randallhank's Profile

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Help me build a great cookware set!

The cast iron was proof that thickness, by itself, does not produce an even heating pan. It's a combination of thickness, or mass, and specific materials -- a ratio. Copper is ideal, but it seems you need at least 2mm of it (and probably more like 2.5) to mitigate against the limitations of the heat source (mainly the size). In other words, copper conducts so well that you need a certain amount of mass to ensure that horizontal conduction can keep up with the vertical. But, it seems you can use some other metal to give a little assist in actually slowing down the conductivity juts a tad (so long as you have 2mm of copper). 1.5mm of steel is sufficient. No other material is needed. This is the formula for both Demeyere Atlantis and Sitram Catering. It's not a crazy thick base on either. But, if you forgoe the copper (or use less than 2mm), you will need greater thickness of some other reasonably conductive material to achieve a similar result. It seems that you need about 2.5 to 3.5 mm of a conductive material like aluminum, PLUS the stainless for high heat applications. Pans like Mauviel M'cook stainless are going to struggle with even heating at high heat applications, regardless of whether they call themselves 3-ply or 5-ply. They will probably be fine for medium heat applications at around 2.5 to 3mm of total material.

Sep 18, 2014
randallhank in Cookware

Help me build a great cookware set!

Hi Kaleo,

I think the advantages of the Le Creuset brand have to do with the quality/durability of enamel. This is pretty well documented, if only anecdotally.

The main advantage of CI dutch ovens, etc., in general is the ability to stay warm. In a less than ideal oven situation, by virtue of being relatively poor conductors of heat, they are less susceptible to the scorching that can occur when an oven cycles on and off. I suspect this is why they were popular for hearth cooking. It's just the right amount of conductivity and retention for a particular application and heat scenario. Slow cooking requires an average temperature, but most ovens have a binary heating system: either on or off, with the duration being the only thing to change. Ditto for a fire when you throw in some dry wood. Cooking on a stovetop is a different thing.

Sep 18, 2014
randallhank in Cookware

Help me build a great cookware set!

no it isn't

Sep 18, 2014
randallhank in Cookware

Help me build a great cookware set!

Ahhhh! Look, I own (or have owned), seven of the lines he tested, and the results are exactly as I would have expected based on my experience.

And there is this which I know must crush your worldview vis-as-vis CI on induction:

"Cast iron is such a bad conductor relative to copper and aluminum that the “O” had not closed by the time I took the temperature reading (several minutes), so cast iron is even worse at heat conduction than these numbers imply–even with a huge thickness advantage. But to keep things in perspective, cast iron is a fantastic heat conductor compared to enamel, glass, ceramic, and stainless steel."

The takeaway, which he makes clear in the methodology, is that beyond the bottom layer the cookware all performs as one would expect without induction. As Kaleo mentions above (I think), the fact that the gas rankings are so similar sort of highlights that point.

Sep 17, 2014
randallhank in Cookware
1

Help me build a great cookware set!

I agree.

Sep 17, 2014
randallhank in Cookware

Help me build a great cookware set!

Sep 16, 2014
randallhank in Cookware

Help me build a great cookware set!

I think D5 probably has an advantage in that it has improved stability/resistance to wrapping. This is the "technology" All-Clad wanted to protect. But this (presumed) advantage has nothing to do with induction! They may be generally more effective than the regular stainless line on all electric heat sources, as gas ranges are more forgiving of warping. But we know they aren't going to advertise it that way!

This is the most infuriating thread I've seen here in a long time. The number of layers clearly has nothing to do with induction ability. All-Clad is purposely conflating cooking properties with induction specific properties -- and exactly one person here doesn't get it.

D5 is excellent cookware. Nice rolled rims, the (slightly) improved handle, and likely a bit less likely to warp. It's not on my must-have list, but it might crack the back end of my top ten cookware lines, but I am not sure. I liked the brushed finish version.

Sep 16, 2014
randallhank in Cookware

Help me build a great cookware set!

I am with Kaleo. I have zero confidence in what I've seen from CI. Neophytes or hucksters ... take your pick.

Sep 16, 2014
randallhank in Cookware

Help me build a great cookware set!

I agree with you in that I would say that pro bakers are working under conditions where the conductivity of the cookware may not be a significant consideration. Certain baked good benefit from high conductivity. Overall the quality of the oven(s) plays a much greater role in the results.

As I have mentioned with range variation, the higher quality the heat source, the less important slight gradations in conductivity are. As you have mentioned regarding CI, the oven already has an equalizing affect relative to the stovetop.

If the cooking differences in a professional kitchen are negligible, other considerations come into play. everything has to be cleaned and used the next day (or the SAME day). In other words, efficiency and durability become much more important.

Sep 16, 2014
randallhank in Cookware

Help me build a great cookware set!

There are many reasons why particular cookware is used in a professional setting, and optimizing the result isn't always one of them. One the one hand, the quality of heat source(s) in professional kitchens mitigate some of the advantages of specialized cookware. And durability is of much greater concern in an industrial setting. A pro chef/baker will work out kinks with timing and temperature to achieve a consistent result in a way that the home cook likely won't bother with. You can't compare a situation in which a home cook bakes a pie once or twice a month, to a kitchen that might pump out a hundred per day.

Sep 15, 2014
randallhank in Cookware

Best pots/pans?

That is sad. Frankly, for a measly 1mm of copper I am not too high on the Bonjour. Meyer is capable of making great cookware, but they just don't. I feel like if you combined two or three of their lines you'd really be cooking. I've raved about the stainless line they made for Michael Chiarello, but the "Hestan" stuff they made for Williams Sonoma is really average, from what I've heard. Likewise for Bonjour, which is made at the same factory in Italy. Ironically, the old Costco set they made in Italy got rave reviews. So maybe expectations have something to do with it. My Chiarello pans have about the thickest bottom I've ever seen and cook as evenly as anything out there. Plus they have really functional, comfortable handles, set at the perfect angle, and the best pouring lips I have ever used (see photo). That whole set (6 pans, 4 lids) sold for just $600, and closeout was at $300! That just shows you how the All-Clads of the world take advantage.

Sep 11, 2014
randallhank in Cookware

Best pots/pans?

Sitram Catering. Hands down best for the money for everyday cookware. I mean you can get a killer cast iron skillet for $20, or a carbon steel pan for about the same, but I think if you are looking for a small set of something that will give you excellent responsiveness, QUALITY stainless, and last forever you go with Sitram. In fully clad, check out Spring Brigade Premium multi-ply. It's hard to find but high quality fully clad with welded handles at a reasonable price. Not really available on this side of the pond though. Fissler has gotten pretty expensive, and I don't see what the advantage is over the Sitram lines.

One other quality line for the money is Mauviel M'cook stainless. I am partial to the ones with cast iron handles, if you can find them, but the steel ones are probably perfectly fine.

I don't understand the fetish some people have with glass lids. When the food is cooking you normally can't see much with the steam. Plus they are heavy, not as safe in the oven, and a pain to store.

Sep 11, 2014
randallhank in Cookware

Best pots/pans?

If I recall, it is indeed Meyer. I think it's nearly identical to the old BonJour line.

Sep 09, 2014
randallhank in Cookware

Ditched our no-name-non-stick saute pan for the Mauviel M'cook 5.8 qt. Stainless Steel Saute Pan & Lid With Helper Handle

Hi Duffy,

I just picked up the M'cook stainless 9.5" splayed saute with cast iron handle and lid. As you know I have a ton of cookware, but I got this one at half of retail <$100. Based on your experience with this stuff, should I keep it?

Sep 09, 2014
randallhank in Cookware

New All-Clad Handles... About Time.

BTW, the handles are still pretty lousy. Too rounded on the top edge.

Aug 17, 2014
randallhank in Cookware

New All-Clad Handles... About Time.

I guess my suggestion about making multiple pans the same diameter is what most companies do to streamline the lid situation. But that would ruin the nesting capabilities of this set. Still, I think this was a terrible compromise. In restaurant style cooking you can skip the lid for many things because the cooktops are so powerful and no one seems to care about wasting energy. Maybe they are counting on anyone who can afford this set having a high BTU cooktop, but I think home cooks need lids.

Aug 17, 2014
randallhank in Cookware

Help me build a great cookware set!

I'm going to walk back my comments about three dimensional cooking just a bit. A thicker clad product will allow a stew or pot roast to cook more evenly on the stovetop, and likewise a braised dish in the oven seems to benefit from a thick "second oven." Basically we are talking about reduced conductivity mitigating an imperfect heat source, and retaining moisture properly. Not sure you'll agree with that, but my experience has been that less conductive materials often do better in the oven. It's why people bake with stoneware and glass.

Aug 17, 2014
randallhank in Cookware

New All-Clad Handles... About Time.

Maybe, maybe not. I think the whole point of this set is that it has everything you need. After seeing this set in person I can tell you that the best thing about it is that the pan sizes and dimensions relative to those sizes are done from a professional perspective.

I'll second the Demeyere rec if you have the cheese. If not, and induction isn't part of the equation, try Sitram Catering. More often than not, I reach for those for everyday cooking.

Aug 16, 2014
randallhank in Cookware

New All-Clad Handles... About Time.

The lids are a disaster in a number of ways. You would have to find some real lids for at least a few of the pans. The braiser is one of the nicest pans in the set and you certainly aren't going to use the universal lid in the oven! Why not just make the stocker, braised and sauté all with the same diameter? The sauté, btw is also really nice -- 5 quarts with great dimensions, somewhere in between a regular low-sided sauté and a deep sauté. rolled rims, brushed exterior, I'd cook with it. But I don't need to.

Aug 16, 2014
randallhank in Cookware

New All-Clad Handles... About Time.

LOL. I saw this line on Friday and I had the exact same experience with the lids. Part of the issue is also that WS is so eager to show the nesting capabilities that they tried to display everything on one tiny hightop. I think having universal lids for a set this nice is a mistake. How about simply have more pans with similar diameter?

Aug 16, 2014
randallhank in Cookware

Help me build a great cookware set!

I think you hit the nail on the head as far as All-Clad. It is self intuitive that a thicker pan will make for less responsiveness. Making the cladding thicker does seem to blunt hotspots, at leasts in the tests I've seen. A highly conductive metal like copper seems to mitigate the need for more mass, and at the same time allows for better downward response. Obviously Demeyere thought thickness was an advantage because they made their Proline frypans with a ton of aluminum. Both objective testing and personal experience says that copper will result in a more even result even in a clad setting, especially if either the copper is > 2mm or the overall thickness is over 4mm. So, there are a number of ways to achieve even heating. The issue with D5 (or AC copper core, for that matter), is that it is none of the above. So, D23 might be the ticket, but I don't see the point in the alternating of materials, except that All-Clad thought they could replicate the Proline experience while keeping the weight down. I'm not a fan. D5 seems to take the maximum amount of energy and achieve only middling result.

I made the same observations as you did about boiling tests, but using a wider pan on a wider burner obviously makes a difference. The only point I'll quibble with involves cooking in three dimensions. Very few applications require 3 dimensions, especially if you have a pan and or stove that can maintain a very low simmer. There are a handful of applications that would benefit, but my Demeyere pans can hold a Hollandaise just fine. You just have to know your cooktop and your cookware. I would love to have a copper saucepan and/or sauté, but I pretty much never saw those things in the professional kitchens I worked in, including some 4 and 5 diamond rated places. If you dabble in chocolate and candy maybe you need a full compliment of 3 dimensional cooking vessels, but most highly skilled cooks probably would consider more than one or two pure indulgence. But, hey, indulge away.

I enjoy the challenge of my electric coil, and mastering the skill of using every drop of energy while producing perfect results. As you know, this endeavor has involved a revamp of my cookware, but I actually think I am cooking better than ever. I do think you need cookware that sits dead flat to really make it work, otherwise you need to keep the heat level higher than it should be to account for inefficiency, and this can create hotspots and really affects control. My current cookware allows me to keep the heat source lower for every application, so I reduce the need for downward response. And it's a lot easier to go from 5 down to 3 than it is to go from 7 down to 5 -- there is just too much energy built up at that point. Downward response on electric is much easier when you are dabbling at the low end of the stove's power output. And, like you say, you can always pull the pan off the burner. I have looked into getting a better electric, but there isn't much out there. The options I have aren't worth my time, so I just focus on vessel efficiency. It's the poor man's kitchen remodel!

Thanks for the tip on the copper plate. I am interested to check it out.

Aloha,

Randy

Aug 16, 2014
randallhank in Cookware
1

Help me build a great cookware set!

LOL. The rivets themselves take up very little volume. That's not what I meant. The tendency, at least for me, is in doing sauce work, making rice, or thicker soups is to choose a pan that is slightly bigger in hopes of cooking only below the rivets. On the other hand I have a 1.1 quart Demeyere that I don't hesitate to use. If I had that size in an All-Clad I would never use it because I would be working around the rivets, worried about food sticking, etc. I would probably grab the 1.5 quart in the All-Clad. Likewise I can make what seems like a ton of rice in the 2.3 quart Demeyere, whereas I would almost certainly grab a 3 quart All-Clad for the same job. The rivets are more of an annoyance than anything else.

Aug 16, 2014
randallhank in Cookware

Help me build a great cookware set!

To just follow up and clarify. The tests I did were on a standard radiant ring electric coil.

I did follow up with the 9.5 inch soup pot on the larger, more powerful burner. It boiled the water in less than 10 minutes. Then I retested the All-Clad stainless sauce pot on the same burner. It took about 13.5 minutes to reach a rapid boil. So the full cladding is clearly not helping much in transferring heat from the source into the sides and into the water. If you look at the even heating rankings I posted earlier in this thread for saute pans, you'll see that the aluminum full clad pans have a pretty remarkable heat differential at 10cm, around 80 degrees or more. The responsiveness is always going to be an issue compared to thickness, but full cladding doesn't improve responsiveness. The only thing that seems to improve responsiveness is using a more conductive material, and even that difference in conductivity is fairly limited in a clad pan of any type. As Kaleo says, the cladding ultimately blunts the responsiveness, sometimes in a good way (even heating), and sometimes bad (temperature control). But the various tests out there seem to indicate that cladding alone is not enough to create an even heating surface. The real question for me, though, is whether having a copper clad base can improve the tradeoff between evenness and responsiveness that appears to be unavoidable in a stainless/aluminum clad situation. I think the evidence suggests that it does. For me, being stuck in a situation with below average heat control, this difference matters. If I had a gazzilion watt gas range that could also hold a perfect simmer, I think the differences would be negligible, or at least overlooked.

Aug 07, 2014
randallhank in Cookware

Help me build a great cookware set!

OK. I finally tested the 2 quart All-Clad stainless sauce pan relative to the Sitram Catering (copper clad base), and Letang and Remy (thinner copper clad base). The overall results were that they all went from cool tapwater on a cold small (6 inch) burner on high heat in between 13 and 14.5 minutes. In other words, there wasn't much difference. If you must know, the Sitram was quickest and the Letand et Remy came in second, and the All-Clad slowest. But the difference wasn't significant. So long as the material is fairly conductive, what we are really measuring is the speed at which the water is transferring the heat.

Clearly the fully clad aspect isn't create much of an advantage, and if it is, it is being overcome by having copper in the base. Assuming the copper offers a bit more control, I see no benefit to a fully clad vessel for cooking with water, or even for sauce work for that matter. Once you get past this aspect, you are back at the even heat rankings for sear and saute. I think the thick base pans consistently outperform everything but solid copper, unless you are getting something as thick as the Proline. Even the Proline is outperformed in even heating by the Atlantis saute, though I like the super hot sidewalls for searing larger cuts and a package of chicken breasts all at once.

My next test will be boiling 2 quarts of water in my 6 quart Letang and Remy wide stockpot on the 8 inch burner. The larger burner does have a greater output, but my overall hypothesis is that the wide base of the pan, and a matching heat source will show a more pronounced advantage than the variant compositional makeup of the 2 quart pans. I would even bet that the larger burner and wider pan will best the two quart pans on medium heat.

Aug 06, 2014
randallhank in Cookware

New All-Clad Handles... About Time.

"However, optimum performance for any individual user is almost impossible to determine, or even adequately measure without both honing in on the energy source, and the types of cooking anticipated."

THIS

Aug 06, 2014
randallhank in Cookware

New All-Clad Handles... About Time.

Obviously I meant "big box store," not "box-top."

Jul 31, 2014
randallhank in Cookware

New All-Clad Handles... About Time.

I hear you on the celeb endorsed cookware. It sort of cheapens it. It's like wearing a "pro" glove with a player's signature on the inside. You know the real mlb guys might use very similar, if not the same, glove, but they don't have Roger Clemens' fake signature on the inside.

I relegated my truly awesome Michael Chiarello Signature cookware to the bench in favor of Demeyere, largely because I wanted a larger saute (and a few other shapes), but also perhaps because a part of me cringes every time I grab those handles with Chiarello's name on it. The quality is unquestioned but as someone who has spent significant time in the industry, I just felt like a complete poser every time I picked the stuff up.

Jul 30, 2014
randallhank in Cookware

New All-Clad Handles... About Time.

Yes, SLT exclusive. The handles are nice -- like them better than my Atlantis handles (which I love aesthetically, but don't love the angle).

Jul 30, 2014
randallhank in Cookware

New All-Clad Handles... About Time.

Spot-on analysis here. I would even add that there is more availability of upscale cookware with outfits like BBB selling Demeyere and Sitram online, etc. There are perhaps fewer companies making truly great cookware, but a handfull of upscale brands available at bourgeois box-top stores has to hurt. Also, the proliferation of information changes the game significantly.

Jul 30, 2014
randallhank in Cookware
1

New All-Clad Handles... About Time.

And they are practically giving them away! At $1,400 they leave you plenty of money left over to by the missing saute and a stocker.

Jul 30, 2014
randallhank in Cookware