I've been considering buying one of these, and noticed that the pots are substantially cheaper than regular 12 quart stockpots from the same ranges (I'm looking at All-Clad and the Sur La Table own brand). Does anyone know what the difference is? I'm assuming weight or quality in some respect, but I couldn't really toss around stock pots to tell. I want to know if I'm likely to be disappointed.
For what it's worth, I'm looking at this for boiling pasta, making chicken stock, and some steaming--primarily vegetables. In terms of size and shape, one of these would be really ideal for us, and while I know many people dislike the pasta insert, I've hurt myself with boiling water more than once.
Personally, I don't really think clad stockpots are worth it, a good disc base is fine for me. So you find that the multipots from a reputable brand are cheaper than the regular 12 qt, I wouldn't worry.
I also dislike the pasta insert, I never would boil pasta in a 12 qt stockpot. I'm usually using a 2 or 3 qt, maybe a 4 qt if I'm doing a whole pound at once or I'm doing a long shape like spaghetti. You are less likely to burn yourself if you use less water and a smaller pot. (Unless you are cooking for a 8+ crowd regularly).
Assuming they're all the same, Williams-Sonoma says it's only cladded at the bottom (not cladded all the way up to the lip) and made in China.
This could be a good alternative to pasta insert.
I personally hate pasta inserts. I've read reviews of people getting hurt by boiling water because they either pulled the insert out too quickly or the holes being too small and water just splashed all over the place.......
Mostly, I don't love the multi-pots, though I do occasionally use the pasta insert. I have the All-Clad one and got it a long time ago. I probably wouldn't buy it again, but I haven't tossed the inserts either. I mostly just use tongs to drain long pasta, and a colander to drain small shaped pasta, but I guess the insert occasionally comes in handy if you want to do multiple batches of really small pasta. Personally, I rarely / never use the steamer, but I also have a bamboo steamer. Even though they're a bit gimmicky, at least they don't take up extra space, and, as you say, they can be an OK deal.
The All-Clad one is cheaper than other All-Clad products because it has a disk bottom; might be made overseas too, but not sure about that. You could look at the Tramontina one too, or just buy a heavy duty disk bottom stainless stockpot from a restaurant supply outfit, which should be quite a bit cheaper even than the ones you mention.
I don't have as much luck as the poster above cooking pasta in a 2-4 qt pot, but for a lb or less of pasta, I usually reach for a 6 qt saucepan or an 8 qt short stockpot before a 12 qt.
I really like my Cuisinart 12 qt multi pot. I bought it manly for stock. I use the pasta insert when making stock and then just lift out the bones and veggies when it's done cooking. Very convenient. I looked at the all-clad one but just couldn't justify the cost of the pentola 455 dollars and it's only 7 qt. Back when I was choosing one they had a 12 qt with the mesh insert and it had a lot of bad reviews, so I went with the Cuisinart instead. The new perforated 12 quart all clad looks nice.