Published on June 23rd, 2010 | by Greg0
In the Kitchen with All-Clad, Emile Henry, and Lodge Cast Iron
We’ll start with one of the more all-around pieces you can have, a sort of catch-all pan that can work for just about any need. A good large saute pan is an essential item, and in a pinch, can serve a variety of needs, so we turned to All-Clad and their LTD2 collection- specifically the 3-quart Saute Pan with Lid. This premium piece is a bit heavier than some other saute pans we’ve used, but the added weight and heft makes for fantastic even cooking and reduce hot spots (and cold ones). It’s made from 5-ply stainless steel and aluminum, and is hard anodized for durability… but still dishwasher safe for convenience.
The handles are good and solid, and stay cool even when cooking. The pan looks pretty sharp, but the true test is how well is stays clean after cooking a few meals and how it handles with real-world meals. And after a few attempts with various meats and veggies, not to mention some random Asian noodle dishes, we were pretty happy with the nonstick surface, even over higher heat and minimal oil. We did end up with a couple of small scratches, but mostly on the bottom of the pan where it’s cosmetic. You can’t use this set with induction stovetops, but we tested on both electric and gas with no issues (other than we need some new marinade recipes). Lifetime warranty- which is good because at nearly $300, this is one item you’ll use again and again, and want to last. For a great go-to pan, versatile and classy, All-Clad is a great choice, and they offer a wide lineup for those looking for something else (including stainless and copper).
When we last checked in with Emile Henry, we were testing out their Flame Dutch Oven, and were pretty impressed with the durability- an accidental drop didn’t leave a mark. Quite a trick for ceramic cookware. Recently, we’ve been feeling a need for some French comfort food, and decided to step up our cooking a notch- we were aiming to make a cassoulet. The Figue 2.5 Quart Cassoulet Pot seemed like just the thing for our tasty mix of white beans, sausage, bread crumbs and (in our Bay Area fashion) a bit of bacon. Also part of the Flame collection, the Cassoluet come in either Red or Fig color, which they call Figue.
We confess, it does seem a bit much to have a cassoulet pot- and perhaps odd to cook this traditional winter food in summer. But it’s good to be prepared, and despite the odd name and expensive-sounding origin, the dish is actually pretty humble, of peasant origins, and really flexible. It’s also inexpensive to boot, and the pot itself can be used for stews. The slight cone-like shape makes for a nicely browned crust on top, and the dish keeps warm for serving straight from the pot, and is safe in the oven, any stovetop, and even on the grill. It’s beautiful to boot, though a bit difficult to clean. At $150 or so, don’t be afraid of expanding your horizons, and for cassoulet fans, the pot really can make a giant difference.
On the subject of durable cookware, you can’t beat cast iron. It ages well, even if it doesn’t look pretty, and though it can be a bit heavy and require a bit of maintenance, it makes up for the downsides with solid performance. We’ve seen Lodge in a few forms- the cute, if odd, Apple Pot, along with a traditional casserole dish that we still regularly haul out for larger occasions. Now we’ve gone hands on with Lodge’s Logic series 10-1/4 inch skillet, with a tempered glass cover, and have to admit that sometimes modern technology does offer advantages.
With cast iron, you have to remember to avoid harsh detergents (and even soap is to be avoided). Don’t temperature shock your hot pans by sticking them into cold water, as they can warp. Avoid air drying, as pans can rust. And whatever you do, avoid the dishwasher. Plain and simple, we have seen some other pans that offer fewer hassles, though we have to admit that they definitely cost more money. For nostalgia, or simply because they cost an insanely reasonable $47 (including the lid!), the Lodge skillets are old-school (they started making the stuff over 112 years ago).