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Mar 25, 2014 03:29 PM

(General) Cookware Question..

hello all!

moving into my first place soon and will be responsible for cooking my own meals. I LOVE to eat, so i love to cook. I am far from a professional chef, and I usually just cook for myself as I'm not really one for entertaining. Ive been doing endless research on what type/brand cookware to invest in. I realize that with cookware, as with mostly everything in life, everyone has a different experience and someone's trash can be another person's treasure. I grew up on a good ol' set of Revere copper bottom pots & pans.. these are the pans I learned to cook on, and they are the ones we still use in my house to this day. They've lasted decades (with signs of wear of course) and I love them, but I want to broaden my horizons.

I researched that probably the best cookware material for me would be hard anodized aluminum. I was going to buy a set, but then i realized that no cooking method requires the same material pot/pan as the next, so getting an entire set of the same material might not be feasible. So i ended up just looking for the best bargain. So as far as brands go.. I did buy a 7-piece Cuisinart stainless set, I got it on sale from Gilt for $60 after some discounts were applied. I figured even if it turns out to be not the best stuff, i only paid $60 for a 7 piece set from a decent brand and its better than spending $60 on a cheapy Target set so what the heck. Going forward. I'd rather not get anymore Cuisinart cookware as I've read horrible reviews about rusting - as well as seen it first hand on the handles of a 4qt pot my mom purchased like a year ago. But i would probably buy another Cuisinart piece if the price was really good lol.. i love a good deal :-\
I also did get some hard anodized pieces - 2 Kitchen Aid skillets one covered one uncovered.

I HAVE NOT used any of these items yet, and I will not use them for about 2 more months. Does anyone have any experience with any of them, or anything similar?

Also, I still need a few more pieces:
1. a grill pan - i was going to get a cast iron one as i think cast iron is always a good thing to have, even tho it is super heavy, i can easily transfer thick meat from stove top to oven and the pan itself can take a beating.
2. an oven safe pan - i'm considering buying a Cuisinart hard anodized 12 inch glass covered one, because its on sale for $40. But I guess a comparable stainless steel one would be fine. My main concern is sticking & clean up.

I know all about the All-Clads and Demeyere Atlantises of the cookware world. I've seen some ok prices on All-Clad pieces but I've read that in the long run they're really no better or worse than something less expensive. Demeyere seems to be the Holy Grail of cookware, but I'm not spending $300 on one pan anytime soon. I even checked eBay for a deal on a Demeyere and they're still pretty expensive. I'm sure the quality matches the price but it is just too rich for my blood (for now). sorry for the super long post :(

any suggestions??

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  1. For searing, sautéing, frying and stove to oven carbon steel(99% iron) is a great option. It's lighter than cast iron and when seasoned properly it's super non stick. I have a set of cuisinart and never had a problem.

    6 Replies
      1. re: BellaLovesFood

        All my CS cookware is de Buyer mineral B.

        1. re: VeganVick

          looking into it! there's a really cute version with an Eiffel Tower handle!! (i'm a girly girl impressed by stupid details like that) so all de Buyer mineral B are oven safe?

      2. re: VeganVick

        I like carbon steel, too, but it's not quite as much of an all-purpose pan as stainless steel is. If the OP only wants one pan to go from stove to oven, clad stainless is, IMO, the way to go.

        1. re: DuffyH

          Agreed, especially if any de-glazing is done afterward. De-glazing removes de-mess!

          1. re: breadchick

            And can result in de-licious sauces, too. It's like Doublemint gum in a pan! :)

      3. The Cuisinart will server you fine to start out, don't worry about it or over think it.

        I assume you KA skillets are non-stick - I am not a fan but many are - treat them nice - no metal, no spray, no super high heat and they will serve you well

        Don't worry about Demeyer and All Clad right now - they are great but IMHO not THAT great - if you have a chance to get a pan at a great price or as a gift down the road take it but don't spend your hard earned money

        Not sure what pans you got in your set or need to infill - a few suggestions

        skip the grill pan - they are IMHO very frustrating and never do what you want - get a Cast Iron skillet instead, Lodge or vintage is even better no MIC it will do what you want from a grill pan and much more

        also for braising go with an enameled CI dutch oven - maybe 3 to 5 qts - Le Creuset is nice but the cheaper ones are OK too

        Don't worry about sticking so much - as you learn to use your pans you will find sticking is not really a problem.- also its nothing soaking cant fix ;)

        with some non stick, some stainless, a CI skillet and ECI Dutch oven you will have a good base - then add specialty as you need

        5 Replies
        1. re: JTPhilly

          thanks for the suggestions!

          i basically just thought of what i like to cook and got some stuff around that. i wanted the grill pan because my mom uses one at home and i love it for making shrimp. i have no idea what material it is.. its some cheap non stick thing lol.

          yes the KA is non stick, its hard anodized with a non stick coating and it was on sale. i only really like non stick for bacon.. bacon comes out just the way i like it on non stick cookware. on any other kind it comes out crispier in the middle. i hate that!

          i need an oven safe pan for salmon. i start the salmon on the stove top to get the skin crispy, then finish it in the oven. currently do this with the CI skillet but my puny little arms are not match for CI's heaviness, and I eat A LOT of salmon.

          1. re: BellaLovesFood

            A 10" carbon steel pan is perfect for salmon. The mid size in the pic is the 10"

            1. re: VeganVick

              i wanted a 12" pan i can use dually for stove to oven salmon, and stir frying veggies. i cant get down with a wok, so i use a large fry pan to stir fry.

            2. re: BellaLovesFood

              I have to take exception to JTPhilly's post, only as regards the grill pan and dutch oven. Many, many people love their grill pans, it's all a matter of preference.

              As for the DO, I've owned one, and really find I don't need one. It's all about what you cook. I think you're doing it right, to buy cookware based on what you cook, rather than what works for most people.

              If the cast iron is too heavy for you, carbon steel may not be the best answer, either. Generally, carbon steel pans have a steeper side slope than cast iron. So the weight advantage can be quickly overcome if you need a larger pan to cook the same food. Check the weight on some pans you're comfortable handling, then check the weight on the size of carbon steel pan you want. If it's similar, you're golden. :)

              1. re: DuffyH

                Second DuffyH's suggestion to buy cookware/bakeware/etc. based on what and how you will cook.

          2. For your grill pan, make sure it has deep grooves to ensure that food sears instead of steaming. For you, the Lodge should do the trick, either enameled or bare cast iron, depending on your preferences.

            As for your oven-safe frypan, I would suggest either a good tri-ply clad stainless pan, or, knowing that it's an unknown, a Zwilling/Henckels Spirit skillet. It's ceramic coating is supposed to be oven safe to 500ºF. I can vouch for it's evenness; it's the most even cooking pan I've ever used, and that includes Demeyere. Mine is a recent purchase, so I can't speak to how long it will hold up, but there are tricks that most people don't know about or use to make nonstick last much longer. The Zwilling Spirit comes in an uncoated version, too, so that's an excellent option and completely oven safe. It's an excellent pan.

            I also like Calphalon Tri-Ply for your oven safe pan. I used that stuff almost exclusively for 12+ years and had nothing but love from it.

            29 Replies
            1. re: DuffyH

              yes i believe the 1 i am looking at is the Lodge. i live by making shrimp and thinly sliced chicken breast on the grill pan (but the one we use now is cheapy cheapy my mom randomly bought 1 day..), so i figured getting a CI one i can get some nice grill marks on steak and thick chicken breasts then transfer to oven to finish it off, but still use it for making shrimp with ease.

              1. re: DuffyH

                can you suggest other good oven safe stainless pans? i was looking at a BergHoff 12" stainless copper clad pan, and an Analon Nouvelle copper stainless. Now i am looking at the Zwilling. I found the BergHoff on sale for $60.

                1. re: BellaLovesFood

                  There's a huge Berghoff store near me in Odessa, FL and I've seen a lot of their stuff. It's pretty nice, quality-wise. Some of it has funky design features that are very, very Euro, but it all seems to be well made and to work well, too.


                  I've taken a few cooking classes there and used some of it. IIRC, the copper clad is part of the EarthChef line, which along with the Hotel line, impressed me as good, solid stuff, well priced. The Anolon Nouvelle Copper gets pretty good reviews, so I doubt you'd go far wrong with it.

                  Since you like anodized aluminum, how about the Berghoff Montane pan? It's cast aluminum, with an enamel exterior and ceramic interior. I haven't done more than sauté chicken, finish it in the oven and cook a cream sauce in it, but it did it well. It's a good thickness, I think about 3mm.

                  I'm also partial to Vollrath Tribute, something I recently discovered. It's clad stainless, brushed, exceptionally thick (very much like Demeyere) and cooks beautifully. It's also, by some lights, ugly as sin. I've got a 2 qt saucier that I adore. As greygarious noted, a saucier can do many things very well. Vollrath isn't stove jewelry and will never win a beauty contest, but it's very rugged.

         (ignore the word "aluminum" in the description, this item number is the Tribute tri-ply clad line). It's also available with a silicone coated handle that's oven safe to 450º, but I'd choose the plain version for broiler use.

                  1. re: DuffyH

                    Duffy, you seem to know your stuff. would you mind suggesting to me the best pan of the bunch and thats just what i'll get? :)

                    i'd never heard of the Berghoff Montane before you mentioned it. i dont necessarily like AA, as i've never used it before so i have no idea how it actually performs, i just researched that it might be the best material for me to invest in (supposedly stronger than stainless steel, cooks evenly, rapid heating, affordable). I do like how it looks tho. The KA pans i ordered have a good weight to them, and i like that the handles are stainless, it gives a nice contrast to the dark body of the pan. I also believe I saw on the tag they are oven safe to a certain temperature..

                    All in all, i need a pan that will allow me to sear my salmon on the stove top, finish it in the oven, and also serve as a stir fryer. the reason i previously settled on the Berghoff Copper Clad was because i saw a video demonstration of it, and it looked pretty good, and because i found it on sale.

                    1. re: BellaLovesFood


                      Thanks for that, but I don't know if I "know my stuff". Like you, I do a lot of research, and have learned a lot from some very helpful Chowhounds.

                      Is your current stir fry skillet one of your Revereware pans? If so, you're in luck, because you're used to using stainless steel. For an all-around pan, that Berghoff you picked up should do the job just fine. I'm sure the copper is only for show and not thick enough to make a difference in performance, but it won't matter. The disk on those pans is already nice and thick, indicating a lot of aluminum, which will render some pretty even heating for your salmon and help with heat recovery for the stir fry. It also means your pan is less likely to warp when you subject it to higher heat.

                      I might suggest carbon steel, but worry about it's weight for you. I have an issue with weight too, and won't go larger than 9" carbon steel because of it. Honestly, overall, if it were me looking for the piece you want, I'd go with the stainless pan. Others will have different opinions and a lot have more stir fry experience than I do, but you asked, and that's my opinion.

                      Whatever pan you choose, I'm sure you'll be happy, because you've really done your homework. :)

                      1. re: DuffyH

                        If weight is a big issue then stainless might be the way to go. But I like the way cast iron and carbon steel keep the flavor in the food. My mom plans on buying a set of carbon steel but now that discussion has come up I will let her borrow my 10" pan for couple weeks to see if it's not too heavy

                        1. re: VeganVick

                          yes i just really hate having to bend down use both hands lift with my knees.. just to use 1 pan lol. i lack upper body strength :(

                          1. re: BellaLovesFood

                            <yes i just really hate having to bend down use both hands lift with my knees.. just to use 1 pan lol. i lack upper body strength :(>


                            I feel your pain! A recent back injury has me asking my Dude to pull out the heavier pans for me. We're arguing about a pot rack. I want one, he doesn't. Aging sucks! :(

                          2. re: VeganVick

                            I do agree that, at least as far as eggs go, they taste better coming from carbon steel. I also like the way it grills a sandwich. Still, they're not the pans I reach for when dinner rolls around. Then it's almost always stainless steel.

                            It could be habit, but I think a lot of it is that I love pan sauces, and can't think of any pan better for them.

                            I think it's a good idea to let your mother borrow your pan. I just turned 60, but have broken my wrists, and they're not nearly as strong as they used to be.

                            1. re: DuffyH

                              i think CS and CI will be something i consider getting further down the line if i feel i need it. i would love to get good marks on a steak tho. thats why i wanted an oven safe grill pan, but other posters are making me feel very shallow for wanting pretty grill marks on my meat :'( lol its making me feel like its just not necessary. but still, i was considering a used, Calphalon oven safe anodized aluminum one i found on eBay yesterday. $40 for it used, i think thats kinda high for a used pan even if it's like new...

                          3. re: DuffyH

                            yes I do use the Revereware to stir fry, so this is great i will stick with the Berghoff.

                            Carbon steel sounds very intriguing but i have no experience with it whatsoever. maybe i should head to a store and try one out.

                            i did want a CI pan of some sort, but honestly i'm thinking maybe i should just skip it. i feel like its good to have but the weight really does bother me, especially because i'd mostly be using it from stove top to oven.

                            1. re: BellaLovesFood

                              A lot of people swear by cast iron, and they certainly can't all be wrong, but in my experience, with the way I cook, I find I really don't use my cast iron very much.

                              I'm used to stainless steel, like you, and feel there's very little it won't do well. It sure hits my sweet spot for versatility, easy cleaning and durability.

                    2. re: DuffyH

                      I absolutely despise cleaning my cast iron grill pan, therefore I rarely use it.

                      1. re: Jerseygirl111

                        I'm with u on that one CI cleaning sucks. I plan to give my CI away soon.

                        1. re: VeganVick

                          it is the only CI pan that I find hard to clean - and all it does is put cute little marks on food - horrible pan I have 3 1 lodge and 2 LC enameled at least two of them need to find new homes

                          1. re: JTPhilly

                            When you are finished cooking in the grill pan, add some hot water to the hot pan, get out a chop stick and run it through the furrows of the pan. Cool a bit. Finish up with a scrub brush at the sink. Done! Chowhounder GH1618 mentioned the chopstick awhile back, it makes cleaning the grill pan easy.

                            1. re: Cam14

                              the chopstick idea is a good one - but its still 3 more steps than I would have with my regular CI skillets - which require only a wipe out and cook things better because they make full contact.

                              1. re: JTPhilly

                                <which require only a wipe out>

                                Except for the times things stick, or leave behind something crusty. Or when shallow frying, when near-boiling water is best to remove excess oil, or,... well, CI isn't magical, is all I'm saying.

                                1. re: DuffyH

                                  LOL agreed (although Demeyre's prices might have you believe so) But cast iron is far less magical when formed into a grill pan.

                                  I own 3 of them, raw lodge and 2 Le Creuset -

                                  I bought the small LC with much excitement thinking it would be awesome for "grilling" in the small apartment I had at the time - all it was good for was smoking up the apartment and making things stick. Because I lived with a vegetarian at the time who owned a very large and fancy batterie of Demeyere and LC this was my "meat" pan I used it a lot with much frustration.

                                  borrowed mom's Lodge (she doesn't want it back - now I know why) no better

                                  then found a larger LC at the thrift store - thought somehow the size of the small one was limiting (which is is) but that one stinks too - great for putting marks on "grilled" veggies but really terrible for making a steak or chop that actually benefits from full contact with the pan surface

                                  unlike other cast iron or ECI that is relatively easy to clean the valleys collect and burn any marinade and fat - are hard to deglaze for sauce and are ultimately a hindrance to cooking.

                                  Until the idea to use as a pannini press -from a CH post- which they seem perfect for I was ready to give up on the things altogether

                                  since I just chucked my spring-form pan for getting bent and leaking strawberry muck all over my oven (AGAIN) they are now back to #1st place as "most hated" pan in my batterie. They look cool and are great in concept but do not perform well IME.

                                  1. re: JTPhilly

                                    <LOL agreed (although Demeyre's prices might have you believe so)>

                                    Aw, Demeyere's not so bad....when compared to copper. ;)

                                    1. re: JTPhilly

                                      so what you're saying is, to get a nice sear on a steak i should just get a CI pan?

                                      1. re: BellaLovesFood

                                        perhaps I am too harsh on the grill pans - I do think a regular CI skillet is better all around stove top to oven tool - more of a multi tasker and more user friendly. not everyone loves cast iron though and if weight is an issue for you it may not be the best choice - although my vintage ones are quite thin walled and not much heavier than my SS but that is another can of worms

                                        If I was going to have one CI pan it would be a standard skillet

                                        Some people like their grill pans I am just not one of them there are so many ways from point A to B in the kitchen and so many different tools - you learn what works for you by using them.

                                        1. re: JTPhilly

                                          I have the best of all worlds - a plain 10" cast iron skillet and an All-Clad grill pan with non-stick coating. Works for me.

                                        2. re: BellaLovesFood

                                          Your stainless steel pans will sear a steak quite nicely. Restaurants use stainless steel and aluminum every day. Here's a good video, although I think the steak used is a little thin. But that's just me.

                                          Note that the cook isn't using high heat, more like medium. That's plenty to get the pan really hot. FWIW, I use the Leidenfrost effect to judge when my pan is ready for chicken, too. It's a very handy thing to learn. There are several videos on what it looks like. Basically, if the water scatters and evaporates, keep going. When it forms one or two balls that dance around, then it's ready. You only need a few drops once you learn what to look for.


                            2. re: Jerseygirl111

                              I'm not a fan of cleaning my Lodge cast iron grill pan either. NO soap. Maybe I should by a brush?

                              How do you clean yours?

                              I DO really like I didn't have to season it before using.

                              I'm also not fond of aluminum (cookie sheets) and non-stick cookware/bakeware. Can't go in the dishwasher.

                              1. re: financialdistrictresident

                                whats the problem with cleaning the Lodge grill pan?

                                1. re: BellaLovesFood

                                  Just finished cleaning it . . .no soap. I really need to buy a metal brush.

                                  It's a good, heavy pan. The grilled quail came out great. It's really good when you can't or don't want to use a grill.

                                  Another downside is if I wanted to deglaze the pan and make a sauce, not sure how I would have done that.

                                  Would have been easier in my Sitram pan (copper sandwiched between ?) that goes from stove top to oven/broiler or Le Creuset (enameled cast iron).

                                  1. re: financialdistrictresident

                                    <Would have been easier in my Sitram pan (copper sandwiched between ?) that goes from stove top to oven/broiler or Le Creuset (enameled cast iron).>

                                    Either of those pans would work well to roast the quail and make a pan sauce. I wouldn't think there is any easy way to grill something and also make a pan sauce. The two seem kind of mutually exclusive.

                                    I suppose you could do it in your grill pan, using maybe a silicone brush as your stirring/whisking device. Pour some liquid into the hot pan, quickly scrape the ridges, then stir it up a bit with your brush. I can't see any way to add aromatics or easily incorporate mustard or other ingredients into your sauce. The grill makes that problematic.

                              2. re: Jerseygirl111

                                "I'd rather be cooking than cleaning." Motto for Olvida nickel-plated cast iron.

                            3. Happy cooking, BellaLovesFood.

                              It depends what you cook. I'm not a big fan of "sets." This is what we use most often:

                              *Le Creuset dutch oven 5 qt & saucier (risotto, rice, sauces, soups, boil pasta, etc.). Bought at a Le Creuset outlet or when they were on sale.

                              *Winco NSF non-stick commercial fry pans (small and large) I bought in Chinatown.

                              *All Clad roasting pan (roast chicken, etc.).

                              *Large stainless steel pot (soups, pasta sauce, etc.). Don't remember the size but a whole chicken fits easily.

                              I hardly ever use my Lodge grill pan. I also have a Sitram pot and pan (can go from stove top to oven and I think even broiler). I have a large lobster pot that gets used once a year.

                              9 Replies
                              1. re: financialdistrictresident

                                thank you! it sounds like you have a family.

                                is the All Clad roaster worth the price?

                                1. re: BellaLovesFood

                                  Jacques Pepin roasts chicken in a naked cast iron frying pan. Of all pots and pans, heavy and expensive is LEAST important in a roasting pan. Most often, the poultry or meat is on a rack and not even touching the pan. I think a regular cast iron frying pan is better than a grill pan. The marks are purely aesthetic - I'd rather get an even sear over the entire piece of food.

                                  Experts don't recommend sets (unless they've got a promotional deal on sets with their names plastered on 'em). Sets invariably include *some* pieces that aren't popular and are of limited use.

                                  My most useful pot is a 4qt. saucier (a.k.a. chef's pan). That term is used for several shapes but the picture is what I mean. If I needed to, I could use it to fry eggs, make stock and soup, boil pasta, and braise short ribs.

                                  The other pieces I wouldn't want to do without are a non-stick slope-sided saute pan (which for some unknown reason is properly called a skillet, while a straight-sided frying pan is a saute pan, according to Cooks' Illustrated),
                                  an enameled Dutch oven, and the afore-mentioned cast iron frying pan. Plus a 9x13 baking pan, a heavy aluminum sheet pan, muffin pan, loaf pan, and tube pan (bundt or angel food). A large metal grid cooling rack that fits the sheet pan, and a V-rack for roasting. Buy a Tramontina 6qt or other economical enameled Dutch oven and treat it gently. You'll have it for decades at a fraction of the cost of LeCreuset and other chi-chi brands.

                                  As for finishing in the oven, the plastic-handled pans I have all say they are oven-safe to 350F, which will suffice for most things.

                                  1. re: greygarious

                                    thank you!

                                    ovens are temperamental. i do not know how well my new oven will perform so I'd feel safer with something that can withstand up to 450 or 500 F, just in the event that I have to turn the heat way up.

                                  2. re: BellaLovesFood

                                    If you finish gravies in the roaster on the top of the stove, then the heat distribution from All Clad is appreciated. Less chance of burny hotspots. Whether it is worth the price difference is only for you to answer.

                                    Bella, it seems to me that you have pretty well gotten it together. Open to advise, willing to make a decision, and keeping the option of refining your cookware as time goes by. Smart by my standards. As you gain more knowledge on the abilities of your cookware, and identify future needs as your skills improve, you will be able to buy with confidence. I am sure your invitations to dine will be highly sought by your friends and neighbors.

                                    Made any knife decisions yet???

                                    1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                                      I plan to get a Fujiwara Gyuto, i think its 8 or 9" and just under $100. I got a Cuisinart (which seems to be my favorite brand although I supposedly want to stay away from it) knife block set SOLELY for aesthetic purposes, and because it was on sale - got it for $49.99 marked down from $169.99. The knives have ruby red handles and the block is birch colored. I wanted something more feminine and appealing than harsh black handled knives and a dark block. Again this was only purchased for the aesthetic value - as they are stamped and probably would not last more than a few months if i relied on them solely for my cutlery needs. And I figured since I'm getting a "real" knife anyway I could just use the Cuisinarts for slicing a lemon in half, or some cucumber for a salad.. little insignificant jobs. The block also has steak knives which I feel will be sufficient for the time being.

                                    2. re: BellaLovesFood

                                      We just like to cook :)

                                      I wait for sales and go to outlets. Didn't buy everything all at once. Find I use the same few pieces and tools all the time.

                                      I have a small and large roaster. As INDIANRIVERFL posted, it can go right from the oven to the stove top to make your gravy in. That said, how often will you make gravy?

                                      James Beard said the most important kitchen tool is your hands.

                                    3. re: financialdistrictresident

                                      Does the Winco come from Win Restaurant Supply?

                                      1. re: JoeBabbitt

                                        JoeBabbitt, not sure. Bought it in Chinatown at a restaurant supply store.

                                        1. re: financialdistrictresident

                                          I bet it's Win - I'll have to go in there & browse some. I never really looked at at heir cookware.