Q: I have been researching cookware in the eventuality that my current cookware wears out its welcome, or its non-stick coating, whichever comes first. From the research that I have done it appears that the cookware "of choice" for the professional chef is some kind of hard-anodized aluminum, namely, Calphalon . The cookware of choice for the home-cooking enthusiast seems to be calphalon or circulon, which, as I understand it, is calphalon with a "hi-lo" groove and a non-stick coating. I have also read lots about the cookware of the great french chefs being stainless steel, with an aluminum core presumably. What are the opinions around here? Also, I recently (read last night) made my first demi glace. It really started out as my first attempt to make a high-quality brown chicken stock, then I got industrious and reduced it down quite a bit more (by about 1/10). Now, when I chill it, it has a thick-jello consistency; which seems to be a demi glace according to my cookbook. Anyway, does anyone have some suggestions for how to use this demi glace (I have about 1.5 cups)? Hopefully something that will highlight the demi glace and not overpower it so I can see how it interacts with other foods.
A: The cookware of choice for professionals is really stainless steel lined thick copper (Bourgeat, Mauviel, etc). Expensive, but a beautiful performer that lasts a long time thanks to the stainless. Calphalon and other hard anodized aluminums wouldn't last in a commercial kitchen - chefs and cooks are rough on their equipment and not likely to reach for plastic/nylon/wood utensils and give the anodized the care it needs to last. Anodization does wear away like nonstick coatings. Also popular in commercial kitchens are plain aluminum and steel-lined aluminum. Nonstick pans are purchased with the expectation that they will need to be replaced regularly. The cookware of choice for the Highlight it by using it as a base for a simple sauce. Saute chicken in a pan, remove when done, saute shallots in the remaining fat taking care not to burn the fond (brown crust left from the chicken) or the shallots, deglaze with some the demi-glace and, maybe, a little wine, reduce, season with salt and pepper, enrich with some unsalted butter, strain and pour over the chicken. Simple, elegant and the taste of the sauce is almost entirely dependent upon the demi-glace. Stainless steel and copper seem to be the choice of the great chefs, but I actually prefer cast iron. Yes, very heavy to use but will last for generations, give good heat transference and a side benefit is that you do get traces of iron in your diet I suppose! Also, the thickness means they don't stick.
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