Don’t look at your cookware like your dinnerware. It doesn’t have to be all matchy-matchy and look perfect together. Your cookware should be functional and meet the needs of how you cook. Though starting with a core set is the right first step, you should build upon those basic pieces. Different surfaces and types of construction are each actually meant to handle different tasks in your kitchen. Using the right pan for the job will offer better cooking results.
Keep in mind…
Not all manufacturers and retailers package their sets the same or shall we say, not all cookware sets are created equal. In fact, individual retailers generally select the pieces in their sets, making the combination of pans exclusive to their store, so comparison shopping can be challenging. Pans may vary in size within the sets as well. You might find a 7 piece set of All Clad available in two different stores, but one may include a 6 quart stock pot in their set, while another may offer a 7 quart. You also need to count the lids in the total number of pieces. A seven piece set might include three pots with lids and one open fry pan (no lid), which equals 7 total pieces.
Your first step will be to select your core cookware line. All Clad is a tried a true professional line that offers many exterior finishes with one that is sure to suit your taste. I purchased my first All Clad pan back in the early nineties and it’s still beautiful. There are a number of professional quality lines available, Mauviel and Calphalon are other good choices. Shop around and see what looks and feels (yes, you have to hold it) good to you.
Professional Quality Cookware will have the following characteristics:
- HEAVY WEIGHTED. So it won’t warp, it will hold its shape and sit safely on your stove top. You don’t want light-weight cookware.
- FULLY RIVETED HANDLES. Handles secured through the pan, not screwed on, or worst yet, welded on the outside of the pan. Imagine your pan’s handle snapping off as you take it out of the oven! Ouch! They could potentially loosen and/or come off over time if they’re not riveted through.
- VERSATILE. Look for pans that are safe in your oven as well as on your stove top. Many of the most delicious recipes call for a dish to begin on the stove and finish off in the oven. Professional quality pans can handle the highest oven temperatures. Most can be placed under the broiler. Both non-stick and tin-lined copper are generally not safe for the broiler. Read the packaging, these details are always included.
- HIGHLY CONDUCTIBLE. The best quality pans are made of highly conductible metals which run through the entire pan… meaning even up the sides, not just on the bottom. It may be sandwiched between other metals or even constructed with layers of different metals, like copper and aluminum. Pans constructed with highly conductible metals will heat up more efficiently, maintain temperatures better, eliminate hot spots and overall perform better in your kitchen.
Does anyone out there have an induction range? If so, you need to be very careful selecting your cookware. Many will not work on induction. All Clad Stainless, Viking and Demeyere cookware can be used on induction. Be sure to confirm before you buy, I’m sure there are a few others.