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Minimal best quality cooking batterie

Hi all,
I've learnt a lot through these boards when I originally bought cookware in my student days - but this is the first time I am posting with a question as I now want to upgrade my cookware. I am an experienced cook with an eclectic taste in food. I cook a lot of fresh quick veges and meat in the summer, and soups, stews and braises in the winter, indian, asian food. We cook for 2 + baby with leftovers, regularly for upto 4 adults.

My constraints:
Open to investing a fair amount in high quality I would like the cookware to be versatile - multi use, possibly induction capable (though not sure where I stand on this)
Low maintenance - though we love to baby our kitchenware, with an infant and relatives who cook at our place while visiting and are rough and clueless on care, we would rather save the aggravation.
Prefer 2 looped handled pots both for storage and personal comfort

What I am keeping:
Griswold cast iron skillets
Large blue steel crepe pan for rotis, creYpes, etc
Pressure cooker
Le Creuset round dutch oven 7.25 qt
SS saucepan with pouring lip 1qt - for boiling water, chai, heating small quantities of food, etc

What I am getting for sure:
1. Demeyere Atlantis Conical Dutch oven 3.5qt . Debating whether to purchase the 5.1qt also. This is going to be my multi purpose pan for sautéing and also making curries (similar to the Indian kadhai)
2. Falk Try me saucier 1.5qt - my one copper indulgence for sauces. I know it breaks several of my constraints but I have coveted it for too long.

Under consideration:
1. Saucepans - Sambonet professionale sauce pot 2.5qt and 4.5qt
2. Rondeau - Sambonet professionale casserole - not sure of size for a good stovetop browning to oven braising pot
the reason I am considering sambonet over demeyere is that demeyere straight sided pots are not fully clad. Also I cannot find Demeyere's equivalent of the rondeau anywhere in the Atlantis line. Is it worth the price difference to the
3. Skillet for delicate fishes,other uses - Demeyere multifunction pan. Any leads on finding it in the US would be appreciate.
4. Cooking grains, oatmeal, couscous, etc - should I be considering a small Dutch oven, 3qt perhaps? This time I will go with Staub.
5. Should I be considering an enameled cast iron braisier, everyone who has it loves it? If so what size?

Please let me know your thoughts on the cookware choices. I am happy to spend the money but obviously wisely. Someday as we grow as a family and with more space I definitely going to expand into copper but for now need some workhorses that I don't have to cringe if they are abused inadvertently.
Thanks

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  1. What I am keeping:
    Griswold cast iron skillets

    I'm a Lodge man myself. Isn't good cast iron wonderful! When I lived in apartments with VERY BAD stoves, I learned to use cast iron. Otherwise I ended up with inedible food with parts burnt and other raw with a nice electric coil scorch mark in the pan.

    Large blue steel crepe pan for rotis, creYpes, etc

    I was slow to pick up one of these. I use it a lot. It works well for regular pancakes too!

    Pressure cooker

    I started with Kuhn Rikon but, now rely on my WMF Perfect Plus pressure cookers. I really like the Perfect Plus'es I now use!

    Le Creuset round dutch oven 7.25 qt

    As much as I love my Lodge cast iron, My Le Crueset has it's place.

    SS saucepan with pouring lip 1qt - for boiling water, chai, heating small quantities of food, etc

    Get a nice Kettle. I got a large Le Crueset for ~$40 and wonder why I waited so long. For food, even when I alone I find very little use for a such a small sauce pan. If I'm careful I can get buy with 1.5 quarts but, 2 quarts is really as small as I want. After all the smaller ones done cover the "small" burners on most stoves today.

    What I am getting for sure:
    1. Demeyere Atlantis Conical Dutch oven 3.5qt . Debating whether to purchase the 5.1qt also. This is going to be my multi purpose pan for sautéing and also making curries (similar to the Indian kadhai)

    3.5 quarts is fine for a single person or couple but, if your family is going to grow or you have guests over, the larger 5 quart model is going to be appreciated.

    2. Falk Try me saucier 1.5qt - my one copper indulgence for sauces. I know it breaks several of my constraints but I have coveted it for too long.

    “Scratch the itch”! Stainless lined copper has its place in any kitchen. A small “try me” piece is a good choice to start with.

    Under consideration:

    Sambonet professionale? This is a new brand for me. Le Crueset or Staub would be hard for me to turn down. They do appear to be cheaper for European consumers though. You may want to consider shopping in the used market if you are in Europe. “No name” pots and pans can be picked up at real bargains in Europe if you like to visit open air markets and shop on European Ebay.

    3. Skillet for delicate fishes,other uses - Demeyere multifunction pan. Any leads on finding it in the US would be appreciate.

    Why don't you buy one in Europe without VAT and have it shipped in? You may have some customs import duty but, without VAT you will most likely break even with shipping and customs versus VAT.

    4. Cooking grains, oatmeal, couscous, etc - should I be considering a small Dutch oven, 3qt perhaps? This time I will go with Staub.

    A small dutch oven or Tangine would serve you well. I got a Lodge 2 quart delivered for $20 which is hard to beat for this type use. For what you suggest, consider a Tangine.

    5. Should I be considering an enameled cast iron braisier, everyone who has it loves it? If so what size?

    Skip the aluminum models. Le Crueset and Staub would get my money today. The cheap imported Lodge equivalent is getting pretty good review overall when you factor in the cost (not as nice as the European imports but MUCH cheaper).

    4 Replies
    1. re: Sid Post

      <Skip the aluminum models>

      What is wrong with the aluminum Dutch Oven or aluminum braisier?

      1. re: Sid Post

        I love my cast iron and blue steel. Such a pleasure cooking with these pots, even made a convert out of DH.

        Could you elaborate on the size of your pressure cooker, as I will be replacing that later as well.

        Sambonet is manufactured by the same company as Paderno of Italy and I was attracted them due to the 7mm aluminium disc bottom and to the look, plus a full range of products available via 125west.

        Since I am on the US north east coast, I will take your advice on International shipping for the Demeyere multifunction pan as it seems versatile enough to be worth the cost and trouble.

        1. re: Curious_foodie

          I have the PerfectPlus 4 quart and 6.5 quart models. The smal one is great for a quick pot of beans for one or two. The larger one is really great for Collard Greens and smoked pork neck bones and larger cuts of meat and batches of stew.

          If I were going to buy only one, it would be the 6.5 quart model. You can always leave some extra "head room" in the big one but, slightly overfilling the small one creates a mess when it bubbles up through pressure relief.

          Ebay is your friend for Kuhn Rikon or WMF PefectPlus pressure cookers.

          1. re: Curious_foodie

            Hey curious_foodie,

            Just wondering if you ended up getting the Multifunction pan after all, and if it is as multifunction as they sell it to be. Any feedback would be great :)

            Thanks!

        2. <...indian, asian food>

          I recommend getting a real wok if you are interested in cooking East Asian foods. A frying pan can only get you so far. Either get a good quality carbon steel wok or a thin cast iron wok.

          <I would like the cookware to be versatile>

          Make sure you get cookware as different as possible and minimize the overlapping area.

          <the reason I am considering sambonet over demeyere is that demeyere straight sided pots are not fully clad.>

          Fully clad vs disc-bottom design is very personal. Just make you understand that a disc bottom demeyere is not necessary worse than a fully cladded cookware. There are advantages of disc bottom over full cladded design.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

            Thanks for your response Chemicalkinetics

            Re: fully clad vs disc bottom. I actually think the demeyere reasoning seems logical for their different pots, ie clad design for curved pots and disc for straight sided. Given their cost and that I cannot seem to find a rondeau style( with 2 looped handles) in demeyere, I looked for high quality disc bottom and came upon Sambonet - made by Paderno of Italy but with 7mm alumininium disc. I figured a little cost savings in sauce and rondeaux might not be so bad.

            Re: versatility, do you see obvious duplicates and do you have any suggestions for me with regards to style of pot, material and sizes to maximize my space?

            1. re: Curious_foodie

              <do you see obvious duplicates and do you have any suggestions for me with regards to style of pot, material and sizes to maximize my space?>

              Nothing specific and it depends on the person very much. For me, a 16" wok and a 10" fyring pan is a lot more versatile than a 10" frying pan and a 12" frying pan, but this is also because I do quiet a bit of stir frying too. For a person who does not stir fry, then two frying pans may be better.

              It would be nice to catergorize or prioritize your own cooking styles and your favor dishes, and based on these to see if you can get "different styles" of cookware as you deem fit.

              I know you are planning to get the Demeyere Atlantis Conical Dutch oven 3.5qt. If so, then you may not need a 3 qt Dutch Oven or the enameled cast iron braisier. Again, it really comes down to your own style. There is nothing wrong to have multiple Dutch Ovens of the same size -- if you are the person who prepare two dishes in them at the same time.

          2. Hi, serious_foodie:

            I'm sorry, what's minimal about any of this?

            Right now you have a single, 1Q saucepan, and yet you're adding at least two, maybe 3 conical pans. You don't have a stocker. You already have several skillets and you want more. And you want a new dutch oven to cook grains in.

            My advice is to get the *next-larger* Falk sauciere, your two saucepans, and a stockpot. If you can't stop there, get the rondeau. Then stop and cook for awhile, see what you really need.

            Aloha,
            Kaleo

            2 Replies
            1. re: kaleokahu

              Hi kaleokahu,

              Point taken. I have a serious problem when planning my cookware :) hence I turn to all of you far more experienced folk for advice and to help keep my actual purchases in check, my desires for them not so much. :D

              I forgot to mention that I do have a stockpot with pasta insert.

              Will reconsider the smaller Dutch oven as that seems to be suggested by several people.

              Thanks for your advice
              Curious

              1. re: Curious_foodie

                Hi, C_f:

                No problem. I suggest you simplify your search(es) by creating a priority list, and then pick off one pan at a time. It prolongs the pleasure, and increases the chance you will find a steal in the meantime. It also reduces the risk that you'll buy something you don't need.

                Aloha,
                Kaleo

            2. I read your title, and immediately started putting together a best minimal kit in my head; then I read your post. You want a 'minimal best' kit, but your proposals really achieve neither of these adjectives, I think. Please understand that I am not trying to give you a hard time here--my cookware is certainly neither minimal nor the best. But allow me to offer a few suggestions and then try to tailor them to suit your constraints:

              If I were to build a minimal best kit, it would include the following:

              1.5 Qt Windsor with Lid (Copper)
              3 Qt Saucier with Lid (Copper) (the idea here is that both of these stand in for saucepans, but have greater versatility.)
              5.5 or 7.25 Qt Casserole / Dutch Oven / French Oven (Copper or Cast Iron or Enameled Cast Iron)
              12 Qt Stock Pot with colander insert (Best --> copper, but realistically, for the value--> clad or disk bottom)
              11" Saute or Rondeau (Copper)
              12" Cast Iron Skilet
              10" Carbon Steel Frying Pan
              PLUS any specialty pans that you just have to have to do certain jobs right. For example, if you stir fry a lot, you could use that 10" carbon steel frying pan, but you really might want a 12" or 14" carbon steel wok for that job; if you make corn bread twice a week, maybe you should have a 10" cast iron; etc.

              This is 7 pots or pans (plus any necessary specialty pans) that can handle just about everything, and, IMHO, the materials I suggested provide you the best quality in each pan.

              Now, to your constraints: First, if you use pans that can rust, or are buying high-quality clad, you should realize that to some extent you will need to teach guests how to treat them, or put them away temporarily. Even your Griswolds and Blue steel pans can wind up in the dishwasher or getting other harsh treatment. So don't let this aspect steer you away from copper if it's what you really want. I prefer tin, but given your situation, the Falk stainless stuff sounds about right for you. Preferring two loop handles is easy to accommodate. Here is how I would then adjust my list for you:

              1.5 Qt Falk try-me Saucier with Lid (I put this in only because you really seem to want it. Honestly, you could just keep your current 1 Qt pan in its place.)
              3 Qt Falk Stew Pan with Lid (this is a two-loop handled saucier--I have it and love it. I do almost all my small-batch boiling in it; I steam in it; I reheat in it; I cook oatmeal in it; I poach and fry sausages in it, and all my risotto is made in it. It may be the perfect only pan if it came to it!)
              7.25 Qt LC French Oven (since you already have it.)
              Pressure Cooker (use it in place of a stock pot since you already have it, and I assume it is in the 10-15 Qt range. If it's not, get a 12 Qt Stock Pot.)
              11" Rondeau - (I'd get a saute, but you want 2 loop handles, so make it a Rondeau. Do not cheat yourself on this one. New 3mm thick, tin-lined, copper Rondeau with Lids (Williams Sonoma or Mauviel) show up on ebay several times a month and sell for less than $300. Go for it, and put it away when others come if you are concerned. Your guests can accomplish what they want in the 7.25 Qt French Oven.)
              Finally, keep your Griswolds and Blue Steel Crepe Pans for the cast iron skillet and carbon steel frying pan categories.

              This leaves you buying 3 pans. It is a fairly minimal setup, but, barring any specialty needs (Omelette pan, wok, etc), it will do just about anything you might need.

              I hope this helps,

              Jeremy

              3 Replies
              1. re: jljohn

                Hi Jeremy,

                Thanks for your detailed reply in addressing best and my constraints. You are right, so far I have worked hard to make sure my guests leave my precious cast iron and blue steel pans alone at cleaning time and steered away metal whisks from the ECI ( can you see us cringe). But with an infant my attention is often lacking to babysit my family in the kitchen. but you raise a good point when paying so much why should I compromise on true best.

                With regard to your recommendations for me,

                I think the "try me" was just a way to indulge my copper lust if I went SS but not needed given your next recommendation.
                Your second suggestion really helps me visualize the utility of the 3 qt Falk stew pans which I had definitely bookmarked. It would definitely fit all my needs.
                Thanks for the tip on finding the rondeau on eBay. I didn't realize mauviels came in 3mm unless ordered from France.

                Curious

                1. re: Curious_foodie

                  No problem at all. Hopefully someone will correct me if I am wrong, but every tin-lined Rondeau I have ever seen, made by Mauviel and marked "Mauviel" or "Williams Sonoma," has been 3mm.

                  1. re: jljohn

                    Hi, Jeremy:

                    With regard to *tin-lined* rondeaux in current production, I think you are right.

                    But Mauviel also makes bimetal rondeaux in 2.5 and 1.5mm, so folks should not assume all Mauviel pans of this shape are 3mm tinned. As for vintage pans, I'm not keen enough on Mauviel to make a categorical statement. The buyer should measure for him/herself or ask the seller to warrant the thickness.

                    The presence of planishing on W-S/Mauviel is an encouraging sign to look closer...

                    Aloha,
                    Kaleo