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Q&A -- Understanding Stovetop Cookware


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hmm... where does one buy falk culinaire? i'm not seeing as much of an online market for them as much as the mauviel, and i know i haven't seen them in the stores here in philadelphia. edit: nevermind, i was misspelling it--no 'e' on the end.

i see some dude with an ebay store called 'belgium for you' is selling a three-piece set of the curved sauciers for $295...

interesting. what i'd really like (because it's what i'm used to from the old aluminum pans i have) is a splayed or curved splayed saucepan, but they are only availaible up to 3 qt or so, and i really need* that extra 1/2 - 1 qt.

*for certain values of 'need'--the same values that are making me 'need' copper cookware...

Edited by mrbigjas (log)
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Less-is-More: you don't season nonstick.

Thanks for the quick reply. Trust me, I'd never heard of seasoning a non-stick either! But several websites I came across said "season as directed in your nonstick cookware care manual". Since mine had no care manual, I posted this question.

Of course, when you replied with the same thinking I originally had, I figured the sites I'd viewed were written by misinformed people who knew nothing about non-stick... (We all know you can't believe everything you read on the web.) So I searched some of the manufacturers sites, looking for care manuals.

And I got conflicting info.

Here's one example from the T-FAL®cookware website "Use and Care" document...

Here's one example from the T-FAL®cookware website "Use and Care" document...

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Here's the info from the T-fal site (I had to retype it because the post wouldn't take the info "copied and pasted"...)

For cookware with a non-stick interior, it is recommended to "season" the pan prior to first use. Wash the cookware thoroughly and dry. Heat each pan on low for 30 seconds, remove from heat and put one tablespoon of vegetable oil in each pan. Rub oil over the entire surface with a paper towel.

And here's Circulon's site:

"Do I need to season my non-stick cookware?

When using cookware with non-stick coating, it is not a requirement that you season your pan before first use. We do recommend that you wash the pan in warm soapy water, rinse and dry before first use to remove any packaging dust that may have accumlated on the cookware. "

I guess the jury is out... Now, I am curious if anyone out there has actually seasoned a nonstick. Or has a brand that suggests it in the care manual. Thanks.

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It depends on what makes the pan "nonstick," I suppose. But there is no reason to season a pan with a PTFE coating or similar.

"Seasoning" is the gradual buildup of polymerized fats that fill in pores in the metal that forms the cooking surface and provide some degree of "stick resistance" (the "nonstickness" often claimed by cast iron fans is, in my experience, wishful thinking). There is simply no reason you should have to (or would want to) do this on a nonstick cooking surface. Indeed, there is no way any kind of "seasoning" could possibly be less sticky than the nonstick surface itself. So any other stuff stuck to the surface of the pan will only make it more sticky, not less.

T-Fal's "seasoning" instructions sound suspiciously like "cleaning before first use" to me. :smile:

--

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Q: sam, do you (or anyone reading this thread) know if this 'heavy gauge' mauviel saucepan they're offering at wms-sonoma is a regular old 2mm version or a 2.5mm one?

because of various returns over the last six months, i have about $100 in credit at williams-sonoma, which would bring the price down to $120. but i want to be sure i'm getting the heaviest gauge--since it's (hopefully) a once-in-a-lifetime purchase, i don't want to get anything but the best.

Edited by mrbigjas (log)
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I'm sure Sam Kinsey will verify this, but Williams-Sonoma doesn't sell any Mauviel in the 2.5 mm commercial-grade thickness, although they do carry au gratin pans, roasting pans, and assorted table service copper pieces. Sur La Table carries the commercial-grade Mauviel, but their prices are astronomical.

The commercial-grade top quality pans always have a cast-iron handle, with the only exception, to my knowledge, being the casserole (stewpot), which is offered with brass or cast-iron handles, in two sizes.

I only have one Mauviel pan, the 11-inch saute, in 2.5mm copper with stainless lining, but it's an heirloom, a joy to cook with and a treasure to own. Several manufacturers offer product that looks like commercial-grade copperware, but isn't. The real McCoy is more expensive, but will never wear out, and is well worth paying for.

One amateur's opinion. If you happen to live reasonably near a city that has Williams-Sonoma and Sur La Table both, you can compare the two and see the difference for yourself, or, if not, you can visit the two respective websites and compare. Also, artcopperware.com has an elaborate website displaying all the Mauviel, although they no longer sell direct and ship from Normandy.

Best wishes.

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thanks gkg680, that was what i suspected.

my theory was that even if the thing was overpriced, a $100 discount would make it worthwhile--but only if it was what i wanted.

but i reckon i'll go back to the original plan of buying from one of those other sites, whether it's falk or mauviel or even matfer bourgeat. and go back to figuring out what else i should blow this money on at williams sonoma...

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It depends on what makes the pan "nonstick," I suppose.  But there is no reason to season a pan with a PTFE coating or similar.

Thanks again for your thoughts on the matter. Intellectually, I knew better (if the non-stick coating seals the pan, how could I force oil into the non-existent pores of the metal, especially on low heat for 30 seconds.)!

I'm embarrassed to say, I did it any way. Of course following T-fals instructions led to a puddle of oil lolling around in a tepid pan. I smiled at myself as I poured the oil out then wiped out the residual with a paper towel... :blush:

The Kirkland Signature pans seem to be working well. Good, heavy, even-heating non-stick pans, for pretty damn cheap. So far, I've made Mandarin Pancakes (for Peking duck), amazing homemade Potstickers (potsticklesses) and Truffled Scrambled Eggs.

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"Seasoning" is the gradual buildup of polymerized fats that fill in pores in the metal that forms the cooking surface and provide some degree of "stick resistance" (the "nonstickness" often claimed by cast iron fans is, in my experience, wishful thinking).

cast iron, in my experience, never gets as extremely non-sticky as teflon. it is, on the other hand, a lot closer than is stainless steel. i have no problems with omelets or pan cakes in my well seasoned cast iron, whereas in my stainless steel... so, seasoned cast iron IS as non stick as i need it to be :smile:

oh, and i just recieved two pre-seasoned "skeppshult" regular pan cake pans for christmas, and they worked like a charm straight from the factory! :wub:

Edited by oraklet (log)

christianh@geol.ku.dk. just in case.

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Q: sam, do you (or anyone reading this thread) know if this 'heavy gauge' mauviel saucepan they're offering at wms-sonoma is a regular old 2mm version or a 2.5mm one?

At first look, I'd have to agree with gkg680. It appears to be from the 2.0 mm line. One thing to look for is a rolled lip on the pan (which this saucepan appears to have). As far as I know, a rolled lip is not employed in Mauviel's 2.5 mm line.

--

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I know that for pancakes at least, wiping a thin layer of oil on the bottom of a PTFE pan makes it significantly easier to flip. It's not "seasoning" exactly but that might be what they meant. After all, it's not the first time a technical culinary term has been grossly abused.

PS: I am a guy.

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Q: sam, do you (or anyone reading this thread) know if this 'heavy gauge' mauviel saucepan they're offering at wms-sonoma is a regular old 2mm version or a 2.5mm one?

At first look, I'd have to agree with gkg680. It appears to be from the 2.0 mm line. One thing to look for is a rolled lip on the pan (which this saucepan appears to have). As far as I know, a rolled lip is not employed in Mauviel's 2.5 mm line.

yeah, it's got that. back to the drawing board...

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I know that for pancakes at least, wiping a thin layer of oil on the bottom of a PTFE pan makes it significantly easier to flip. It's not "seasoning" exactly but that might be what they meant. After all, it's not the first time a technical culinary term has been grossly abused.

Who knows what in the world they were thinking... but you are all definitely right. Makes no sense to try to season it (even though I did try!)

I always use a little fat in my nonstick -- I guess some people cook in them with no fat, but I would miss the extra flavor. But a quality non-stick pan allows me to use half the amount of oil (or butter, or duck fat...) I used to.

I lost 30 pounds a few years back, and so this is how I keep it off, and still allow myself the pleasure of cooking and eating!

My husband like cooking with cast iron, but I've got really wimpy wrists. I need 2 hands to lift the thing! And I hate cleaning it. (food doesn't stick too much, because it's well seasoned, but again, it is HEAVY to clean. Plus I always worry I'll forget and use soap, or a sponge with soap residue. And then I have to dry it and season it. Too much of a production for me. I'd rather spend the elaborate time cooking, not cleaning...

I'll be signing off from this forum, but thanks for all your input. Cheers!

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Q: sam, do you (or anyone reading this thread) know if this 'heavy gauge' mauviel saucepan they're offering at wms-sonoma is a regular old 2mm version or a 2.5mm one?

because of various returns over the last six months, i have about $100 in credit at williams-sonoma, which would bring the price down to $120.  but i want to be sure i'm getting the heaviest gauge--since it's (hopefully) a once-in-a-lifetime purchase, i don't want to get anything but the best.

Deep down in the thread, Sam said that Mauviel pots with a rolled-out rim and a handle of anything other than cast iron are 2 mm. The 2.5 mm. post have a straight rim and a cast iron handle. Therefore, the Williams-Sonoma pot is 2 mm.

Edited by k43 (log)
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Sam and the rest of you infinitely knowledgeable kitchen folk,

My husband (God bless his little cotton socks) bought me an All Clad Stainless 14" open stir fry pan for Christmas. He knew I was looking for an aluminum core pan with a stainless-steel interior and exterior but wasn't quite sure what I'd be using it for.

To offer some background, I do a fair bit of cooking in my Calphalon Professional 12" everyday pan. It's been a trusty helpmate in the kitchen for a number of years; however, the surface has started to degrade over the last little while and I'm looking to replace it. The rest of my cookware arsenal includes a Calphalon Professional 1.0 qt. saucier, Calphalon Professional 2.5 and 4.5 qt. sauce pans, Circulon 8" and 12" non-stick skillets, both a conventional and a non-stick wok, a Le Creuset 5.5 qt. round oven and Calphalon Professional 3.5 and 8.0 qt. stock pot. No, I never intended to have that many Calphalon Pro pieces. We have relatives who have a thing for anodized Calphalon and got a little overzealous in the gift-giving department over the course of a few birthdays and Christmases.

I've been reading both this course and the accompanying Q&A until my eyes have turned square and am now looking for a bit of input as I talk my way through figuring out which pan I should get in exchange for the open stir fry.

From comments that Sam made in the early pages of the Q&A, I gather that the best multipurpose pan for a sear/quick deglaze and braise/monter avec beurre to create sauce would be a sauté pan versus a frying pan. Though the sauté pan might not create quite as much of a crust on a relatively dry/low-fat sear, it will create a more hospitable environment for a braise. Fair enough. I also noted Sam's comments that the All Clad Master Chef line is higher in aluminum content than the Stainless line.

Here are my primary questions:

  • Does All Clad's newer MC2 (Master Chef 2) line still have a higher aluminum content than the Stainless line?
  • Have I reached the correct conclusion in choosing a sauté pan over a fry pan (both with lids)?
  • If so, would I be best served by a 3.0 qt. (10-1/2" x 2-9/16"), a 4.0 qt. (10-1/2" x 3-1/4") or a 6.0 qt. (12 7/8" x 2 3/4") sauté pan?

Thanks for suffering through my OCD-longwindedness. :rolleyes: Any and all comments would be greatly appreciated.

Cheers!

Joie Alvaro Kent

"I like rice. Rice is great if you're hungry and want 2,000 of something." ~ Mitch Hedberg

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Is it kind of a waste to use copper on electric coil stove top? Or is it just as good on electric coils as gas?

Also, I think of sauteing as shaking or moving the pan around alot, does the weight of a copper saute pan make this more difficult or do you use a different method?

Sorry I didn't see this one earlier...

To a certain extent, I'd say that using heavy copper on an electric coil stove top is a waste of money. A big part of the reason copper is so nice is that it is extremely responsive to changes in the heat setting. The nice thing about a gas stove is that it responds immediately when you turn the flame down, and that response can be translated into a responsive pan. Electric stoves -- and especially the coil types -- are notorious for being very slow to respond to changes in the heat setting. So it your heat source is slow to respond, it automatically means that your pan will be slow to respond. This means that is is impossible to reap one of the major rewards of using copper.

Some people do have trouble with the weight of copper -- although I have to wonder whether there is a truly significant difference in the weight of a fully loaded aluminum pan and a fully loaded copper pan of equivalent size. The only move I could see for which heavy copper would potentially create a problem due to its weight is the "flip-toss" move where you are trying to turn the ingredients over in a fry pan. For that, I'll often use two hands. For the classic saute technique in a saute pan, all you should need to do is shake the pan back and forth on the burner without lifting it. The food should bounce off the straight sides and tumble around in the pan. I also find that, when lifting heavy and brace the rest of the handle's length against the underside of your forearm. Your mileage may vary, of course. I have strong hands and, if pictures are any evidence, "Popeye forearms."

Here are my primary questions:
  • Does All Clad's newer MC2 (Master Chef 2) line still have a higher aluminum content than the Stainless line?
  • Have I reached the correct conclusion in choosing a sauté pan over a fry pan (both with lids)?
  • If so, would I be best served by a 3.0 qt. (10-1/2" x 2-9/16"), a 4.0 qt. (10-1/2" x 3-1/4") or a 6.0 qt. (12 7/8" x 2 3/4") sauté pan?

I haven't had a chance to measure the MC2 line myself yet, but I have to believe that it still has more aluminum than the Stainless line. Are you locked into All-Clad? You could get a lot more aluminum where it counts at a much lower price going with something like Sitram or another thick disk-bottom design.

Yes, I think your instincts are right about getting a saute pan. It's very versatile, and you already have two frypans.

As long as your stove is powerful enough, I'd suggest you go for the largest diameter pan. Depth is not so important in a saute pan, so there is no significant functional difference between the 3 quart and 4 quart pans above (as an aside, I think it's silly for manufacturers like All-Clad to list saute pans by quarts instead of by inches in diameter).

--

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Wow... that was fast! Thanks, Sam.

To answer your question, no, I'm not locked into choosing All-Clad. My husband did some bartering with a friend of ours who owns a cookware shop, so my choice is limited by the lines that he carries. That, plus I'm sure that All-Clad was the first well-known name that popped into his head when it came to stainless clad.

Though I do already have the two Circulon skillets, I was considering a stainless-clad fry pay versus a sauté pan since I'm concerned about damaging the non-stick finishes on the Circulons when I turn the heat up high enough to achieve a good seared crust. And, yes, I am cooking on a professional-grade gas cooktop. Simmer burner is 4,000 Btus, regular burners are 7,500 Btus and high-heat burner is 11,000 Btus.

I'm certainly with you on the listing of sauté pans by quarts; heck, I'm Canadian, so my spatial reckoning of a quart is pretty piss poor! I'll check and see if Sitram is part of our friend's inventory, but I won't be disappointed if All Clad ends up being the pan of choice. :wink:

Joie Alvaro Kent

"I like rice. Rice is great if you're hungry and want 2,000 of something." ~ Mitch Hedberg

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I'm certainly with you on the listing of sauté pans by quarts; heck, I'm Canadian, so my spatial reckoning of a quart is pretty piss poor!

I don't see why. Just simply multiply the number of quarts by 0.9464 to get liters. Nothing to it! :wink:

--

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[*]Does All Clad's newer MC2 (Master Chef 2) line still have a higher aluminum content than the Stainless line?

Recently I had the opportunity to visually (no micrometer!) compare the MC2 and the SS lines in a store. To my eyes, the same exact pan in the MC2 definitely had noticably thicker walls than the SS.

I have two All Clad MC2 pans and like them, FWIW (even though they may be overkill according to Sam, but they were gifts so I didn't mind!) Also, FWIW, I have never used anything from the SS line so I have no direct experience with them.

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  • Does All Clad's newer MC2 (Master Chef 2) line still have a higher aluminum content than the Stainless line?

Recently I had the opportunity to visually (no micrometer!) compare the MC2 and the SS lines in a store. To my eyes, the same exact pan in the MC2 definitely had noticably thicker walls than the SS.

I have two All Clad MC2 pans and like them, FWIW (even though they may be overkill according to Sam, but they were gifts so I didn't mind!) Also, FWIW, I have never used anything from the SS line so I have no direct experience with them.

What, you don't carry a micrometer in your back pocket for just such an occasion?! :wink:

Thanks for the input, cake. Greatly appreciated. May I ask how long you've had them? Jamie Valvo is asking questions about the durability of the newer MC2 line in the Cooking forum, so I'm curious about how they're holding up for you.

Joie Alvaro Kent

"I like rice. Rice is great if you're hungry and want 2,000 of something." ~ Mitch Hedberg

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Most of my All Clad is stainless steel and is from at least two years ago, with the exception of the two new saute pans I received from Christmas. I particularly like my roasting pans, although I understand they aren't making them the same way anymore. So far, I've only used both saute pans for deep frying and they performed just fine. I don't however to a lot of heavy duty professional cooking so perhaps I wouldn't notice! I like my SS All Clad.

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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From reading the foregoing, it would appear that 2.5mm copper lined with stainless steel inside could be the best choice for all around cooking performance.

It would appear that for making reductions and sauces that a flared curved saute pan or a saucepan could be used. What sizes and shapes would be most useful for such a purpose? I would be cooking for usually 2, but sometime 3-6 people. I am choosing between flared saute pan(s) in the following sizes:

1 Qt. - 6.3" Dia.

2 Qt. - 7.9" Dia.

3 Qt. - 9½" Dia.

4½ Qt. - 11."Dia.

And straight-sided saucepan(s) in the following sizes:

1.3 Qt. - 5½" Dia.

1.9 Qt. - 6.3" Dia.

2.7 Qt. - 7" Dia.

3.7 Qt. - 7.9" Dia.

I also have the following to choose from to complete a new cookware set:

Casserole/Saucepot

(Lid Separate)

3 Qt. - 7.9" Dia.

6 Qt. - 9½" Dia.

8 Qt. - 11" Dia.

Sauté Pan

(Lid Separate)

2.1 Qt. - 7.9" Dia.

3.4 Qt. - 9½" Dia.

5.4 Qt. - 11" Dia.

Sautoir

(Lid Separate)

3.4 Qt. - 9½" Dia.

5.4 Qt. - 11" Dia.

Frypan

(Lid Separate)

9½" Dia.

11" Dia.

11 7/8" Dia.

14" x 8" Oval

What would be the recommended pans and sizes that would be most useful if you were starting from scratch? And what lids would be appropriate for those choices?

Also would there be any appreciable difference between the 11" and 11 7/8" frypan in terms of capacity? Of course the 11" is a bit less expensive...

It would also appear that Bourgeat is the same cooking performance as Mauviel and Falk. And that the prices for Bourgeat at this website are attractive relatively speaking to the other 2 brands:

http://www.mychefsfavorites.com/

Has anyone bought from this site before?

Thanks in advance for any advice!

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  • 6 months later...

I may have damaged a pan of mine irrepairably, and I need some advice on whether it is still usable.

The pan is conventional All-Clad construction, stainless steel inside and out, sandwiching a layer of aluminum that runs up the side of the pan. It's a skillet.

I accidentally let it boil dry and heat that way for about two hours, which gave it a bronze hue, among other things. Slow cooling followed by soaking restored the color, at least to the inside. Boiling with salt and vinegar loosened the solids that were burnt onto the pan.

What I am left with is a pan that feels smooth to the touch on the inside, but is covered with tiny black spots that seem to be part of the pan surface now. My questions are

Is this pan still safe to cook in?

What are the black flecks and are they removable somehow?

My guess is that superheating the pan allowed something to get into the pores of the metal, much the way a cast-iron pan will absorb oil when heated. But that's just a guess.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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As long as it still cooks, it should be fine. Might be a little stickier, but I don't see that as a problem. The tiny black spots are probably carbonized something-or-other. You might try coating it with oven cleaner, sealing it in a garbage bag overnight and rinsing it off the next day. That might remove some of the black spots.

--

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...What are the black flecks and are they removable somehow?

My guess is that superheating the pan allowed something to get into the pores of the metal, much the way a cast-iron pan will absorb oil when heated.  But that's just a guess.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

I have been totally amazed by the cleaning power of powdered stainless steel cleanser. It comes in a container that looks like Comet or Barkeeper's Friend and it has saved my aspidistra on a number of occasions when I have done careless things with my stainless steel cookware.

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

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