Investing in quality cookware

Today I bought myself two really nice pieces of equipment - a 10-inch frying pan and an 8-quart pot about 12 inches across. All-Clad copper core for the frying pan, and their MC2 (thick aluminum exterior, stainless interior) for the pot.

This stuff isn’t normally in my price range, but today the frying pan was $5.99 and the pot was $3.99. And I’m glad I went into the thrift shop on the right day. :slight_smile:

They’re both in extremely good condition, though I’m going to have to find a lid for the pot since it came without one.

Now I have to learn to cook well enough for it to matter. :smiley:

Good finds.

Yeah that’s a major score!

Wow! That’s a great deal. For those of us who aren’t that lucky, you can sometimes find good cookware at the overstock stores like TJ Maxx, Home Goods, Tuesday Morning, etc. It won’t be quite that cheap, but you’ll still find some good prices. I’ve also occasionally seen deals on craigslist from people who just want their old cookware gone.

Something else that’s good to have are high quality knives. There’s a slim chance you’ll find them at a thrift store, but you’d certainly need to get them sharpened if you did.

Congratulations! You’ll love them - higher end cookware like All-Clad does perform better than Wal-Mart caliber stuff. It heats up and cools down faster and much more evenly, and is put together better (i.e. it’s not going to ever come apart)

i cook a lot; as in ,cooking & managing a pizzeria, is what i do for a living.

That said…all of my cooking equipment is used. :>)

My oldest “black iron” skillet is a very old (circa 30’s) 14" beauty .


Don’t overlook your local restaurant supply house. They usually beat your local retail stores by a considerable amount.

Compare carefully at the restaurant supply places. They usually don’t have All-Clad level pans - expect industrial grade plain aluminum or stainless steel. All I get there for cookware is fry pans. Heavy aluminum, non-stick, and about twenty bucks for a 10 inch. They do the job well, and when the non-stick surface is eventually damaged, they’re cheap enough to replace without breaking the budget.

It’s all certainly more durable than pretty much anything at Walmart, just nothing fancy.

My impression:

The really good household cookware is built for durability and long-term use.

The restaurant-quality cookware is built to be used hard all day every day, but also economically built to show low prices on the purchase order, and is expected to be thrown away when it’s no longer adequate.

The lowest-quality cookware is built to look like cookware… :slight_smile:

Adding to my previous “impression”: Any cookware with any factory non-stick coating is de facto disposable, regardless of its purpose or its price, because all factory non-stick coatings will fail long before the metal does. (With the insignificant exception of the pan that’s such poor quality that right away the handle falls off or the pan warps etc.)

My favorite piece of cookware lately is a 6 quart enameled cast iron dutch oven. I use it more and more for stovetop cooking. It is big enough for soups and stews, and I can brown the meat and simmer the soup in one pot. It is also great for frying pork chops, steaks or chicken parts because it has high sides which reduce spatter on the stove, making cleanup easier.

Copper Core is a hell of a pan…good job!

I work in a kitchen store on the weekends and it really shows me just how booty all my cookware is. One of these days I’ll be able to afford good stuff…sigh…

2 great pickups for sure. I have a saute pan and skillet from the MC2 line and it’s nice stuff. I’m not sure how tongue in cheek your ‘learn to cook’ comment was, so here are a couple of tips I’ve picked up since making the jump to decent cookware.

  1. Hot pan, cold oil. I pre-heat over a medium flame and then add the oil. You’ll need to find the sweet spot for your stove. When the oil has ‘legs’ you’re ready to go.

  2. When sauteing something like a pork chop or a chicken breast, rather than cooking it 50% and then flipping, try 70%/30%. This way you get very nice browning on one side rather than moderate to non-existent browning on both sides.

  3. Deglazing to make a pan sauce will make cleanup very easy. If you’re not making a pan sauce, deglaze with water anyway. Any stuck on bits will release easily with a spatula unless you really screwed up. My stainless pans clean up much easier than I had expected them to.

Even junk cookware usually costs more than $5.99. What a steal! Where did you get it, or is that a secret?

In addition to being good places to buy cookware, restaurant supply stores are fun places to look around. There’s one that I go to that has stand mixers with bowls big enough to take a bath in, and whisks that are big enough to shoulder like a rifle.

The cookware I’d rescue from a burning building: a 24cm Le Creuset enameled casserole (from a 2nds outlet) and a couple of carbon steel 6" frying pans (a few quid from a catering supplier). Oh, and the generic potato peeler I filched from an old landlord.

So actually, given how likely the former would be to survive the blaze, maybe I’d just pocket the peeler and leg it. I shit thee not, this peeler is perfect.


I’ve given up on fancy frying pans and saucepans, and the Le Creuset - unless I can decide which child will inherit it - goes with me to the grave.

I was under the impression that “sauté” means “to jump around”, so in a culinary sense it means - in essence - to toss or to stir fry.

Otherwise…well, that’s just frying, isn’t it?

Heh. As I was reading your reply, I was thinking “what do you mean save from a burning building? It’ll be fine. Let the building burn down and pick it up later!” And then your next paragraph. :slight_smile:

I’m the same with my Staubs. I didn’t buy them (and hadn’t even heard of them before I got them), but my brother and mother went halvsies in for two Staub dutch ovens for me for a Christmas about ten to fifteen years ago, and that’s seriously been the best Christmas present I’ve ever received. I use the damned things several times a week (used two of them today, even), and they will last pretty much forever.

Never heard of them either. But it sounds like - the particular iron foundry aside - we’re singing from a very similar hymnsheet. Le Creuset are pretty well known on these shores (no idea how they’re received internationally) but there’s no way I’d have forked out for a full price one. Found a seconds outlet: happy days (and I’ve never worked out what’s supposedly wrong with it). Now I know though, I’d probably pay double if I had to. Would absolutely not be without it.

Sorry, I’m not a pro. I meant frying in just enough oil to cover the pan. As opposed to something fried in 1/2 inch of oil or deep fried.

“Sauté” means to cook over high heat with minimal fat. It’s a type of frying. The “jump” meaning may have originally referred to the technique of tossing food in the pan, or it may have referred to the tendency of small pieces of food to jump around when suddenly exposed to high heat (I’ve seen chopped onion do this).