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Dec 22, 2011 03:50 PM

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:

    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.

      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.

        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).

          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.