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The under-appreciated rondeau


Fat Guy
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. . . . Very few home cooks actually sauté, and most of the things they would like to do are better executed in either a frypan, rondeau or large curved sauteuse evasée.  Notwithstanding this fact . . .

Without for a second impugning the very valuable "Understanding Stovetop Cookware" course, this is not a fact; it's an opinion. I suspect the conjecture about true sauteeing is correct (my opinion), but the rest is questionable. It depends on what one cooks and how one cooks it. The rim-to-bottom ratio of a frypan is inefficient for shallow frying (I'd also assert that a frypan is a better vessel for sauteeing than a saute pan, anyway); the sides of a rondeau (likewise most sautee evassees) are too high for easy turning of fried items. Saute pans come with lids; frypans don't. To each his own.

That would be why I said "or." I did not mean to imply that the totality of typical home uses of a sauté pan could be duplicated or exceeded by only one of a frypan, rondeau or large curved sauteuse evasée -- but rather that for most of the uses that typical home cooks might do in a sauté pan, they would be better served by choosing one among those three pans. Indeed, I think that if the typical home cook owns a frypan (which is a no-brainer -- everyone has one of these) and rondeau, there would be little need for a sauté pan. To wit: shallow frying is better done in a rondeau than a sauté pan and fried items that need manual turning are better done in a frypan than a sauté pan.

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Tonight I cooked in both rondeaus. In one I steamed asparagus using a basket steamer that happens to fit very nicely into the rondeau. In the other I pseudo stir fried garlic, ginger and spinach -- the rondeau just fits a bag of triple washed, though by the time it's done cooking the volume is of course way down. This was rounded out nicely by a purchased rotisserie chicken and a Balthazar baguette. But the point is that I used two pots, they were both rondeaus, and no others.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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shallow frying is better done in a rondeau than a sauté pan

Just curious about this. The main difference between the rondeau and the saute pan is the height of the sides. When frying, won't the high sides on the rondeau get in the way when you go to turn or remove food?

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shallow frying is better done in a rondeau than a sauté pan

Just curious about this. The main difference between the rondeau and the saute pan is the height of the sides. When frying, won't the high sides on the rondeau get in the way when you go to turn or remove food?

the intermediate height of the sides is such that it is still easy enough to get in and turn or remove food, while preventing much more grease splatter than a saute pan. this is especially beneficial when cooking items that only need to be turned one or a few times (i.e., pre-braise browning, pan-fried chicken, etc.)

 

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It depends on what you mean by "shallow frying." Frying in a small amount of hot fat somewhere between a film of fat and a quarter inch of hot fat is probably best done in a frypan. This way the food is easily turned, and the sloped sides help the food to crisp by facilitating the evaporation of steam. But this is just "frying" to most people. "Shallow frying" typically means somewhere between one and two inches of fat. It's "shallow" compared to "deep frying."

If you're frying in somewhere from a one to two inches of hot fat one of the main things you don't want is for the fat to boil over or splash over the sides of the pan. An eleven inch sauté pan would have sides that are around 2.75 inches tall. If you have one inch of fat in there, a 1.75 inch "collar" doesn't leave much room for error. On the other hand, an 11 inch rondeau would have sides at around 3.7 inches. That extra inch or so can make a big difference when it comes to safety, etc.

Edited by slkinsey (log)

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Tonight I cooked in both rondeaus. In one I steamed asparagus using a basket steamer that happens to fit very nicely into the rondeau. In the other I pseudo stir fried garlic, ginger and spinach -- the rondeau just fits a bag of triple washed, though by the time it's done cooking the volume is of course way down. This was rounded out nicely by a purchased rotisserie chicken and a Balthazar baguette. But the point is that I used two pots, they were both rondeaus, and no others.

A steamer basket works fine in a 3-1/2 quart saute pan, too (excepting All-Clad, which has silly lids). A similar pan accommodates a bag of spinach, and once the greens cook down, a chicken as well. I've done similar things many times. How is a rondeau superior?

shallow frying is better done in a rondeau than a sauté pan

Just curious about this. The main difference between the rondeau and the saute pan is the height of the sides. When frying, won't the high sides on the rondeau get in the way when you go to turn or remove food?

the intermediate height of the sides is such that it is still easy enough to get in and turn or remove food, while preventing much more grease splatter than a saute pan. this is especially beneficial when cooking items that only need to be turned one or a few times (i.e., pre-braise browning, pan-fried chicken, etc.)

The higher sides of a rondeau are definitively inferior to those of a saute pan. Easier is easier.

Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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If you're "shallow frying" (meaning frying in somewhere from a half-inch to two inches of hot fat) one of the main things you don't want is for the fat to boil over or splash over the sides of the pan.  An eleven inch sauté pan would have sides that are around 2.75 inches tall.  If you have one inch of fat in there, a 1.75 inch "collar" doesn't leave much room for error.  On the other hand, an 11 inch rondeau would have sides at around 3.7 inches.  That extra inch or so can make a big difference when it comes to safety, etc.

In what recipe does two inches of fat equate to shallow frying?

Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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Depends on the cook and what you're cooking, I suppose. There are plenty of "pan fried" chicken I've seen that comes at two inches up the side of the pan once you've got all the chicken in there.

But let's say that it's starts off as a half inch of fat and comes one inch up the side of the pan once you have the chicken in there. 1.75 inches is a pretty small margin of error before you have to start worrying about sloshing some of that oil over the edge.

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A steamer basket works fine in a 3-1/2 quart saute pan, too (excepting All-Clad, which has silly lids). A similar pan accommodates a bag of spinach

I have a 3-quart Calphalon saute pan. It is the same diameter as my rondeaus -- it even takes the same lids -- just with shorter sides and a single long handle instead of two loops. For me it does not accommodate a standard bag of raw washed spinach. In other words, if you empty the bag into that pan a bunch of it comes over the sides. Tried once, never again. It may be possible to bunch it precariously together so that it mostly stays in, but then when it's time to stir there can be troubles. Also in my experience the saute pan fits the steamer (of course, because it has the same diameter) but you can't steam very much stuff if you also want to put the lid on. Some things, like broccoli, when you steam them you need a lot of volume.

The saute pan is surely better for some instances of shallow frying. A few times over the past decade I've said, hey, you know what, the saute pan would be better for what I'm doing today. But it happens so rarely that I can't even remember the last instance. Most of the time I'm choosing between the rondeau and a skillet.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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shallow frying is better done in a rondeau than a sauté pan

Just curious about this. The main difference between the rondeau and the saute pan is the height of the sides. When frying, won't the high sides on the rondeau get in the way when you go to turn or remove food?

the intermediate height of the sides is such that it is still easy enough to get in and turn or remove food, while preventing much more grease splatter than a saute pan. this is especially beneficial when cooking items that only need to be turned one or a few times (i.e., pre-braise browning, pan-fried chicken, etc.)

The higher sides of a rondeau are definitively inferior to those of a saute pan. Easier is easier.

Well, that depends: to repurpose an earlier comment of yours, fact or opinion? It's easier to me to have to deal with an extra 2 inches of pan than to have to clean the stove. Even with a splatter screen, the stove gets messier with a shallower pan.

 

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I think the rondeau actually IS a popular pan. The name just isn't so popular. Most people who have one call it something else, if they call it anything at all.

Mine is an old calphalon ... 5qt with 4" or so sides. I don't remember what the company called it in the catalog. Nothing Frenchy sounding.

Is that the one with the heavy cover that can be used as a roaster or paella pan? My father has one of those, and it's a great pot. He used to use the cover for making deep dish pizzas.

Mine is just a plain pan with a thin aluminum lid. They might have called it a casserole, or something like that. It's from back in the day when they were 5mm thick and just said "commercial aluminum cookware co., toledo, oh" on the bottom.

Edited by paulraphael (log)

Notes from the underbelly

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shallow frying is better done in a rondeau than a sauté pan

Just curious about this. The main difference between the rondeau and the saute pan is the height of the sides. When frying, won't the high sides on the rondeau get in the way when you go to turn or remove food?

I think it depends on the manufacturer. Some make rondeaux with higher sides than their sauté pans; others define them as sauté pans with loop handles, and keep the heights the same. The American companies seem to make sauté pans with lower sides than the Europeans. Like, 1/5 to 1/4 the diameter of the pan instead of 1/3.

Edited by paulraphael (log)

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Depends on the cook and what you're cooking, I suppose.  There are plenty of "pan fried" chicken I've seen that comes at two inches up the side of the pan once you've got all the chicken in there.

But let's say that it's starts off as a half inch of fat and comes one inch up the side of the pan once you have the chicken in there.  1.75 inches is a pretty small margin of error before you have to start worrying about sloshing some of that oil over the edge.

If you're frying chicken in anything other than cast iron, you're being silly :cool: . In any case, frying chicken is, in part, about allowing moisture to dissipate, which a rondeau inhibits. There's no agitation involved in frying a chicken, so the necessary margin is minimal.

A steamer basket works fine in a 3-1/2 quart saute pan, too (excepting All-Clad, which has silly lids). A similar pan accommodates a bag of spinach

I have a 3-quart Calphalon saute pan. It is the same diameter as my rondeaus -- it even takes the same lids -- just with shorter sides and a single long handle instead of two loops. For me it does not accommodate a standard bag of raw washed spinach. In other words, if you empty the bag into that pan a bunch of it comes over the sides. Tried once, never again. It may be possible to bunch it precariously together so that it mostly stays in, but then when it's time to stir there can be troubles. Also in my experience the saute pan fits the steamer (of course, because it has the same diameter) but you can't steam very much stuff if you also want to put the lid on. Some things, like broccoli, when you steam them you need a lot of volume.

But a saute of spinach requires a lot of turning, no? What's the difference between lots of tossing and just adding the greens in portions?

I regularly steam a pound of broccoli in a basket in a 3-1/2 quart saute. With a domed lid, no problem.

shallow frying is better done in a rondeau than a sauté pan

Just curious about this. The main difference between the rondeau and the saute pan is the height of the sides. When frying, won't the high sides on the rondeau get in the way when you go to turn or remove food?

the intermediate height of the sides is such that it is still easy enough to get in and turn or remove food, while preventing much more grease splatter than a saute pan. this is especially beneficial when cooking items that only need to be turned one or a few times (i.e., pre-braise browning, pan-fried chicken, etc.)

The higher sides of a rondeau are definitively inferior to those of a saute pan. Easier is easier.

Well, that depends: to repurpose an earlier comment of yours, fact or opinion? It's easier to me to have to deal with an extra 2 inches of pan than to have to clean the stove. Even with a splatter screen, the stove gets messier with a shallower pan.

Do you want well-prepared food, or easy clean-up? Yes, the stove is a mess. But with a shallower pan, you're in more control of the cooking. Which matters more?

Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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Do you want well-prepared food, or easy clean-up? Yes, the stove is a mess. But with a shallower pan, you're in more control of the cooking. Which matters more?

Well-prepared food. In the end, this is of course a matter of personal preference, but what's in the pan ought to be paramount when deciding which pan it's going in. If delicacy akin to that needed for a fish fillet is required, use a pan that allows easiest access. I have no problem cooking more robust items in a rondeau without compromising their quality, and so I do.

 

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I'm only an occasional chicken fryer, maybe once a year. Then again I've had most of my current cookware for 10-15 years. So I've fried chicken in it a few times.

I'll say that the most enjoyable vessel for frying has been one I don't have: the Lodge cast-iron Dutch oven. This combines great heat retention with nice high sides (relative to a skillet or saute pan) for splatter control. When it comes to turning chicken pieces with a spoon or tongs the high sides are not a problem. A stockpot would present a problem here, but not the Dutch oven shape, which is basically the rondeau shape. Since I don't have a cast-iron Dutch oven, and don't fry chicken often enough to justify owning one, I use the rondeau or, more likely, both rondeaus.

There's nothing wrong with a saute pan or skillet for frying chicken. Indeed when I've needed to make it for a big crew I've used my 12" skillets because they accommodate more pieces than a 10" rondeau or saute pan. However there is more splatter when you use a skillet. Splatter gets worse as sides get lower. The rondeau seems to be a good compromise between splatter and access. If you extend the equation out to a stockpot it becomes so much harder to turn things that it's no longer useful as a frying vessel (though I have used a stockpot for French fries and done well with that).

On the spinach front, adding it in bunches because your pan is too small to accommodate it all is a good workaround but does require more attention than using a pan that holds the whole bag. If you use a big enough pan, you dump it all in, do something else, stir to bring the bottom to the top, work on something else, then stir a few times to finish. If you're adding bunch after bunch and stirring, you're less able to multitask. At least I am.

Two nights ago I made what was probably about 2.5 pounds of broccoli. I was able to do it in two batches in a rondeau, and would have needed three or possibly four batches with the saute pan. Last night I made a bunch of asparagus. I could have done that in either pan.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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If delicacy akin to that needed for a fish fillet is required, use a pan that allows easiest access.

Yes, for a fish fillet I would use something with the lowest possible sides, most likely a skillet. When I see them cook fish on the plancha in restaurant kitchens, I wish I had a large flat griddle at home, because with the plancha you can really approach from the side (assuming your turner's handle is at an angle). The next best thing is an oversize skillet. Then normal-size skillet. Then saute pan.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I think it depends on the manufacturer.

The nomenclature is all over the map. Sitram even makes a "rondeau casserole."

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I'm only an occasional chicken fryer, maybe once a year. Then again I've had most of my current cookware for 10-15 years. So I've fried chicken in it a few times.

I'll say that the most enjoyable vessel for frying has been one I don't have: the Lodge cast-iron Dutch oven. This combines great heat retention with nice high sides (relative to a skillet or saute pan) for splatter control. When it comes to turning chicken pieces with a spoon or tongs the high sides are not a problem. A stockpot would present a problem here, but not the Dutch oven shape, which is basically the rondeau shape. Since I don't have a cast-iron Dutch oven, and don't fry chicken often enough to justify owning one, I use the rondeau or, more likely, both rondeaus.

(snip)

I have a very old Griswold "chicken fryer" which is a deeper version of the frypan and it has a lid that is actually another skillet that has a flange that hooks into a cast loop opposite the long handle.

Scroll half-way down this page to see one next to a Wagner chicken fryer and its more domed lid/skillet.

The higher sides were ideal for frying in deeper fat than is safe in a regular skillet - southern fried chicken is usually fried in about an inch of fat.

Where I grew up, the preference was for lard but some people liked Crisco or Spry (Lever Bros. brand of vegetable shortening.)

They occasionally show up on ebay but often the skillet lid is not with the chicken fryer but if you come across one, at a reasonable price, it is worth it.

The physical proportions are very close to the desired size of a rondeau and the shorter handle will fit easily in a smaller oven (I have a half-sheet Cadco).

Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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I think it depends on the manufacturer.

The nomenclature is all over the map. Sitram even makes a "rondeau casserole."

Based on this I don't think it makes sense to debate rondeau vs. sauté pan based on the height of the sides. In many cases there's no difference. And I'm sure you could find some rondeaux with lower sides than some sauté pans.

The handles are the distinguishing difference.

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I think calling a very short or very tall pot a rondeau probably stretches the admittedly vague definition to the breaking point. I think "two handles and medium height" is a good working definition.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Right. I would say that the height of the sides is a distinguishing difference. A Rondeau should clock in with a ratio of diameter-to-sides somewhere between fairly short sides at 4:1 (sauté) and fairly tall sides at 2:1 (casserole). (Sitram's "rondeau casserole" is probably so named to distinguish it from straight-gauge implementations.)

It seems reasonable to say that a Le Creuset casserole is not a rondeau, and neither is a sauté pan with short handles instead of a long handle. What makes a real rondeau such a nice pan to have is that it's a "tweener." The sides should be short enough for browning meats and vegetables, etc. -- but also tall enough to use for poaching, braising, etc. The lack of a long handle means that it's not great for tasks where you need to shake the pan, but on the other hand it means that it is great when you want to put it in the oven or keep it out of the way on a back burner.

What I think of as "rondeau-ness" is that the sides have to be short enough in relation to the diameter that it has the overall appearance of a "wide pan" but not so short that one thinks of it as a "shallow pan."

Edited by slkinsey (log)

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A Rondeau should clock in with a ratio of diameter-to-sides somewhere between fairly short sides at 4:1 (sauté) and fairly tall sides at 2:1 (casserole).

The Mauviel and Bourgeat sauté pans are more like 3:1 ... just like their rondeaux.

Personally i prefer shorter sides on a sauté pan, but I can only seem to find them on pans i don't like.

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A Rondeau should clock in with a ratio of diameter-to-sides somewhere between fairly short sides at 4:1 (sauté) and fairly tall sides at 2:1 (casserole).

The Mauviel and Bourgeat sauté pans are more like 3:1 ... just like their rondeaux.

This does not appear to be the case.

Mauviel's 11 inch sauté pan has sides that are 3 inches tall. This makes them 27% as tall as the radius of the pan. So, a little bit more than 4:1, but reasonably chose.

Mauviel's 11 inch rondeau has sides that are 4 inches tall. This makes them 36% as tall as the radius of the pan. A bit more than 3:1, but reasonably close.

These are the same exact geometries that Falk Culinair uses, which I suppose isn't much of a surprise since both Mauviel's and Bourgeat's stainless-lined copper cookware are manufactured by Falk.

I can't find any measurements for Mauviel's casseroles, but Falk's 11 inch casserole has sides that are 5.4 inches tall. This makes them 49% as tall as the radius of the pan. A bit less than 2:1, but reasonably close.

Personally i prefer shorter sides on a sauté pan, but I can only seem to find them on pans i don't like.

Good luck getting sides that are any shorter than 25% to 27% the size of the diameter. The only pans I know with shorter straight sides than this are large cast iron skillets, which can have sides between 14% and 20% of the diameter (1.5 inches to 2.2 inches on an 11-inch pan). But I find this far too short for real sautéing.

Edited by slkinsey (log)

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The Mauviel and Bourgeat sauté pans are more like 3:1 ... just like their rondeaux.

Not exactly.

Mauviel makes an 11x2.9" saute pan and an 11x4" rondeau. These are the professional tin lined versions, which seem more or less unchanged since the 19th century except for the designs of the long handles and the lids. In stainless lined, the saute pan is 11x3" and the rondeau is 11x4".

Bourgeat makes an 11x3.15" saute pan and the rondeau is the same size with different handles.

edit: SLKinsey's post slipped in ahead of mine. My understanding is that Falk makes the stainless lined copper sheet stock used by Mauviel and Bourgeat, but Mauviel is still making cookware in Villedieu, non, or maybe they are just making the tin lined pieces there? See video on this page--

http://www.williams-sonoma.com/products/80...iel&cm_src=hero

Edited by David A. Goldfarb (log)
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