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Minnesota-Minneapolis and St. Paul

XP: Pots/pans sent for your registry?

Is anyone registering for a new pots/pans set? FI & I got a few Target gift cards between the two of us for Christmas and I think we're going to pick out a new set now instead of adding a spendy item like that to the registry. The cookware we use now is a hodgepodge mix of things, some of which I've had since college, and they don't sit level on our flat top stove anymore.

I've read that the copper-bottom pots wouldn't be a good choice but beyond that I'm not sure what to go with. I really like stainless steel but am worried about how it will be to clean.

Thoughts?
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Re: XP: Pots/pans sent for your registry?

  • Hi.  I worked in kitchen stores for 6 years and here's my take.

    No matter which brand of pans you buy, I do NOT recommend getting all non stick.  You have to wash them by hand (no matter what the label tells you) and you can't use them above medium high heat or the teflon degrades into your food.  Not good.  The lifespan of a non stick pan is miniscule in comparison to a stainless pan.  I always recommend one non stick skillet for eggs, and fish, but don't go hog wild and get all of them that way.  You'll have to replace them all in a few years and you'll be upset with yourself.  It is also really tough to make a pan sauce with them because there are no browned bits sticking to the pan which is what gives those kinds of sauces their deep flavor.  

    The mark of a good pan is cladding.  That means there is a layer of aluminum (or copper) sandwiched between two layers of other materials. You can get annodized aluminum pans but they're not my fave because they'll eventually scratch and look awful and/or need to be replaced.  They've basically been dipped in acid to make the aluminum on the surface of the pan non reactive.  If you wear through that layer, then you've got raw aluminum coming in contact with your food which can make certain acidic foods (like tomato sauces) taste really bad.  

    Some cheaper pans try to convince you that they're good because they throw this really heavy aluminum disk at the bottom of the pan.  It is an inefficient way to cook because it heats from the bottom up only.  Clad pans have that layer of aluminum all the way through the bottom and up the sides so not only does the food cook from the bottom up, but it transfers through the pan itself and cooks from the sides in too.  You get a much more even heat on your food from a pan constructed that way versus one with the disk at the bottom.  Copper on the bottom only is the same sort of deal.

    My best recommendation for a budget friendly line is the Cuisinart All Pro line.  However, they pale in comparison to professional grade pans like All-Clad.  Yes, All-clad is expensive, but buying good pans now will mean you can use them for 20+ years without having to replace them.  You don't need a million pans.  I have 2 sauce pans (1.5 quart and a 4 quart), a dutch oven (think Spaghetti pot), a 12" skillet, a 3quart saute pan, and an 8" skillet.  Thats it.  (and I cook a LOT)
  • You have lots of good advice! 
     
    I was leaning against the copper bottom anyway because of what I read that it wasn't compatible with the flat top stove or something. 
     
    This is the stainless set I am looking at:
     
    http://www.target.com/p/kitchen-essentials-from-calphalon-12-piece-stainless-steel-cookware-set/-/A-10910384#prodSlot=medium_1_4
     
    I've also seen "tri-ply" - I get that it would be 3 layers of something, what are the pros/cons?
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
  • From what I can tell just by reading the description, that pan set seems like it should work well.  Just check to be sure the warranty covers handles popping off and such!  Also, make sure that they don't have the disk at the bottom like I mentioned.  It doesn't seem like they do but since I can't look at them in person, it pays to check!  Tri-ply is what you'd be getting with this.  It is stainless on the outside, then has a layer of aluminum (which is what actually conducts the heat - stainless steel really is a bad conductor of it), and the another layer of stainless on the inside.  

    Cleanup should be easy.  I've yet to have a mess in mine that couldn't be cleaned with a soak of hot soapy water or a little scrubbing with bar keeper's friend (either top or bottom shelf in the cleaning product aisle).  It is a scouring powder so it will leave small scuffs on your pan which is why it works so well - but be forewarned if you have a shiny surface on your pan, it'll not be so shiny after using it!
  • oh!  and I forgot to mention that my 8" non stick skillet came from Ikea.  I treated it well and cared for it how it was supposed to and it lasted 5 years.  Not bad for a cheap pan!  Don't spend a lot of money on one if you want to supplement your set since they just don't last for a long time.
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