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Jan 18, 2012 01:40 AM

Help! Most Useful Cookware

I've just ordered a few pieces of de Buyer Prima Matera, still waiting for delivery:

9.4" frypan
11" frypan
1.9 qt covered saucepan
3.5 qt covered saucepan

I bought these based on my cooking patterns and the availability of great pricing. I'd like to get a few more pieces, but I'd like to know what you all feel are the most useful types of cookware for my next pieces. I know that the stockpots aren't the best buys in copper because side walls don't need heat but use a lot of copper.

I know the type of cookware depends on what you cook. We are nearly vegan and never cook any meat (no, not even white meats). We most often sauté vegetables with tofu or soy protein or gluten, and we make a lot of soups.

Here's what I'm debating:

1.8 qt rounded sauté pan - we sauté a lot so very tempting, but no deals on this piece ($400)
3.5 qt covered stewpan - already have the 3.5 qt saucepan, and we do soups in 6-8 qt pots
6.3 qt covered stewpan - would be useful for daily use, no brainer
9.6 qt covered stewpan - useful less often for entertaining while much more money

We do have Anolon Nouvelle Copper Stainless Steel pieces available to fill our cooking niches (cheaper but high quality, lower maintenance, dishwasher safe):

8, 10" skillets (poor weight balance, no heat on sides due to disk bottom, but very even heat due to 4 mm copper disk)
1.25 & 2.5 qt covered saucepans
3 qt covered sauté
6.5, 8.25 qt covered stock pots

Please feel free to opine. Your help is appreciated.

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  1. Hi again, David:

    I don't recall what other cookware you already have, but I'd offer the following as general recommendations:

    A 5.5-quart Le Creuset French Oven for soups etc.
    A 10" nonstick frying pan for omelets (assuming you eat eggs)
    A couple of Lyonnaise-style carbon steel pans for quickly sauteing vegetables
    A paella pan might be nice
    A large rondeau (maybe 10 or 12 quarts or so) is handy sometimes (mashed potatoes)
    A large nonstick griddle for pancakes and grilled cheese sandwiches
    A pasta pot with pasta and steamer inserts

    Hope you find these suggestions useful.

    PS. After you get your cookware sorted out, how are you set for knives? There are some very helpful experts here at Chowhound who I'm sure would be happy to offer you some great advice.

    1 Reply
    1. re: tanuki soup

      Hi TS,

      Thanks for the suggestions. I will consider all of the hounds' input in the purchase of my next pieces.

      I think we have the Le Creuset dutch oven, but 3.5 qt. I know there was some debate on CH about the best material for a Dutch Oven, enameled cast iron vs. copper, but we'll see how this works out.

      As for the nonstick frying pan, a LOT of hounds use nonstick for eggs, and so do Julia Child and Jacques Pepin. I was trying to avoid nonstick cookware completely, and some Amazon reviewers are using SS for eggs, but it will come down to a fight between convenience and my degree of nonstick aversion. I'll keep an eye out for a couple of quality nonstick frying pans.

      I'm guessing a carbon steel Lyonnaise frying pan would be better than SS because it's less sticky? I do have a 16" carbon steel wok for stir-frying veggies, but that's not the same as sautéing.

      I just bought large nonstick All-Clad LTD Nonstick Griddle and Grill (two separate items) which I was going to return because they're nonstick. Do you think I should I keep these? They would only be for the old house; in our new house we have specced out a 60" Capital Culinarian range top with a 24" gas grill top. We do grill a lot of veggies.

      I definitely want the pasta pot w/ steamer/strainer, which I'll have to choose elsewhere (probably SS/aluminum bottom disk) as it is neither available in Nouvelle Copper nor in Prima Matera.

      As far as knives go, I don't even want to open up that can of worms here! I've seen some bloody battles on Chowhound over knife brands, materials, etc. It seems that's a particularly personal topic for a lot of chefs. There's a lot of technical talk used mostly to justify preferences/allegiances. Let's just say we're happy with our choice of knives that are very sharp and very tough.

    2. "the availability of great pricing"

      Me want to know!!!! :-)

      1 Reply
      1. re: cutipie721

        I don't know if this is kosher to post here, but there's a seller on eBay named "flightmates" who has the frypans, saucepans and stewpans at great (relatively speaking) prices. Still not cheap, but pretty great compared to full price!

      2. Hi, again, David:

        Looks like you made a good haul. How did you surmount the "DW-flailing-in-the-kitchen" hillock?

        I think a couple casseroles (marmits), straight-sided sautes/rondeaux, a roaster and/or gratins, and a couple fait touts would round you out. A wok would be nice, too. In all but the latter, IMO copper would be beneficial. And no cast iron skillet? And for God's sake, how can you do without a triple blini pan?

        I think it would be for the good of the order if you posted a price comparison--what you paid for each piece of PM on line vs. retail. A lot of people could benefit from seeing what is affordable in the resale market.


        5 Replies
        1. re: kaleokahu

          Haha I realized that my wife would be perfectly happy with the Nouvelle Copper SS set. She's not forbidden to use the PM, just doesn't HAVE to use them. :)

          As for the casseroles, I believe de Buyer calls them stew pans, and I am considering the 3.5 and 6.3 qt, though I don't know if the 3.5 adds anything over the 3.5 qt saucepan I got besides good looks. I am probably going to get the 6.3 for sure; what do you think about the utility of the 3.5?

          As for rondeaux, de Buyer seems to call them sauté pans. My eBay source doesn't carry them, so they'd be full retail ($569 for 3.2 qt; 5.1 qt not available online). Ouch. What do you think of a 6.3 or 9.6 qt stew pan in lieu of the rondeaux? The diameters are the same as the 3.2 and 5.1 qt rondeaux and thus should function similarly with the same level of fluid (at the same ratio of surface area to volume).

          What do you think of a curved sauteuse in lieu of the sauté and the fait tout? When cookware is this expensive, I'd like to double up on functionality if possible!

          As for woks, I got a carbon steel wok at ChemicalKinetics' advice. Have to season it tonight.

          I do have an enameled cast iron 3.5 qt Le Creuset French oven. But no honest to goodness bare cast iron (I'm opposed to eating my cookware no matter how nutritious), and definitely no triple blini.

          Here is the price comparison as requested. None of these are resale, all new from eBay seller "flightmates". All prices include free shipping:

          9.4" frypan: $229.99 vs. $359.99 (36% off)
          11" frypan: $259.99 vs. $399.99 (35% off)
          1.2 qt saucepan: $229.99 vs. $289 (20% off)
          1.9 qt saucepan: $279.99 vs. $359 (22% off)
          2.6 qt saucepan: $279.99 vs. $439 (36% off)
          3.5 qt saucepan: $309.99 vs. $499 (38% off)
          6.3 qt saucepan: $329.99 vs. $559 (41% off)
          3.5 qt stewpan: $399.99 vs. $569 (30% off)
          6.3 qt stewpan: $409.99 vs. $699 (41% off)
          9.6 qt stewpan: $599.99 vs. $799 (25% off)

          1. re: davidahn

            Hi, David:

            My, you're a fast-mover. You obviously have the "venture capital" to make these things happen right away (along with a kitchen remodel, if I remember right).

            If you already have a 3.5Q LC oven, I'd defer the 3.5 DB stew pan. Whatever the maker vernacular, I think you need a straight-, short-wall pan that most people would call a saute. You are spending $$$ for copper, and you might as well take greedy advantage of a big expanse of surface area. Your frying pans are great, but when you go to loading them, you will find that they are *dramatically* smaller than the similarly-sized saute or rondeau. Tell you what: buy 4 American-growth-hormone chicken breasts---oops, maybe 4 mondo eggplant slices--and see how they fit in your frypans.

            What are you planning to cook besides general vegetarian? A Windsor or Fait Tout can be pressed into service as a saute, albeit with "bungalow" floorspace. Where this shape (and the evasee) shines is in reductions, the evassee simply being better at accommodating the whisk to clean out the "corners".

            The triple blini was more of an esoteric joke, but it is usually rendered in carbon steel.

            Fear thee not about the barenaked CI feeding you anything unwanted. Frankly, at that level of concern (borderline), I'd be *more* worried over the nickel and chromium content of SS. But if you're vegetarian, it's not quite so niche-utilitarian to have the ubiquitous CI skillet. Frankly, I'm interested in how your new PM would work with the kind of high-heat searing that most people reserve for meat in bare CI.

            Thanks for the discount information. It is always a good reality check so that consumers can make approximations about what things really cost (your eBay seller is obviously turning a profit buying this PM stock, reselling and giving a 9% fig back to eBay/PayPal).

            I say cook for awhile with what you have ordered, make friends with it, see what it doesn't do that you need done. I don't think PM is going away anytime soon.


            1. re: kaleokahu

              Kaleo, I come from a family of fast movers, though I've been known to overanalyze most of the time. Just ask my wife! As I said, if I see value (or beauty) in it, I'd spend the coin.

              Yes, we are remodeling our kitchen. Our current kitchen has been neglected because our last remodel was inadequate (poor quality drawers & slides, lack of storage, tiny pantry, cramped), and it's been reflected in our cheap nonstick cookware. Our new house gives us the impetus to create a kitchen exactly the way we want since the previous owner removed everything down to the bare walls. We are outfitting the kitchen with all new appliances, cookware, dinnerware, flatware, to reflect the quality of the home and kitchen as well as the new home's modern architecture.

              I just opened up the Anolon Nouvelle Copper SS today, and I must say it's a beautiful set. It feels solid and very well built. It's got a mirror finish SS on the exteriors and brushed SS on the interiors. The weight balance is much better than I expected, so I'm guessing that besides the 4 mm of copper, there's more aluminum and less SS in the base than I suspected (and as it should be). The handles are very solid and comfortable, much better than the All-Clad stuff except the Copper Core line which I haven't examined. (I do have the CC wok, but I didn't open it because I was going to sell it new.) It's hard to believe you can get this level of quality with this much copper with a lifetime warranty for so little money! $225 after the 25% off for the very usable 10-piece set.

              As for the sauté pan, I can't find the larger 4.9L Prima Matera Sauté Pan (28 cm/4.9L 6241.28) online, and the 3.2 qt duplicates the 3.5 qt LC and 3 qt Nouvelle Copper pieces I already have (and there are no deals available on that one anyway).

              We cook mostly Asian vegan (veggies, tofu, vege-meats, soups), but also some Italian and Mexican, quite a bit of western breakfast foods (potatoes, eggs, etc.). We will probably lean toward larger sauté pans, as we cook for groups of 12-20 fairly regularly, and even when we cook just for ourselves, we make about 8 servings to eat, then pack leftovers for lunch.

              Still debating whether to return my LTD

              I feel like the conical sauté would be very useful, but I don't really read about anyone else who's using them. PM makes a 3.1 qt conical sauté that looks useful.

              LOL, I got that you were joking about the triple blini.

              The cast iron seems of limited use to me (corn bread?), and we will definitely not be the ones to tell you how the Prima Matera sears meat. Sorry!

              As for the discounts, it appears there's approximately a 100% markup, as everything is 20-40% off MSRP.

              At this point I'm so busy finishing the planning on the kitchen remodel that I'm not sure when I'll get around to cooking! I'll keep you posted. Thanks for all your help so far!


            2. re: davidahn

              Exactly... You'll find holes in your lineup once you start using your cookware. You don't want to end up with a lot of redundant pieces. Pieces of cookware you hardly or never use is a waste of money. When that could have been better invested in something you really needed.

              I was in your shoes about a year a go but nonstick is unavoidable. I've learned to cook eggs in SS. But things like Chinese pot stickers or oatmeal can only be cooked in nonstick.

              1. re: unprofessional_chef

                Thanks! I think I'll do that. I have plenty of pieces to play with for now.

                We have yet to try cooking on SS, but I'm very encouraged to hear you're doing eggs! I didn't really think about something as simple as oatmeal being a problem for SS! That means grits won't work in my beautiful Prima Matera sauce pans. Bummer!

                As for the pot stickers, have you tried frying them on low heat with the lid on and added water for steam? Works very well for us on nonstick, but we haven't tried it on SS yet.

                I will be shopping for quality nonstick frying pans for the hopefully rare occasions when we need them.

          2. I'm breaking down and getting some nonstick pieces. I'm leaning toward something cheaper because I hope to use these just for eggs. I've been looking at the Anolon Advanced Bronze line because 1) great quality for the price (great Amazon reviews, 25% off at online store), ; 2) anodized aluminum for even heat, 3) Autograph II nonstick, hopefully better than Teflon. Any other suggestions for a better choice in budget but quality nonstick? I'm trying to avoid bottom disk construction so I can have some heat up the sides and better weight balance.

            I've thought about it a bit and I'm getting the 10 & 12" open skillet set, the 8" open skillet, and the 12" covered ultimate pan, mainly for wontons which do well on nonstick with some steam (hence the cover). With their 25% discount (, coupon code "COPPER2"), I get all 4 pieces at $86.22 + S&H! That's the price of ONE All-Clad piece, and I heard their nonstick ain't too hot.

            I was tempted to get the 5.25 qt covered sauteuse in the same Advanced Bronze line but decided against because I'm trying to minimize the use of nonstick. When the time comes that I decide I need a bigger casserole, I'll probably get the Prima Matera 4.9L (5.1 qt) covered sauté pan, though for our large gathering cooking we might do better with a 6+ qt jobber.