oven would take more energy to cook that the stove top burner.

                                          1. re: dixiegal

                                            Not sure about how much energy it would take but my oven is pretty well insulated and a gas burner is not that efficient.

                                        2. I also like to simmer scorch prone items in the oven. Other than a few sauce pans that belonged to my mother I won't have a cooking vessel that can't go in the oven.

                                          My Lodge enameled dutch oven has been satisfactory so far.