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Saute Pan vs Essential Pan vs Simmer/Saute Pan

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I'm building up a cookware collection... I have started with two All Clad french skillets and a lodge cast iron skillet, which have all served me well. I am going to get some good sauce pans and a stock pot to replace older cheaper stuff I was given years ago, and I think I know what I want there.

The question I have is about the saute pan. These seem very popular in the cooking world in either a 3 or 4 quart size. However, they tend to run close to $300 for a 4 quart size. Are they really better than these "combination" pans:

http://www.williams-sonoma.com/produc...

http://www.williams-sonoma.com/produc...

http://www.williams-sonoma.com/produc...

http://www.williams-sonoma.com/produc...

http://www.crateandbarrel.com/all-cla...

They tend to go under the names of "essential pan," "weeknight pan," "chef's skillet," "simmer/saute pan," "saucier." They all tend to be priced $150-$200. All seem to have flat bottom with deep, large sloping sides and generally sacrifice bottom surface area compared to traditional saute pans.

As someone who is building a collection and who wants to improve cooking over time, should I go traditional or start with one of these hybrids?

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  1. Go to cookware and more's website and peruse their offerings.

    They sell cosmetically challenged All Clad at big discounts and more so during their sales.

    The defects are pretty minor. Plus cookware gets beaten up over time

    Mine are perfect performers 16 years later and look good too.

    1 Reply
    1. re: C. Hamster

      "Cosmetically challenged"

      ROFL :0

    2. IMO, the straight sided chef's pan is an essential. You can do so much with one of these. If you can't afford an All Clad, you can buy a Cuisinart, top of the line, and it should serve you well.

      When I had to buy new pans for my new induction cook top, I bought a Sitram Profiserie chef's or saute pan. It is not a tri ply. It doesn't even have the encapsulated bottom. What it does have is a thick aluminum disk bonded to the pan's bottom. It is very responsive. In fact, I love using the pan. It did not cost $300. I feel like I got an excellent pan at a reasonable price. The Sitrams are used in pro kitchens.

      5 Replies
      1. re: sueatmo

        Sue,

        Which pan is yours? IIRC, you have this one:
        http://www.amazon.com/Sitram-Profiser... although I'm not sure which size you have.

        Or is it this one: http://www.amazon.com/Sitram-Profiser...

        1. re: DuffyH

          The former, in the 3.3 qt size. Very versatile pan.

          1. re: sueatmo

            It looks versatile. Do you find the 9.5" width is about right for most things you do? CI (and others) prefer a larger base, but cooking for 2-3 I think a pan that big can be overkill sometimes.

            What are some of the uses you have for it?

            1. re: DuffyH

              I use it for everything I used to use my old chef's pan for. If I have to sautee anything that's the pan I use. I used this pan's big brother (a rondeau) for a big batch of chili. But if I was just making a small amount, then I'd use the smaller pan. However my pan is closer to 10" than 9". I think Sitram calls this a saute pan.

              I like the rounded bottomed pan. I might buy one of those one of these days.

              I hesitate recommending this pan too highly because most people on CH seem to want pricier multi clad. But honestly the pan is quite responsive in induction, I like it a lot. It is nicely balanced with a comfy, and long, handle. And it cleans up well in the dishwasher.

              1. re: sueatmo

                <responsive in induction ... Cleans up well in the dishwasher>

                That covers two of my "must" items. Well, three if we include " comfy, long handle", which we should.

                Seriously, Sitram is now high on my possibles list as I work to overcome my thing about disk bottom pans. Especially for straight-walled saucepans and sauté pans, it matters not at all for performance and only comes down to my personal lunacy.

                Bear with me, Sue, and thanks.

      2. A saute pan with its straight sides will, as you note, have the benefit of a larger bottom plus the high straight sides to keep the food in the pan when shaken. The sloped sides will mean less footprint plus a need for better technique to shake the contents as opposed to handling it with spatula, tongs, etc. Personally I find true saute pans and frypans much better for their specific intended uses than these slope sided "combination" pans. The combination pans are more like what I'd call a saucier, and, as you might guess, are great for reducing sauces. My first high quality pan was a saute pan, and it is still one of my most used pans, exceeded only by a fry pan and a medium saucepan. As you already have good skillets, I'd go with a true saute pan next, but that does not take into account what or how you like to cook.

        1. Hi, Adelphos:

          IMO, those radiused shoulders all defeat, to some extent, the biggest boon of a saute: floorspace. Why not just get a real saute? If you're building a collection, you'll prolly end up with a sauciere (or sauteuse bombee) anyway at some point.

          You already have 2 "French" skillets with radiused, flaring sides. Shake it up.

          If you are limiting yourself to these choices, the Thermoclad one's sides look steepest.

          Aloha,
          Kaleo

          1. A little more about a saucier, which is like a saute pan whose bottom curves up into the high vertical sides. The advantage of this design is that you can whisk and stir a sauce without any of it getting trapped and burnt in the "corner" of a conventional saucepan. Also, the large bottom area lets you reduce the sauce more quickly. I don't have a saucier myself and don't feel the need to get one. But if you do a lot of classical French cooking, you might like it.

            1 Reply
            1. re: John Francis

              I'd amend that to say that if you cook a lot of sauces, you might enjoy a saucier. I don't do any French cooking, but find one very useful. I cooked all my sauces in saucepans for many years. I picked up a very nice Calphalon Tri-Ply saucier at TJ Maxx for $30, thinking I might give it to my son. To my surprise, I love it and now consider it essential.

              It's easy to incorporate one into your cookware collection. Because it also works well as a saucepan, it can replace one of those.

            2. "I am going to get some good sauce pans..."

              In what sizes?

              The pans you have linked to look very similar to saucier shaped pans. I own a 3.5 quart one and it is indispensable. But it has also put my 3 quart saucepan out of business.

              My sauté pan (in a 4 quart size) gets used for completely different applications than the saucier does. That, too, is indispensable.

              I couldn't choose one over another so my personal recommendation is that if you're getting a 3qt saucepan, consider it in a saucier shape instead of traditional and go for a 4qt sauté pan in addition to it.

              1. I had the same dilema in the past year and a bit.

                the sloped sides of the fry pan and French skillet are marketed to encourage evaporation and allow for tossing, but my personal style doesn't really need those, so a saute would be fine for me, but it didn't really matter.

                what I did was measured the size of my front burners on my stove and looked for the size of pans to match, rather than pick and choose a shape and size.

                my main burner is 11.5" in diameter. perfect for the all-clad 6qt saute which has a 11.5" diameter bottom.

                my second burner is 8.5" in diameter. good for the 11" all-clad fry pan.

                i got my pieces on sale or with gift cards at WS, plus a few more at the twice annual All-Clad factory sales in PA.

                the other shapes are interesting (maybe a french skillet and essential pan one day), but I'm fine with what I have. the 6qt saute is the biggest possible size with the largest possible footprint. I don't need anything else.

                16 Replies
                1. re: filtered

                  I am impressed with your approach.

                  1. re: filtered

                    But dammit, filtered, it's ESSENTIAL! Says right there in the ad, and everyone says so. They wouldn't have named it that if everyone doesn't need it!

                    What's next? You expect us to believe you don't have a Weeknight Pan, either? ;)

                    Aloha,
                    Kaleo

                    1. re: kaleokahu

                      Weeknight and Essential pans are all well and good, both having their place in SOME people's kitchens. Still, you just can't beat the day-in, day-out utility of the Everyday pan. It's the one pan you'll find yourself reaching for, every day.

                      1. re: DuffyH

                        Hi, Duffy:

                        If it's an Everyday Pan, what are we to do in the evenings, on holidays and special occasions, or during fasts?

                        And must we take it along when we travel? See, a Weeknight Pan can stay at home over an extended weekend, but I wouldn't feel comfortable not using an Everyday...well,... every day. It'd be simply *wrong*, and I wouldn't do it!

                        It would make much more sense to have an "Every Month With an 'R' Pan", don't you think? Lots less commitment.

                        Aloha,
                        Kaleo

                        1. re: kaleokahu

                          And therin lies the reason I chose the Essential pan. I get to choose when it is essential.

                          1. re: kaleokahu

                            But...but... what will we use every day?

                            1. re: DuffyH

                              I've heard it's best to rotate use between a couple of pans, then they will last twice as long. ;)

                              1. re: DuffyH

                                Well, isn't it obvious? We use a *Chef's* Pan, because it makes us all chefs.

                                1. re: kaleokahu

                                  what if we want to be everymorning executive chefs?

                                  all-clad better get right on it right away :p

                                  1. re: kaleokahu

                                    You know, I do feel much more like a Chef when I use my Chef's Pan. The big-ass toque on my head helps with that.

                                    1. re: DuffyH

                                      Hi, Duffy:

                                      Mais NON! You miss the transformational nature of the Chef's Pan. By *definition*, if it is yours, you *are* a chef.

                                      You needn't resort to the cheap trappings, like a smock, tocque, school, apprenticeship(s), a restaurant, or any accomplishments. You may even dispense with blandishments such as your impression of Emeril shouting "Bam!" or Keller cudgeling his sous chef with a balloon whisk.

                                      I am in the process of legally changing my name to Michelin (I am that shape after all). My new chef's pans will be part of my "Three Star" line. Henceforth and forevermore, everyone who buys one instantly becomes... [drum roll...]

                                      ...a Michelin 3-star chef. Encroyable, I know, but quite true! Get 'em while they're hot.

                                      Aloha,
                                      Kaleo

                                      1. re: kaleokahu

                                        Good God, man! You're a F*ing genius! What a marketing ploy. How I wish I'd thought of it first.

                                        I bow before thee, for I am unworthy.

                                        May I have a pan, please? :)

                                        1. re: DuffyH

                                          Hi, Duffy:

                                          Flattery and adulation are always welcome.

                                          The price for the 3-star line will be... quite immodest, and purchasers must submit a financial statement. The 2-star line will be less dear, and the entry-level 1-star line will be merely exorbitant. Which one would you like?

                                          Aloha,
                                          Kaleo

                                          1. re: kaleokahu

                                            Say what? I already filmed the commercial, and now you want to renege on our deal? >:(

                            2. re: kaleokahu

                              Guess who just found the perfect companion to the Essential Pan? :)

                              http://www.amazon.com/Cuisipro-3-Qt-D...

                              With a special thank you to Chefwong and his thread. ;)

                              1. re: kaleokahu

                                Kaleo - hahahahaha - why doesn't this forum have a "like" button?!?!?!?!?!

                            3. I have an anodized aluminum Calphalon 5 qt sautee pan. It cost under $100. We use it at least 3 times a week (probably more), have had it for about 10 years, and it's holding up fine. I recently gave my son the 3qt Calphalon and he told me that it has become a workhorse in his kitchen.

                              Bottom line: Sure you can spend $300+ on a sautee pan but you can get a perfectly functional one for far less.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: masha

                                Calphalon replaced the warped 3 qt sautee pan I bought for $15 at a flea market. You can't go wrong with Calphalon.

                              2. It's called an Evasée or Chef’s Pan—an arched long-handled hybrid sauté pan/sauce pan/skillet with a flat bottom less broad than a sauté pan, with deep, deep sides that flare out from the bottom more gradually than a skillet and then rise to vertical at the rim like a sauce pan. This pan is designed to sauté, stir and toss veggies and small cuts of meats and fish with larger quantities of liquids, without spilling. The rim is flared for non-drip pouring. It is the ideal pan to start and finish pilafs, to construct and reduce sauces and to prepare products that require stirring or whisking, such a risotto, crème anglaise and cream puff dough (pate au choix) for your profiteroles. It also serves nicely as a wok. Size is specified in quarts (1 to 5), which indicates that it is closer in concept to it’s sauté and sauce pan brethren than to the skillet or wok.

                                Why buy one? Well, if you have always wanted to toss and flambé your cognac-finished steak sauce in a skillet over a raging gas fire like the line cook in the LeRoy Neiman painting—without having to call 911—this is the safer pan. If you are outfitting the kid’s kitchen, substitute a large evasée for a saucepan and wok. If a two-pan galley is the limit on the yacht, select a skillet and an evasée. Or, if you must get by with only one good pan in the Winnebago, go evasée!

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: GeezerGourmet

                                  Hi, GG:

                                  Not really a disagreement, but the term 'evasée' just means flared. A sauteuse evasée in the classic batterie has straight sides, as in a Windsor or a fait tout. But recently the term has come to include radius-sided pans, so it's a big and growing tent.

                                  I had to laugh at the name A-C gave to the last one of the OP's selections: the "Weeknight" Pan.

                                  Aloha,
                                  Kaleo