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Q&A -- Understanding Stovetop Cookware


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In fact the only piece of cookware that I have ever worn out is my caphalon 8 Qt stockpot (I wore off the hard anodized interior).

Although I have thrown some pots away over the years - I still have the first set I ever bought when I got married over 30 years ago (an old set of Farberware classic). What's more - I still use it! Robyn

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Just as an aside - Bed, Bed & Beyond appears to be closing out "Commercial" nonstick Calphalon (perhaps it's being replaced 100% by Calphalon One).  Our local store had some very good deals this week (particularly when you throw in a 20% off coupon).

Definitely good stuff. Although I am not a nonstick fan in general, I do agree that everyone ought to have at least one large nonstick skillet for certain tasks that would otherwise be difficult. Calphalon Commercial nonstick is my favorite, and while I'll be sorry to see this line go away, there are tremendous deals to be had. I got two 12" frypans for 25 bucks each on Amazon.

And just my two cents - if you are thinking of buying a large expensive piece of cookware - and you're not quite sure what you'll use it for - wait until you have a recipe you want to cook - and you need the new pot.  Then shop around.  It's easier to buy something when you have some idea what you're going to use it for (which is why I don't normally buy formal dresses on spec  :smile: ).

This is very good advice, and somethiing I point out in the cookware class. It cannot be said too often.

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My next piece is looking to be a Cuisinart Chef’s classic stainless 12 Qt stockpot ($35 at Amazon).  Is there a good reason to spend a lot on a stockpot?

It's only important to spend enough to make sure the pot has a thick aluminum bottom. If the Cuisinart Chef's Classic has that, and if it's big enough for you (it would be a little small for me), then there is no reason to spend more.

I was then starting to think about the 2 Qt All-Clad Master Chef Saucier Pan ($90 at Amazon).  But I am really being drawn to the 2 Qt Falk Copper Saucier ($155).  This will be my primary sauce pan and I really, really like my new 4.5 Qt Saucier.

It depends, I suppose, on how many delicate sauces you make and, and how often. There is no doubt that the Falk saucepan is an amazing performer, but it may not be worth an additional 65 bucks unless you would really take advantage of it frequently. They're both good pans.

If you do decide to get the All-Clad pan, make sure you check out Cookware and More. That 2 quart MasterChef saucepan you're thinking of buying for 90 bucks? They'll sell you a "second" for 64 dollars.

The last piece I am considering is 5 to 7 Qt enameled cast iron casserole.  I have been looking Staub’s line of round and oval French ovens.  How is everyone using their enameled cast iron?  I know about braising and stewing, but what else are they used for?  What are the advantages and disadvantages of the round and oval?   Is this type of cookware in a 5 to 7 Qt casserole size versatile enough in the kitchen to justify its purchase? This is a type of cookware that I don’t have any experience with so I have more questions than answers.

Staub is my favorite maker of enameled cast iron. A quality product all the way around.

As for round versus oval, I'd go with round. Oval is really only useful for braising large, long pieces of meat (whole leg of lamb, goose, etc.).

As for the utility of a 5 - 7 quart enameled cast iron casserole, I have found them very useful. They are the best for braising and low/slow dishes like stews. I also like them very much for long simmered pasta sauces. Whether or not these are things you find yourself wanting to do should inform your decision about whether or not you want to invest in one of these pots.

Glad to hear that you are enjoying the Falk saucière (aka curved sauteuse evasée). So far, everyone I've recommended it to has loved it, and it's definintely the most used pan in my kitchen.

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  • 4 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...

So has anyone actually bought and tried this Calphalon One stuff? All I recall seeing around the site was some general derision and dismissiveness when it was first introduced.

"To Serve Man"

-- Favorite Twilight Zone cookbook

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The only report I have seen on the site thus far was from someone who bought a larger C1 piece (saute pan, I think), warped it on the first use and got her money back.

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So has anyone actually bought and tried this Calphalon One stuff?  All I recall seeing around the site was some general derision and dismissiveness when it was first introduced.

In the interest of Science :smile: I got the try-me chef's pan from bb&b - now all I have to do is find an unsuspecting college kid to give it to! Thinner than my old "Commercial Aluminum Cookware" (calphalon before it was calphalon), nothing even semi-non-stick about it, cleans up well, but so does all of my good cookware, which also is either dishwasher-able or more substantial in gauge or heavy copper, whatever.

Hey, I scrambled eggs in it ... with butter, and it was still pretty sticky. Those same eggs do much better in every single one of my non-nonstick (is that a term?) pans.

To be honest, I just went to W-S to eyeball and heft the other pieces; they seemed heavier than the try-me, but the salesperson whispered to me, "Honestly, I'm not impressed with this stuff."

shhhh !!!

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hi slkinsey,

I've been sifting through the ol' usenet threads regarding Demeyere, Paderno, Bourgeat, Falk, etc.

According to the old usenet threads there was a significant price difference between Bourgeat and Falk. Nowadays the difference in price has appeared to close with Bourgeat being slightly cheaper at some retailers. I guess since there is very little technical difference between the various brands, Bourgeat would be a sensible choice?

I was recently in Seattle and stopped by City Kitchens. There was a closeout sale on Demeyere Apollo. While I admit Demeyere cookware is overpriced, the Apollo Profi (straight-gauge) 11" frypan was on sale for $120. I was heavily tempted to buy it but opted to wait. I imagine at that price it was a worthwhile value.

I noticed that Lincoln carries a s/s cookware line called Centurion. Looking at the specs and pictures recalls exactly the Paderno Grand Gourmet line. Broadway Pan handler even states that the line is by Paderno. If this is true then the Paderno series appears more readily available.

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I've been sifting through the ol' usenet threads regarding Demeyere, Paderno, Bourgeat, Falk, etc.

According to the old usenet threads there was a significant price difference between Bourgeat and Falk.

:laugh: Yes, it was probably me making many of those posts.

Nowadays the difference in price has appeared to close with Bourgeat being slightly cheaper at some retailers.

This is true. I think I may have said this upthread, but I believe that Falk's prices rationalized the market for stainless lined heavy copper cookware, and they are all fairly compatible now. I should point out that it is not the case that they met in the middle. Bourgeat lowered their prices to meet Falk.

I guess since there is very little technical difference between the various brands, Bourgeat would be a sensible choice?

Bourgeat is a good choice, for sure. I tend to prefer Falk myself, because I think it's easier to maintain the brushed exterior, I like the option to buy my heavy copper without the (expensive, difficult to mantain and functionally not better) copper lids, and it's worth a few extra bucks (if it comes to that) to give my business to the people at Falk. But, yea... Bourgeat is great stuff at the right price.

I was recently in Seattle and stopped by City Kitchens. There was a closeout sale on Demeyere Apollo. While I admit Demeyere cookware is overpriced, the Apollo Profi (straight-gauge) 11" frypan was on sale for $120. I was heavily tempted to buy it but opted to wait. I imagine at that price it was a worthwhile value.

You could get an All-Clad MasterChef 12 inch frypan from Cookware and More for 70 bucks. This is very similar to the Demeyere Apollo frypan. All-Clad MasterChef has an exterior layer of aluminum at around 4.0 mm and an interior layer of stainless at around 0.4 mm. Demeyere says that their Apollo fry pans have a "7 ply material" construction at 4.8 mm. Setting aside the ridiculously inflated "7 layer" claim, what they in fact use is an outer steel layer at around 0.4 mm, an inner aluminum layer at around 4.0 mm and an internal steel layer at around 0.4 mm. So the extra 50 bucks for the Demeyere gets you an outer layer of stainless steel and a pan that is an inch less in diameter. Not a good deal in my opinion.

I noticed that Lincoln carries a s/s cookware line called Centurion. Looking at the specs and pictures recalls exactly the Paderno Grand Gourmet line. Broadway Pan handler even states that the line is by Paderno. If this is true then the Paderno series appears more readily available.

I noticed that at Broadway Panhandler the last time I was there. Sure does look a lot like Paderno Grand Gourmet.

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  • 4 weeks later...
Bourgeat is a good choice, for sure. I tend to prefer Falk myself, because I think it's easier to maintain the brushed exterior

Since I've posted last, I've made some upgrades to my cookware, including a Mauviel saute pan and a Falk saucier. I got the Mauviel because I disliked the greyish stainless steel interior of the Falk - I prefer a bright interior so I can tell color changes in my food. However, I didn't realize this before I owned both, but I believe the brushed exterior of the Falk helps to prevent tarnishing (not that it affects performance). I've polished my Mauviel several times now, but my Falk is still completely tarnish free! Amazing. Perhaps it's the difference in high heat on the saute pan, but I've taken my Falk to very high heats as well. Just something to think about, I guess.

I have a question as well - if I have a great copper saute pan, is there any time I would need a cast iron pan? I hear such great things about cast iron, but I feel that my copper saute pan does pretty much everything I think I would use cast iron on. I don't like to clutter up my kitchen with unnecessary tools, so I just wanted to check in to see if there's something I'm missing.

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First let me thank slkinsey and all the posters here for the most comprehensive discussion on how to make intelligent investments in cookware that I have ever seen. I 'lost custody' of my old cookware about a month ago, and I have been researching what to replace it with for some time now. During this process I have fixated sequentially on various sets or at least construction types. Slkinsey's course has put everything in perspective.

The main question I have for this post is, where do you get data on thickness of materials in various cookware lines?

This is rather crucial information once you understand its role in cookware quality and performance.

Second question: Does anyone have any thickness data for Farberware Millenium Clad Stainless Steel line or Cuisinart MultiClad line? [both of these are straight gauge, with aluminum extending up the sides of the pan] How about Cuisinart Everyday Stainless? [which has a copper disc sandwiched between stainless steel]

I know that Farberware is typically low-cost/low performance cookware--the set I'm replacing was some old Farberware. In my search, I had decided that I wanted straight gauge s/s, like All Clad s/s but cheaper. When I found that Farberware had a line like this and that some open stock pieces were on clearance at unbelievably low prices, I decided to go for it. Now I'm wondering what I got, and whether its low price point makes it a good value for straight gauge cookware.

The Farberware pieces I just got are intended only to be a stopgap while I figure out what to really invest in. After reading the lecture and Q&A here, I think I want to be buying open stock with construction like that of All Clad MC, Falk Culinair and Bourgeat.

My thanks to all who reply to my post.

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Target and Target at Amazon have a line called Chefmate that has riveted handles and from my experience is as good as All-Clad. Bought it for the motor-home and use it sometimes in the house. Not Falk but $99 for the set it's worth it. Here is the discussion http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?act=ST&f=3&t=16259

Edited by winesonoma (log)

Bruce Frigard

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111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321

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Does anyone know where I can get a history of the company Le Creuset. I know that they acquired Belgium's Descoware, but i'm interested in finding out what other companies they have taken over. If anyone knows anything or knows where I could get more information I'd really appreciate it!!

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Does anyone know where I can get a history of the company Le Creuset.  I know that they acquired Belgium's Descoware, but  i'm interested in finding out what other companies they have taken over.  If anyone knows anything or knows where I could get more information I'd really appreciate it!!

The only specific thing I know about Le Cruset is that the blue color was commissioned by Elizabeth David. She wanted cookware the exact color that was on a pack of Gauloises, the cigarettes she always smoked, because she was sick of the yellow. The blue was launched in 1967.

You can check at their website for history and so on...

Le Cruset of America

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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  • 2 months later...
I have a question as well - if I have a great copper saute pan, is there any time I would need a cast iron pan?  I hear such great things about cast iron, but I feel that my copper saute pan does pretty much everything I think I would use cast iron on.  I don't like to clutter up my kitchen with unnecessary tools, so I just wanted to check in to see if there's something I'm missing.

Sorry for the long delay. Sometimes these posts don't show up on my radar. So...

The short answer is that no, there's not really any reason to have a cast iron skillet if you have a good stainless lined heavy copper saute pan. There are a few things that cast iron might do a little better (making cornbread, fitting close under the broiler, etc.), but if clutter is a consideration I don't think there's much point in getting some cast iron. I have an unreasonable amount of cookware in my kitchen, including lots of copper and also lots of ancestral cast iron. I'd say I use the copper pieces maybe 50 times for each 1 use of the cast iron pans. I like having them around, but I probably wouldn't miss my cast iron pieces if I got rid of them (well, I'd miss them for sentimental reasons, but not for cooking reasons). If, on the other hand, you do have some room to spare, you might think of trying a cast iron piece. The great advantage of cast iron is that it's very inexpensive.

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slkinsey, I am so glad you are back posting here!

I have learned SO MUCH from your egullet class and from all the questions and answers here. I printed out the class and the entire 10 pages of posts and I am reading them for the 2nd time, using yellow highlighter for certain important points.

I have a ton of cookware and never knew really what to buy except that it should be heavy. Thus, I have a lot of the original Calphalon, which oddly, has not warped for me. In my most-used pans, the anodized aluminum surface has warn off and I need to replace a few pieces. I went to look at the latest Calphalon line and was disappointed that the weight is light and they all look to be some kind of non-stick, which I don't like, except in my omellete pan.

My cast iron skillet originally belonged to my husband's grandmother. I hear she used to clean it by sticking it for a while in the flames in the wood burning stove. I bet that wore off the seasoning! But we keep it well seasoned and it will last for a few more generations, I am sure.

I am rambling and don't have any specific questions. I just wanted to thank you for all the education.

*****

"Did you see what Julia Child did to that chicken?" ... Howard Borden on "Bob Newhart"

*****

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It seems that this thread has been inactive for a while, but I have a few minor follow-up questions, I'd welcome comments from Sam, Moby, or anyone.

As I mentioned, I've been delighted with my Mauviel 11 inch saute pan, heavy as it is. I don't mind the maintenance, and when it's scuffed up, even that has a certain stylish beauty. Here are my questions.

First, now that I'm looking to add one or two other pieces of copperware, I've noticed that Falk now offers a "stew pot", which seems to be an 11 inch curved sauteuse evasee but with two cast-iron handles instead of one long cast-iron stem.

Would there be any reason to select the "stew pot" rather than the traditional version? Seems to me, these pans are so heavy (their only drawback), you'd need two hands to shake either one. (It's a shame Falk isn't sold in stores so we can look at it before buying.)

Second, would there be any reason to buy any of the oval pans? People seem to love them. Falk makes them with cast-iron handles, and the larger ones, I think, are 2.5 mm copper, whereas the Mauviel seems to be 1.6 mm, with brass handles.

I didn't think a copper roasting pan, or smaller au gratin pan, is better in any significant way, although they certainly are striking, and a handsome look on the table.

Do I have this right? Is it strictly a cosmetic thing? Also, does that Mauviel copper paella pan offer anything of significance? Is it of use as a frypan, an alternative to the 30 cm commercial-grade frypan?

I'd love to hear any opinions from the group here, in case I get a chance to buy some stuff before the yearend holidays. Thank you very kindly.

Greg in Chicago

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  • 2 weeks later...

First of all, Sam is the master of all things here. I am but a mixed metaphor sea-slug in the kitchenware store of life compared to Orca 'Hawking' Kinsey!

As to the two handle/one handle thing, it's a matter of picking the thing up. I have a six quart long-handle mauviel sauce pan - and it's almost impossible to lift when full of liquid (I use it for high temp reductions among other things). My step mother has exactly the same pot (construction wise), but with two side handles instead - and it's just a matter of her being able to lift it. It's much, much easier with two. If i was to do it again, I'd probably go in that direction.

As for the oval question, interestingly, for me the deep versions work for smaller quantities of larger objects where you don't want to use gallons of stock or wine to cover (because of less internal volume). For example, I have a Creuset oval pot which works great for braising long pig's trotters, torchons of stuffed pig's cheek, or smaller quantities of oxtail. Large irregular objects. You can of course use it as you would use any other similar pot (ragus, stews, regular braises, frying or sauteeing at a pinch). The oval frying pans on the other hand... I don't understand.

Edited by MobyP (log)

"Gimme a pig's foot, and a bottle of beer..." Bessie Smith

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Hi Greg. Sorry for the delay in my reply. It's been a busy time around here with the move to the eGullet Society, and I haven't had as much time as I would like to view the forums (plus, you posted on my birthday). Thanks to Moby for bumping this thread, too. Anyway...

First, now that I'm looking to add one or two other pieces of copperware, I've noticed that Falk now offers a "stew pot", which seems to be an 11 inch curved sauteuse evasee but with two cast-iron handles instead of one long cast-iron stem.

Would there be any reason to select the "stew pot" rather than the traditional version?  Seems to me, these pans are so heavy (their only drawback), you'd need two hands to shake either one.  (It's a shame Falk isn't sold in stores so we can look at it before buying.)

What you're talking about is more or less a "curved rondeau" (you can see my description of a rondeau in the class. Most everything I say in the class about the rondeaux would also apply to a curved rondeau, except that the cooking surface area would be smaller and thus not as good for searing, etc.

Despite the fact that Falk calls it a "stew pot" I am not sure this is an ideal vessel for stewing, which is a "low and slow" undertaking. For long stewing, I tend to prefer enameled cast iron with heavy lid. Considering that Falk's 3 quart "stew pot" goes for $180 without a cover, it's hard to see why you'd want to buy one when a 5.5 quart enameled cast iron casserole from Le Creuset can be had for 185 bucks, and a 5 quart enameled cast iron casserole from Staub (the best, IMO) can be had for for $180 (both prices from Amazon.com and both pieces with covers).

The one case I could make for acquiring this Falk pan would be if you plan to use it more or less like a large curved sauteuse evasee with two short handles instead of one long one. Since I think the single handle design works much better for a large curved sauteuse evasee, the only reason I would ever want one with two short handles would be because I needed to conserve stovetop real estate.

Second, would there be any reason to buy any of the oval pans?  People seem to love them.  Falk makes them with cast-iron handles, and the larger ones, I think, are 2.5 mm copper, whereas the Mauviel seems to be 1.6 mm, with brass handles.

If you're asking about Falk's "oval casserole," most of what I said about their "stew pot" also applies here. I just don't see why it's worth sprending the money for copper and would gravitate towards enameled cast iron, which has the added advantage of being much less expensive.

If you're talking about gratin pans, it gets a little more complicated. The thing about a gratin pan is that looks do make a difference, because you will be bringing the pan to the table. Whether copper makes sense will largely depend on how you think you might use the pan. Strictly for making things "gratinée" (which is to say, cooked in the oven or under the broiler until brown and crispy on top), it probably doesn't add anything to use copper and you might as well use porcelain. Metal gratin pans can have added functionality, however, because they can be heated on the stove. You could use it as a "sizzle plate" to finish items in the oven. You could toss in some fat and garlic on the stovetop, start a whole fish in the pan, and take the whole thing to the oven. You could roast poultry in the gratin pan, use the same pan to make a pan sauce, return the poultry to the pan and take the whole thing to the table. There are a lot of things you could do with a metal gratin pan.

For many of these extended applications, heavy copper could really come in handy. Keep in mind, however, that the 1.6 mm Mauviel line is called "table service." It is fine for the oven, but is too thin for stovetop cooking.

Also, does that Mauviel copper paella pan offer anything of significance?  Is it of use as a frypan, an alternative to the 30 cm commercial-grade frypan?

The Mauviel copper paella pan is, afaik, only 1.6 mm. It is not useful for stovetop cooking.

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Thanks, Moby and Sam. I'm looking to decide what piece to acquire next. I may try an oval gratin pan, as it seems that one of the middle sizes might be versatile enough to roast a chicken, bake a larger gratin, and serve a pasta dish.

I can't say enough good things about that 11 inch Mauviel saute. :biggrin: Sturdy, responsive to heat adjustments, looks terrific freshly polished or scuffed, either way. It's fun to cook with that.

I'll probably buy a Falk sauteuse evasee when I decide which one. This stuff is addictive. I greatly appreciate your helpful suggestions. Be well.

Greg in Chicago.

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The oval frying pans on the other hand... I don't understand.

They are used for frying whole fish or filets. If you use a round pan that fits the fish's length, you'd have too much pan on the sides...which increases the chances of burning the fish...your pan being too big and all.

Edited by Stagiaire (log)

#1456/5000

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They are used for frying whole fish or filets. If you use a round pan that fits the fish's length, you'd have too much pan on the sides...which increases the chances of burning the fish...your pan being too big and all.

Exactly. Although I'm not sure how much difference this makes in a home kitchen and on a home stove.

The oval pans, in my experience, are primarily useful for cooking one fish or fillet at a time. This is something that happens often in a restaurant kitchen, but rarely at home. A fish large enough for two (or more) is impractical to cook on the stovetop in a single pan, and a fillet large enough for two (or more) is easily portioned prior to cooking to fit in a round pan.

This is not to say that an oval "fish pan" is completely useless in a home kitchen, but I think a large high-end nonstick skillet is a lot more functional.

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I was wondering if anyone knew anything about Hammersmith copper pots. The copper assocation sayes they are the last American copper pot maker, but there website is 2 years old and they have not answered the e-mail I sent too them. Does anyone know if they are still in business?

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I was digging around in my storeroom last night and came across a box of pots and pans I had completely forgotten I had. They are "Oil-Core" skillets and a dutch oven. They are so old that I no longer have anything in my files about them so much be from the 70s prior to 78 when I moved from my house in Canoga Park. I don't think I have even opened the box since I moved up here to Lancaster in 1988. The box was taped up with some old cloth tape covered with blue vinyl and that stuff hasn't been manufactured for years.

I have no idea why I would have bought these - its possible they were a gift - I can't even guess as to the Oil-Core, designation or why such a thing might be useful. They are stainless steel but the bottom looks like a slab of cast aluminum (dull light gray) about 3/8 inch thick fused onto the SS.

Has anyone ever heard of this type of cookware. I can't a manufacture name on it, just a large block "S" in a circle on the bottom.

"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 was digging around in my storeroom last night and came across a box of pots and pans I had completely forgotten I had.  They are "Oil-Core" skillets and a dutch oven.

You probably got them as a gift. It's the equivalent of that "waterless cooking system" crap that is shilled out for way too much money on a shaky premise today.

I was wondering if anyone knew anything about Hammersmith copper pots.

Looks like it's tin lined, which I don't recommend.

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