Pots and Pans

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I love cast iron, but that's me. It takes some specialized care and it's incredibly heavy so it's not for everyone. It conducts heat slowly, so takes a few minutes to heat through, but it holds heat forever, so you can cook with a much lower flame on the stove top. It also produces amazing crusts on baked goods and sears meat like a champ because you can get it really really hot. It will never warp and can go from the stove to the oven. So the drawbacks of it are balanced out by all the good things I need it for. I have a 10" skillet, a 14" skillet, a pizza pan/griddle/bread baker, a 6" saute pan, and a specialized corn pone pan that makes 8 wedges of cornbread or scones. I also have 2 Le Creuset enameled cast iron lidded casseroles - one 4 quart round and one 7 or 8 quart oval.

I have two ceramic casserole pans which are nearing the end of their life - the glaze is wearing through - so I have to think about replacing them or not. They are the right thing for fruit crisps and cobblers and they work okay for roasting meat and fowl. I love my 4 white ceramic quart-sized ramekins with the blue rims. They are perfect for baking a cup custard or casseroling a chicken breast in sauce or baking a gratin of vegetables or putting a dip together.

8 years ago when I moved to Seattle with pretty much nothing, I bought a set of stainless steel Revereware - stainless is easy to care for, but notoriously bad at heat conduction, so most of it has a heavy bottom that's a layer of copper coated with another layer of stainless. Supposedly the copper helps to both distribute the heat evenly and retain it some. The main problem is when you put disparate metals together like that, they don't like to stay together necessarily. They contract and expand at different rates and if you do stuff like blast them on high heat will separate and develop hot spots and warp and such. And, if you blast them on high enough heat, the copper will melt and run out (this is very very high heat, but can be done if you are either patient or forgetful). But regardless, I have the original set: small saucepan with a steamer insert and lid, large saucepan with a lid, 12" skillet with a lid that fits on the 6 quart dutch oven. I also kept a large saucepan with a steamer insert that Mr. Jaq had because it is useful. And I've got a nice big stainless stock pot with a colander insert, a steamer insert, and a lid. It is great for ever so many things.

I don't like non-stick finishes and have gotten rid of all the pans Mr. Jaq showed up with - lightweight, warped, thin, and flaking with brown bits of scratched PTFE. We've kept a single non-stick coated 6" saute pan, for Mr. Jaq to cook eggs in.

I didn't realize I had so much to say about my pots and pans. Well, I'll admit it - I miss them when I'm traveling, and I've been traveling a lot lately. Also, this wine is really really nice.

Jaq, Sunday, 15 April 2007 04:34 (fifteen years ago) link

Just like you, I don't like the non-stick pots 'n' pans. I used to have'em (and nothing else) but ever since getting more into cooking, I have started to develop an interest in pots 'n' pans (and a dislike of non-stick cook/bakeware). That said, I'm not serious enough to buy expensive ones, also because my kitchen here (in the back of the shop, where I do most of the cooking) is just... a big fat NO (as in extremely tiny) so, I don't know, not a good excuse butu I don't feel like buying expensive stuff (yet). That said, I want to know more about the pros and cons of certain types so when I am ready, I want to buy the proper stuff.

I still have to use my Dutch ovenpot. :-( Maybe when I make stoverij (Flemish stew). :-)

nathalie, Sunday, 15 April 2007 07:33 (fifteen years ago) link

My very favorite thing about my cast iron pans (not the Le Creuset, but the Lodge ones) - they are CHEAP and will last for several lifetimes. There is a website somewhere, what was it called...., that had all kinds of info about different materials for pans. Cooking for Engineers? I'll go have a look, see if I can turn it up again.

Jaq, Sunday, 15 April 2007 18:27 (fifteen years ago) link

Ha! That was it: http://www.cookingforengineers.com/article.php?id=120&title=Common+Materials+of+Cookware

I didn't agree with some of it, from what I recall. But an overwhelming amount of technical detail is there.

Jaq, Sunday, 15 April 2007 18:29 (fifteen years ago) link

I have heavy-bottomed nonstick skillets in 3 sizes, one nonstick saucepan, and a nice set of stainless pots and pans. Also a cornbread-only cast iron skillet. I should get some more cast iron.

Rock Hardy, Sunday, 15 April 2007 19:16 (fifteen years ago) link

My dad and stepmom got a shitload of really good Calphalon Professional Nonstick II pots and pans and griddles and such when they got married in 2003, and I absolutely love to cook with them. They've also got a set of amazing J.A. Henckel knives (the good ones, not the value ones) and they are just so incredibly fun to cook with as well. I've had experience with cast iron only when making pork chops with Grandma one time and they were flawless, and I know they have their own niche, but I never realized people used them exclusively anymore.

Stevie D, Monday, 16 April 2007 06:24 (fifteen years ago) link

Urgh, I have some *black crusts* sticking on the metal pot. HOW DO I GET RID OF IT? :-( I made the mistake of heating it too fast, I think, cause now I did it on a lower heat and it's puurrrrfekt.

nathalie, Monday, 16 April 2007 11:56 (fifteen years ago) link

What kind of metal is it Nath? If it's stainless steel, have at it with steel wool and lots of elbow grease after soaking it overnight. Or find a can of Barkeeper's Friend and use that. I hope it's available over there; it's great stuff for stainless pans.

Jaq, Monday, 16 April 2007 13:38 (fifteen years ago) link

All my pans are cheapos from IKEA or Woolworth's. One of these days I'm going to splash out and it'll be so good! But for now, I have to put up with bits of teflon floating in my sauces.

Madchen, Tuesday, 17 April 2007 17:25 (fifteen years ago) link

I have been gawking at the expensive ones. The cookery shop reopened and I am so tempted to buy more more MORE. I will try at the grill pan I bought: grilling salmon. YUM.

Jaq, haven't tried it, but will do! It's alright though. I exaggerated a bit. :-)

nathalie, Wednesday, 18 April 2007 07:19 (fifteen years ago) link

Ikea have some pretty good stuff pan wise, especially in their 365+ range and they have some good cast iron both bare and enammeled in a le crueset style.

My battery is as follows:

Analon Pro Deep non-stick aluminium frying pan (Need replacing the non-stick is almost gone)
Noname cast iron ridges grill pan (best 3000 lire I ever spent)
Noname small cast iro skillet
Big orange Le Crueset Cocotte
IKEA 365+ pasta pan (good for making stock and steaming/boiling veg as well)
Italla Dahlstrom '98 20cm pan
Italla Dahlstrom '98 24cm sauté

Of these the cocotte, pasta pan, analon and the larger italla pan get the most use. They suit my style of cooking; stews, brazes, stroganoffs etc. the best. The italla ones are great stainless steel with a layer of aluminium sandwiched in for really good heat spreading.

Ed, Thursday, 19 April 2007 09:51 (fifteen years ago) link

Has anyone here tried the cast iron fake-Le-Creuset-looking things in IKEA? Any good?

ailsa, Friday, 20 April 2007 17:23 (fifteen years ago) link

My foodie father-in-law says spend the big bucks on the pans and go cheaper on the pots.

Hurting 2, Sunday, 22 April 2007 22:48 (fifteen years ago) link

That sounds about right.

Stevie D, Monday, 23 April 2007 11:16 (fifteen years ago) link

Ailsa, I had a look at the enameled cast-iron at IKEA this morning. They are certainly solid looking, but different from Le Creuset in that they are only enameled on the exteriors. The interiors are seasoned cast iron. There was a square cast iron pan about 2.5" deep and maybe 10"x10" that I wouldn't mind adding to my collection. It was only cast iron though, no enamel.

Jaq, Monday, 23 April 2007 22:42 (fifteen years ago) link

TK Maxx is the place for cheap Le Creuset in the UK.

Madchen, Thursday, 26 April 2007 13:13 (fifteen years ago) link

known as TJ Maxx in the US for some reason, but also great for cheap name-brand kitchen stuff.

Jaq, Thursday, 26 April 2007 15:05 (fifteen years ago) link

I was at a Le Creuset store in an outlet mall in Florida last month, but was afeared of the increased heaviness in my return luggage if I bought all I wanted to :-/

ailsa, Thursday, 26 April 2007 21:01 (fifteen years ago) link

oooh, there's a le creuset outlet shop in France near my parents caravan, must make the journey when we're out there in June.....

Vicky, Friday, 27 April 2007 11:25 (fifteen years ago) link

Oh yeah, all my Le Creuset has come from TJ Maxx, and some of my knives as well, I suspect (they were gifts). TJ's and Marshall's are the BEST for discounted brand-name kitchenware, they get Emille Henry too, and Calphalon, and others.

Laurel, Friday, 27 April 2007 23:14 (fifteen years ago) link

And Laguiole knives.

Madchen, Tuesday, 1 May 2007 11:57 (fifteen years ago) link

I got some of those knives! Both steak knives and cheese knives - I got them for their beautiful pearly handles (and v. cheap price), but the blades are surprisingly good.

Jaq, Tuesday, 1 May 2007 15:23 (fifteen years ago) link

fourteen years pass...

Can anyone tell me about carbon steel pans, and specifically Misen? I've been loving our cast irons, but my wife finds them too heavy (and they are admittedly unwieldy for certain functions). Supposedly a carbon steel is "the best of both worlds" but I've also heard the seasoning can be challenging.

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Sunday, 28 November 2021 02:23 (one year ago) link

it's kind of weird that the two materials are compared so frequently since the weight disparity means they respond very very differently. to me they're much closer to stainless with the theoretical benefit of a natural nonstick coating. nothing wrong with that.

idk why misen specifically would be important, these pans are pretty generic. i got the bk black steel from sur la table which is preseasoned and it's been just fine.

call all destroyer, Sunday, 28 November 2021 02:32 (one year ago) link

just bc they did a good job targeting me with ads I guess. It seems like the prices atm are pretty similar to the BK - they are doing a bundle of a 12" and a 10" for about $100.

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Sunday, 28 November 2021 02:37 (one year ago) link

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