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Dec 27, 2013 02:31 PM

Help Selecting a Few Cookware Pieces

I would like to purchase a few cookware pieces, but don't know exactly what to get. Our current cookware is old and needs replacement so I will be basically starting from scratch. The only piece we plan on keeping is a 10" non-stick pan.

I was looking at All-Clad SS, but have also considered Tramontina and Cuisinart MultiClad Pro. I was thinking of getting a couple of All-Clad SS pieces and maybe some from the other two manufacturers.

To help with suggestions here are foods we typically eat in our 3 person household:

Oatmeal (single serving); hard boiled eggs (4-6 eggs); thinly slice potatoes pan cooked in olive oil; turkey bacon (rarely)

Canned black beans (1-2 servings); canned soup (1-2 servings); frozen peas; steamed vegetables; sauteed vegetables (onions, bell peppers, etc); pan seared and cooked chicken, salmon, halibut with olive oil; boiled potatoes (for mash); rice (brown, brown basmati, brown jasmine); whole wheat pasta; pasta dish with shredded chicken (seared and cooked) and tomato sauce with squash, zucchini, eggplant simmered on low; pan seared chicken covered with tomato sauce and simmered on low; oven roasted whole chicken with onions, carrots, potatoes.

There are other dishes we make I'm sure, but these are the ones we make often.

The 10" non-stick pan I mentioned above is used for omelets, pancakes.

So far I was thinking of getting a 2 qt sauce pan and 12" frying pan. Not sure what else to get.

The slow simmered chicken pasta dish with squash, zucchini, eggplant that I mentioned is cooked in a saute pan, but I'm not sure if something else would be better.

Appreciate any help.

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  1. Three pans I use most are a nonstick for eggs, 3qt saucier (curved sided saucepan), and a cast iron skillet (

    1 Reply
    1. re: mwhitmore

      My lidded saucier is 4 qts but if I could have only one pan, that would be it. It is the best design for multi-tasking.

      I'd add a 6qt or larger Dutch oven to the OP's list. I also like my 8qt pasta pot, which I do not use for pasta. It is great for stockmaking, since you just lift out the perforated interior section and tilt so it drains back into the pot. No steamy splashing of hot liquid through a colander.

      I am resolutely NOT on the bandwagon that craves the elite brands. I was 50 before I bought a good quality nonstick, when I realized I was replacing cheap ones too often to be economical. Lodge or Tramontina cast iron will work just as well as LeCreuset, Staub, et. al. Just don't bang it around, and hand-wash it.

    2. If I got a Dutch oven would we use that for the slow simmered tomato sauce with squash, zucchini? I would get either the Tramontina or Lodge.

      What about boiling potatoes and pasta for 3 people? 4 qt sauce pan?

      I've read quite a few 'cookware essential lists' and just when I think I've got it down I get confused again, lol.

      I think the one piece I'm really unsure about is whether or not a saute pan is needed. Whenever we cook chicken, fish, turkey burgers we use a saute pan because that's what we have. Most of the 'essential' lists I've seen have a 12" frying pan so I thought get one and use that for chicken and fish.

      7 Replies
      1. re: GoodEatsSF

        For enameled dutch ovens, I would suggest staying away from made in China. They have a reputation for chipping, and you never know what could be in the enamel itself, which is glass and often contains cadmium and lead. If you don't want to spend top dollar on LC/Staub (which I would recommend since cheaper pieces may perform the same, but last less than half as long), go for some cheaper French brands such as Fontignac or Chasseur. These are still made in France and are cheaper than the top brands.

        I have never had a saute pan myself, and don't really feel any need for one. I prefer skillets. A good carbon steel skillet is an absolute must in my opinion, and they are cheap. Look at De Buyer's Carbone Plus line, they're available at restaurant supply stores for low prices.

        For boiling potatoes and pasta, any cheap stainless saucepan with a big enough capacity will do. Something you don't care about and can just throw around on high heat without worrying if it discolours/warps etc...

        1. re: Sirrith

          Costco has a very nice Made in France, (I believe made for them by the company that makes Staub,) 6.5 qt. on special right now for $59.00 at our local Costco. I paid $79.00 a couple of months ago and thought it was a great bargain at that price. It seems very well made. I've found the 6.5 qt size to be super if you like some leftovers to freeze for later. Lots of floor space for browning and a great size for large batches of chili, slow simmered tomato sauce or a big pork shoulder.

        2. re: GoodEatsSF

          You need to be very specific about definitions. They vary from brand to brand. Some people/brands call a slope-sided pan a saute pan, some a skillet, some a frying pan. A straight-sided shallow pan holds more oil - and food - than a sloped one, but IMO the slope-sided pan is more practical since it's easier to flip the food, and contents/sauces can tend to scorch in the "corners" of a straight-sided pan. For your size family, a 12" diameter pan is a good idea IF your burners are large enough that the entire bottom, or almost all of it, is in direct contact with the heat source. You won't get efficient cooking with a pan that's too large for your burner.

          Again, a 3-4 qt saucier is very versatile. Pictured is the shape I mean. Again, the name can apply to more than one style.
          Can also be called a sauteuse or a chef's pan.

          1. re: greygarious

            greygarious, I was referring to the straight-sided shallow pan when I said saute pan. And slope-sided when I said frying pan.

            I think I want to get the All-Clad 12" frying pan from Cookware and More. Maybe the All-Clad 2 qt sauce pan as well, which I could use for oatmeal, canned soup, canned beans, maybe hard boiled eggs.

            For boiling potatoes and pasta a cheaper sauce pan would do. We've been using a 3 qt sauce pan and it's a bit small for spaghetti. Maybe a 4 qt sauce pan, which could also be used for steaming vegetables, with or without an insert.

            Is that red saucier you posted enameled? SS or cast iron? It could take the place of a Dutch oven maybe?

            1. re: GoodEatsSF

              I know nothing about the red saucier, it's just an image I googled. My own saucier is hard-anodized aluminum and can certainly be used as a Dutch oven and for spaghetti.

              I take it you don't use a microwave? I use very little canned foods that aren't ingredients in other dishes. When I want to heat contents of a can, I nuke them. I have a 2qt saucepan and haven't used it in decades. Oatmeal's a microwave item for me, as well. I steam fresh vegetables in the saucier, over a stock pot, or in the microwave, depending on the season of the year and warmth of the kitchen.

              1. re: greygarious

                Our microwave failed 2-3 years ago and we decided not to get another one. At first it seem liked more effort, more time to cook oatmeal, soup, black beans, heat water for tea on the stovetop, but I prefer the stovetop now. Don't miss the microwave at all. I wasn't keen on the idea of nuking my food to begin with.

          2. re: GoodEatsSF

            A sauté pan came with my set and I used to use it until I got a 12" frying pan. I find it more useful. When we had company and I was browning two pans full of pork chops, the frying pan did a better job than the saute, and I just don't pull the sauté out often unless we have a crowd. It's a nice pan, just not as helpful for the type of cooking we do. I do have a deep 4 qt saucier like Gregarious mentions that I use several times a week. It's deep, so helpful for sauce with pasta added, chicken and sauce, swiss steak, sausages with peppers or potatoes, large batches of risotto, reheating chicken soup and such. It has a flat base about the same as a 10" fry pan for browning.

          3. I think the choice of cookware is such a personal preference. I would go through all your current cookware and work out which ones work really well for the dishes you make and which ones don't.
            Think about times when you've been usIng a pan and you've wished it was bigger/non-stick/smaller/ovenproof/had double handles/taller/shallower etc and use this as your criteria for selecting new cookware.
            With the pieces of your in cookware that you find ideal, just replace it with better quality pieces with the same properties.

            1. This is a good article to read to understand how various metals used in cookware work.

              1 Reply
              1. re: wekick

                ...and here is Sam Kinsey's excellent treatment of understanding the materials and shapes:


              2. Several years ago I got tired of cooking with scratched up non-stick cookware. I began to acquire stainless steel tri-ply. My first purchase was a 12" Tramontina skillet and then I bought a 5 quart Tramontina sauté pan at Goodwill. We now have other sized skillets and sauce pans of various brands.

                If I was going to do it over again, I think I would buy a set of Tramontina SS Tri-ply. This set includes SS lids as well. I dislike glass lids on cookware.