Cuisinart Cookware...please Help Me Decide
Q: Trying to decide among the everyday stainless, the non stick stainless, or the anodized non stick aluminum ones. Would like to stay with Cuisinart. I'm a bit wary of non stick, as I feel they only last a short # of years. Anyone have these, and can give me some pros or cons of the different materials. I have some Le Creuset now, I'm a bit tired off. Thanks!
A: I just went through a major overhaul of the pots and pans around here a short while ago. Here's how I approached it: I hate Teflon. Period. You can't get it too hot, you can't oven cook with it, you can't use regular utensils (whisks, turners, etc.), and it doesn't even have the advantage of being dishwasher safe. The only advantage it has is non-stick properties. The only reason this would be important is if you are on a low-fat diet and can't use the small amount of butter or oil necessary to cook in real cookware without food sticking. Teflon coated pans are for lazy cooks. (Just MHO - don't get all worked up if you really dig your non-stick Circulon or Cuisinart) Now that we've narrowed things down a little, I'd like to eliminate copper as well. Yes, it's the greatest heat conductor available for cooking. It's also a maintenance nightmare, horrendously expensive, and if you gouge the tinning the pan's no good any longer. Re-tinning isn't cheap, either. Polishing my cookware isn't my idea of fun either. Copper cookware tends to be bought by folks with more money than sense for use as a kitchen decoration more than anything else. Which leaves us with cast iron, stainless, and anodized aluminum. Cast iron is invaluable for certain roles. Searing meats, frying chicken, making pancakes, making french toast... anything that needs good heat retention and browning properties begs for cast iron. Have at least a 10" and a 12" black iron pan available. It's very affordable, as well. Stainless - Stainless is good for sauteeing veggies, cooking fish, making eggs, and just about anything else that doesn't require deep browning. In fact, it's hard to get a deeply browned surface in a stainless pan. I can highly recommend Calphalon's "Pots & Pans" stainless line - they're made well and they're more reasonably priced than All-Clad. The handles are comfortable and stay relatively cool, even with longer cooking times (however, I've been told I have asbestos palms, so YMMV). The pieces have thick aluminum disks welded to the bottoms and distribute heat very evenly and quickly. Get yourself a 10" omelet pan, a 2 qt. sauce pan, and a 3 qt sauce pan. Anodized aluminum - Very durable. You can clean it with Scotch-Brite pads if you need to without marring the surface. Distributes heat very well. Browns adequately, though not as good as cast iron. Non-reactive, so you can make acidic sauces in it without fear of pitting or off-flavors. However, it is expensive. Get Calphalon. They have a heft and feel to them that I've yet to experience with other manufacturers. A 12" omelet and a 3 1/2 qt. saucepot are good pieces. Add an optional saute pan if you wish, but I've managed to get along without one for years (I do most of my braising in my covered cast iron). Now - for the large saucepot/"dutch oven" (6 - 6 1/2 qt). I would recommend this piece in the more expensive anodized surface. The reason? A stainless one with a shiny finish is not going to work well for oven-braising (think pot-roast). An anodized version works just as well in the oven as on the stove. The stainless version is pretty much limited to stovetop use.
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