Engaged = FINALLY, GET WHAT I WANT! But I can't decide, help us!
Thank you for taking a look! I know there have been plenty of threads touching on "our dilemma" (ie. this vs that) but not many recently, nor in regards to our circumstances! So here we go....
Newly engaged....crafting our registry! We enjoy cooking, and do it quite a bit. I often say, if I didn't go to medical school, I would have gone to culinary school. So we have been using less-than-ideal, cheap aluminum for years knowing the time would come when we could "splurge" on what we want/need when enagaged. Now, we can't decide!
We have always "dreamed" of owning a great All-Clad cookware set with Le Creuset iron pieces. Lately, we are intrigued by the Le Creuset Stainless Steel cookware (which has nice weight, great feeling handle), but somewhat "turned off" that it is made in China. Which brings us back to All-Clad...but which one? The newly designed 3-ply? The Williams Sonoma D5 5-ply? Or the Copper-core???
Not going to lie... Bourgeat and Mauviel sound amazing, but I don't trust us with full copper. Too much maintenance needed, and if it is not always beautifully polished, it will drive me crazy!
Also, any recommendations on sets? Go smaller set (7? / 9?) and add on more important pieces? Maybe do cheaper, smaller 3-ply set and add on some copper core pieces?
Thank you for your help! Opinions and personal experience greatly appreciated!
I have all clad pots going back to the early 1970s, have a couple of all clad non stick pans more recently acquired (prob about 10 years old and the non stick is still in good cond.) My newest one is the 3 qt saucier which I am in love with - the aesthetics of it are beautiful! They are all great pots even the ones that are 40 years old. I think whatever level of all clad you decide upon you will be happy.
I got a large le creuset dutch oven as a wedding gift 5 yrs ago. It's one of my favorite cookwares. The set of All Clad I received, i rarely use them because they are so heavy and I hate the long handle! (I hate storing them too!) I especially don't remember the last time I used the All Clad frying pans(I have both 12 inch and 10in)
I use Lodge skillet more than any cookware I own. It's so good!
I have some old hard anodized cookwares I had for years that I still use and love them.
There are many brands of high-quality stainless steel cookware other than All-Clad. For fully clad, you might also want to check out De Buyer Affinity, Mauviel M'Cook, and Viking V7. For a mix of fully clad and disk bottom, Demeyere. For disk bottom, Fissler. All made in Europe. All very nice. I don't mean to deprecate All-Clad, but there are a lot of other attractive choices out there.
Yes, it's more overwhelming and confusing than one would anticipate. And although copper is likely the best overall performer in this list, it's obviously not for everyone.
As far as sets go, it's less expensive to buy in sets, but only if you know you will use all the sizes of pots and pans. Otherwise, you are better served purchasing what you need as you develop your cooking skills. Also, the best brand (technology) for one cooking process may not be the best for another cooking process. I know, this adds to the confusion. I'm there with you, and I'm only looking at one pan.
You should compare these pieces side-by-side so you can feel how comfortable they are in your hands. Pay attention to the handle comfort and weight of the pans. IIRC the D5 and CC have the same handle which is still thicker and slightly bigger than the redesigned triply line.
The main difference is as you move up the lines is the weight. Weight translates to heat capacity the higher the better IMO. But make sure you are comfortable moving these pieces around and you can handle the weight. No sense in buying CC if they feel like cinder blocks to you.
I think the D5 strikes a good balance in weight and handle comfort. Not to mention price. The 5-ply is more warp resistant. I would go for a smaller set so it leaves your doors open to try copper and other things you might be curious about.
I've had great luck with the Tramontina set from Wal-Mart, and it has been reviewed as basically equivalent to AC by Cooks Illustrated... but if you are in the mood to splurge. I've always felt that copper's marginal improvement in heat transfer is very much outweighed by the enormous price premium that's attached to it. Maybe if you are aspiring to be a sauce boss..
I have a 5.5 round Le Creuset - its a core piece I use a lot. If you plan to cook for tons of people, maybe get the next size up, but 5.5 has worked 98% of the time for me.
A small set can make sense - gets you skillets and saucepans, and a big boiling pot. I'd think about whether you need a stockpot - basically, do you intend to make stock?
There are specialty pans I'd recommend as well that you don't need to spend a lot on - I like a nice cast iron skillet, a cast iron grill pan, and a non-stick pans for eggs and rice.