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What cooking vessel should be your best?

  • m

Besides the obvious, the one you use the most, which may not be where you spend your money for a quality pot or pan, where should you splurge? Sauté, sauce, saucier, frying, or some other pot or pan.

I like good tools, so I like good pots and pans and other cooking utensils.

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  1. One of these days I will own a 7 1/2 or 9 quart French oven as le Creuset. I would love one.

    1. Hi mikie,

      Saucier and frypan are where I splurge.

      Both need even heat, and by that I mean even spreading. A CI skillet is a fine thing (I prefer carbon steel) but a nice thick aluminum or clad steel pan (with a thick aluminum layer) is where it's at for building fond.

      Same with the saucier. Copper or a thick layer of aluminum for conductivity is key.

      BTW - my most used pan is a 3-quart sauté. I went for thick clad on that, too, but a really thick base would do it, too.


      1. Hi, mikie;

        I say sauté, or its 2-handled counterpart, the rondeau.


        4 Replies
        1. re: kaleokahu

          Hi Kaleo,
          I certainly spent the most time researching my sauté pan, and I think I did well with that purchase. We just picked up a Demeyere Atlantis saucier at the Zwilling outlet store. Since I want to use it to make a rue, and as I understand, they burn easily, I thought a high quality pan was in order as well. As we continue to replace old and somewhat disfigured cookware and as my daughter needs to replace just about all of her cookware, due to converting to induction, I was wondering what you guys/gals thought was important to spend more on

          1. re: mikie

            Hi mikie,

            Hard to see how you could improve on that Demeyere saucier. What sauté did you choose, and what were the attributes that led you to that particular pan?

            1. re: DuffyH

              Hi Duffy H

              After putting together a spreadsheet with the statistics for about two dozen sauté pans, I picked the Viking. This was based on the surface area, weight, construction, handle comfort, and a review in "Cooks Illustrated". The Demyere Atlantis with the disk bottom was just too heavy IMO. So far I've been very happy with the Viking (made by Demeyere).

              1. re: mikie

                Thanks mikie.

                A spreadhseet? Good idea. When I think about some of the waffling I've done over cookware lately, I want to smack myself for not thinking of it.

                I have difficulty with very thick-disk pans. I'm not sure if it's about the weight or the balance, so I get that.

        2. Le Creuset, or similar quality, dutch oven.
          Spendy, but heirloom quality.

          It took me years to add the 9-quart to my collection, but I'm so happy I did.

          1. My saucier is where I most appreciate having a good pan.

            1. Another vote for sauté pan. Mine was my first piece of heavy copper and I still am glad I chose it.

              1. My 1.5 cents: I think a good copper saucier is a great splurge if you make things like bernaise and want enough control as to avoid a double boiler or such contraptions. Otherwise, I tend to prefer sauté pans to frying pans, and indeed why not pan fry in a sauté pan? More real estate per width, really. I would like to try a big copper sauté, but I love my Demeyere 4.2 qt, w/ a 2mm copper layer. But it is a beast to lift and I'm not old or infirm. But on low flame, contents are boiling or sizzling right to the edges and it's harder to scorch stuff (for reasons I don't quite understand).

                As for saucepans, these seem just for heating stuff. Why go special there, unless you need speed? My saucier covers me there (and I have a bunch of lesser saucepans for whatevers - soups etc). Perhaps the saucier will evaporate stuff more, so then put a lid on it. I have a drawer full of lids - something will work!

                In any case, enjoy the hunt! I know you care, spreadsheets and all, the finding of the Vikings! So, have fun!

                1 Reply
                1. re: danlind3

                  Hi danlind3,

                  The Demeyere 4.2 was on my spreadsheet, and I was able to test drive, well, at least hold it empty. It's a hunk, and I'm not that old. I eventually decided the weight to real estate ratio was too high. So many of the pans on my spreadsheet I could only find online and eventually eliminated those for that reason. That's the down side of living far from a major metropolitan area.

                2. Rice cooker

                  So versatile, it's name borders on being a misnomer as rice is often the last thing I use it for.

                  1. Can't believe this has not been said.

                    Kunh Rikon 8 liter pressure cooker (stockpot style).
                    I could give up literally everything I have (besides my knives and cutting board) including my immersion circulators and still be a happy camper with my pressure cooker.

                    It is the be all, end all of cooking vessels. The cream of the crop, the best of the best.

                    Crazy useful. I use mine at least a few times a week. Being able to heat water past 100C is literally the greatest thing to happen in cooking since fire.

                    1. You're right about "the one you use the most" not necessarily being the one you spend the most on. My Main Pan for years – too many years! - was a five-qt. nonstick sauté pot with a glass lid that my late pa-in-law found at Bad Breath & Beyond for $27, and loved his so much he bought two more as Xmas presents for me and my sister-in-law. It finally went into the recycling bin, probably four or five years later than it should have, and now I'm following the advice of a chef friend who believes very firmly in buying the cheapest good nonstick you can find and replacing it after a year or so.

                      I have a lot of good cast iron, a lot of enamelled iron and a lot of tinned copper, all bought at bargain prices from yard or estate sales and antique malls; the most I've paid for any of them was $50 for an immensely heavy and large hemispherical copper bowl with a single loop handle, originally used by the famed omelet cooks of Mont St. Michel to whip their eggs in … and it's the only vessel in the kitchen I'll probably never use! The tinned copper gratin pans, though, are used constantly, enough so some will need another re-tinning, maybe as early as next year, and the two copper saucepans are used the same, though more gently.

                      1. To me, the pieces that best take advantage of thick conductive materials like copper or aluminum are the saucier (curved-sided saucepan) and the saute (vertical-walled pan with wide base).

                        The saucier is more likely to be affordable, because it's smaller: A 2-qt saucier covers most cooks' needs for roux-based sauces, custards, hollandaise, creme anglaise, melting chocolate, etc. A saute or rondeau is going to involve a lot more metal -- with a capacity of at least 3 quarts (9-9.5" base), and often 5-7 qts (11" or 12" base).

                        So the saucier is a more realistic splurge.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: ellabee

                          Based on your and others responses, I guess I've splurged on the right pieces and replaced the right pieces with higher quality cookware.

                          I just picked up a Demeyere Atlantis saucier, 2.1 qt. and about a year ago replaced the old sauté pan with one from Viking.

                          Thank you everyone for your thoughts, they have been very helpful.