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Ilaine
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Just bought my first saute pan at TJ Maxx, a 4 qt. All-Clad LTD, marked down from $260 to $99, and trying to decide whether to keep it or not.

After all, I've been cooking for 40 years without one.

What can I do with a stainless steel high sided saute pan that I can't do with a cast iron skillet, a high sided cast iron fryer, a non-stick Calphalon skillet, and an assortment of Le Creuset and wannabee Dutch and French ovens (from 1 qt. to 6 qt.)? Not to mention an assortment of sauce pots and stock pots (from 1 qt. to 20 qt.), none of which are All-Clad but the larger ones Costco imitation All-Clad, metal sandwich on the bottom but not up the sides, and the smaller ones Chantal.

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Just bought my first saute pan at TJ Maxx, a 4 qt. All-Clad LTD, marked down from $260 to $99, and trying to decide whether to keep it or not.

After all, I've been cooking for 40 years without one.

What can I do with a stainless steel high sided saute pan that I can't do with a cast iron skillet, a high sided cast iron fryer, a non-stick Calphalon skillet, and an assortment of Le Creuset and wannabee Dutch and French ovens (from 1 qt. to 6 qt.)? Not to mention an assortment of sauce pots and stock pots (from 1 qt. to 20 qt.), none of which are All-Clad but the larger ones Costco imitation All-Clad, metal sandwich on the bottom but not up the sides, and the smaller ones Chantal.

I also have all manner of other pots and pans, but find that my All-Clad stainless sauté pan is perfect for sauteeing mushrooms, and for making risotto, it is incomparable. As a general rule, I use my cast iron for frying, making pancakes and grilled cheese sandwiches, and for other uses that don't involve a lot of liquid. For pan reduction sauces, the All-Clad is great. As I gradually accumulated a few All Clad pots, I pretty much stopped using my Calphalons altogether. $99 is a great price for that pan.

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Just bought my first saute pan at TJ Maxx, a 4 qt. All-Clad LTD, marked down from $260 to $99, and trying to decide whether to keep it or not.

After all, I've been cooking for 40 years without one.

What can I do with a stainless steel high sided saute pan that I can't do with a cast iron skillet, a high sided cast iron fryer, a non-stick Calphalon skillet, and an assortment of Le Creuset and wannabee Dutch and French ovens (from 1 qt. to 6 qt.)? Not to mention an assortment of sauce pots and stock pots (from 1 qt. to 20 qt.), none of which are All-Clad but the larger ones Costco imitation All-Clad, metal sandwich on the bottom but not up the sides, and the smaller ones Chantal.

If you ask the question that way, get rid of it. Most of us could throw most of our pots and pans away and the food would taste just as good. Aside from the fact that you sometimes need to have an unseemly amount of cookware in service at once (especially if you just throw the leftovers in the original pot in the fridge), you don't need 80 percent of the shit you have stacked in the kitchen. Escoffier cooked on a wood-burning stove, without a Robot-coupe. For that matter, Magaret Bourke-white to amazing photgraphs with a camera less sophisticated than the one most people have on their cell phones. Equipment is a fetish these days.

You have no need for that skillet. But if you like it, keep it -- what the hell. There's a modest joy in picking out just the right vessel for the job, even if you could do the job with a slightly less "perfect" pan. Just be sure that you never buy into the notion that better pans make you a better cook.

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Escoffier cooked on a wood-burning stove, without a Robot-coupe.

I have also cooked on a wood-burning stove, in a house without electricity, and only a hand pump for water. I lived like that for two years. (We built the house ourselves right after we got married, made out of logs from trees that we cut down on land we owned in Southern Vermont.) I chose to live that way, but only for a brief time. I know how to cook with just a knife and an open fire, too. I can do it again, if I need to, but I much prefer preparing meals everyday with my gas burners and my Vitamix blender available. Escoffier didn't have a choice in the matter. Do you seriously think that he wouldn't have used a gas stove or a Robot-coupe, if they had been available to him? The man was a great chef, not a Luddite. Actually, the wood-and coal-burning cast iron stove was a great improvement over cooking in an open fireplace. Paul Bocuse and Julia Child have written about this subject of adapting to new inventions and modernizing methodologies--they were trained before the Robot-coupe was invented, and both embraced it enthusiastically as soon as it was introduced, as did every other professional chef. Yes, it is possible to create great food without expensive equipment, but at what cost in time and effort? Escoffier no doubt had a small army of sous chefs and apprentices to do the prep work involved in creating his dishes, which we modern solo home cooks lack. And as regards considering an All-Clad pan an indulgence, when any number of cheaper pans we already may own will suffice--Escoffier is likely to have had a battery of extraordinarily heavy copper pots and pans with thick bottoms that would cost a bleeding fortune in today's world. A triple-layered All-Clad is the closest, affordable almost-equivalent.

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I have also cooked on a wood-burning stove, in a house without electricity, and only a hand pump for water. I lived like that for two years. (We built the house ourselves right after we got married, made out of logs from trees that we cut down on land we owned in Southern Vermont.)
Big deal, I lived as a hunter-gatherer in Rock creek for 4 years after college. If you ever saw a dirty 20 something wearing a loin cloth dart across Military late at night, but convinced yourself it was just a deer, that was probably me. I was making souffles in animal bladders over a woodfire with rudimentary tools made out of deer bones and pieces of an abandoned road bike I found one time. If you need some fancy-schmancy all clad I say you are an amateur.
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Having purchased this pan two years ago, I can quickly say that it is my fav to cook with and that it was also the most expensive pan I have ever bought. If someone was to steal all my pans, I would be buying this one first as my go to all purpose pan. The price is good (I paid 125 for mine).

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I have also cooked on a wood-burning stove, in a house without electricity, and only a hand pump for water. I lived like that for two years. (We built the house ourselves right after we got married, made out of logs from trees that we cut down on land we owned in Southern Vermont.) I chose to live that way, but only for a brief time. I know how to cook with just a knife and an open fire, too. I can do it again, if I need to, but I much prefer preparing meals everyday with my gas burners and my Vitamix blender available. Escoffier didn't have a choice in the matter. Do you seriously think that he wouldn't have used a gas stove or a Robot-coupe, if they had been available to him? The man was a great chef, not a Luddite. Actually, the wood-and coal-burning cast iron stove was a great improvement over cooking in an open fireplace. Paul Bocuse and Julia Child have written about this subject of adapting to new inventions and modernizing methodologies--they were trained before the Robot-coupe was invented, and both embraced it enthusiastically as soon as it was introduced, as did every other professional chef. Yes, it is possible to create great food without expensive equipment, but at what cost in time and effort? Escoffier no doubt had a small army of sous chefs and apprentices to do the prep work involved in creating his dishes, which we modern solo home cooks lack. And as regards considering an All-Clad pan an indulgence, when any number of cheaper pans we already may own will suffice--Escoffier is likely to have had a battery of extraordinarly heavy copper pots and pans with thick bottoms that would cost a bleeding fortune in today's world. A triple-layered All-Clad is the closest, affordable almost-equivalent.

I'm not advocating going back to wood-burning -- I am no luddite and treaure my electric ice cream maker. I'm just suggesting that, while (generally speaking) good equipment is nice and it would be great to have a tricked out kitchen with every conceivable pot, pan, knife and machine, we don't need it and there is a significant diminishing return to the improvement in your cooking versus investment in your equipment after a certain point. Your move from wood to gas was a big deal. Trading in GE for Viking would be less so, I'll wager.

If you've been cooking 40 years without a sautee pan, buying one isn't going to make you a better cook. But it might be convenient -- it might even become your go-to pan, as it is for Scott. It might be nice to hang on the wall. So, if you're buying it it for the convenience (or the cool factor) get it. If you expect great things, spend the money on something else.

(I hate all-clad btw and absolutely don't believe that copper sandwiched in aluminum is a particualrly good substitute for anything, much less a copper pot, but that's a different thread).

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Big deal, I lived as a hunter-gatherer in Rock creek for 4 years after college. If you ever saw a dirty 20 something wearing a loin cloth dart across Military late at night, but convinced yourself it was just a deer, that was probably me. I was making souffles in animal bladders over a woodfire with rudimentary tools made out of deer bones and pieces of an abandoned road bike I found one time. If you need some fancy-schmancy all clad I say you are an amateur.

No I know what happened to the cat!

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I'm not advocating going back to wood-burning -- I am no luddite and treaure my electric ice cream maker. I'm just suggesting that, while (generally speaking) good equipment is nice and it would be great to have a tricked out kitchen with every conceivable pot, pan, knife and machine, we don't need it and there is a significant diminishing return to the improvement in your cooking versus investment in your equipment after a certain point. Your move from wood to gas was a big deal. Trading in GE for Viking would be less so, I'll wager.

If you've been cooking 40 years without a sautee pan, buying one isn't going to make you a better cook. But it might be convenient -- it might even become your go-to pan, as it is for Scott. It might be nice to hang on the wall. So, if you're buying it it for the convenience (or the cool factor) get it. If you expect great things, spend the money on something else.

(I hate all-clad btw and absolutely don't believe that copper sandwiched in aluminum is a particualrly good substitute for anything, much less a copper pot, but that's a different thread).

1)Actually a restaurant range, like a Viking or Wolf, is something I have craved forever. The btu's those mamas can crank out could leave a GE or my Thermidor in the dust. I still hope to live in a house with a kitchen big enough for one some day. A good saute pan is one thing, but a burner hot enough to actually saute or sear is another order of magnitude. Frying was much easier on a wood stove, actually. I'd remove one of the lids directly above the firebox, set a cast iron pan into the open hole and build a hot fast fire. Grilling was possible like that too, but since there was no smoke vent, I'd avoid it in winter when I couldn't open windows to let out the smoke.

2)I didn't get an expectation of great things from the post that started this discussion, but I'm curious. What else would you spend $99 on, if you were expecting great things in the kitchen?

3)This explains the aura of contempt that was emanating from your earlier remarks. What is so hateful about All-Clad, then, and what line of cookware are you currently endorsing, and why?

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1) I've had your cooking. Sure, we'd all like a Viking but you're doing OK without it. ;)

2) I'd buy something for a memorable meal for $99 expecting great things. Maybe a truffle. Or a bottle of right bank bordeaux, maybe some dry-aged organic beef and consume the one or the other with good friends. If I was expecting an incremental improvement in convenience -- or just found myself running short of pans on occasion - I'd get the sautee pan.

3) I think all-clad pretends to be hot stuff but 1) is the stickiest stuff ever and is rotten for pan-roasting meat 2)Is too thin to be as cool as they say it is is 3) and is marketing a gimmick with its little copper sandwich thing (my high school physics taught me that there's tremendous loss of efficiency when heat crosses from one metal to another, which it does twice with All-clad), and that if you're cooking with aluminum anyway you'd get better results for less with Caphalon or whatever heavy aluminum you can pick up at a commercial cookware store.

But the brand was inconsequential. I just didn't think adding another pan to the arsenal was going to add much incremental quality to the cooking, but as I said "But if you like it, keep it -- what the hell. There's a modest joy in picking out just the right vessel for the job, even if you could do the job with a slightly less "perfect" pan." I've been meaning to get one myself for the last decade or so. I think it will improve the arc of my vegetables when I do that little flippy thing while sauteeing.

The crankiness in my original post, btw, was aimed not Ilaine -- who apparently cooks well without a sutee pan and had an eye for a bargain -- or even at All-Clad, but at the marketing messaging that in this and other areas attempts to convince you that one purchase will change your life. I apologize.

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My first purchase when I win the lottery (although it would probably help my odds if I bought tickets....) is a huge viking range but it has to have a commercial size hood. That is very important because having lived in apartments so long, I am tired of having to eat in dense smoke everytime I need to sear or stir fry something. I really think that the jump to Viking is a big one but I guess that depends on what model you currently have. I definitely want the built in grill (again as long as it has a large hood!)

And if we are talking appliances you would spend 99 for I definitely have to say coffee grinder (although I would even go higher than 99) A quality conical burr grinder makes such a difference and it is probably the only appliance/cookware item that I use every single day.

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If you ask the question that way, get rid of it. Most of us could throw most of our pots and pans away and the food would taste just as good. Aside from the fact that you sometimes need to have an unseemly amount of cookware in service at once (especially if you just throw the leftovers in the original pot in the fridge), you don't need 80 percent of the shit you have stacked in the kitchen. Escoffier cooked on a wood-burning stove, without a Robot-coupe. For that matter, Magaret Bourke-white to amazing photgraphs with a camera less sophisticated than the one most people have on their cell phones. Equipment is a fetish these days.
Was that you hiking into the wilderness with a throng of Boy Scouts, helping them earn their "Wilderness Survival" merit badges? Cooking equipment consisting only of a half dozen Sara Lee pie tins, a rusty hatchet, and a copy of the French Laundry cookbook? Now that is character building.
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3) I think all-clad pretends to be hot stuff but 1) is the stickiest stuff ever and is rotten for pan-roasting meat 2)Is too thin to be as cool as they say it is is 3) and is marketing a gimmick with its little copper sandwich thing (my high school physics taught me that there's tremendous loss of efficiency when heat crosses from one metal to another, which it does twice with All-clad), and that if you're cooking with aluminum anyway you'd get better results for less with Caphalon or whatever heavy aluminum you can pick up at a commercial cookware store.

I've never found it particularly sticky, and I think it holds and distributes heat very well. My problem with my AllClads is that the handle is too damn narrow and rounded. If you're pulling a full pan off the stove with a slippery hand, the slightest shift in weight means it can turn in your grip. Gimme a bigger handle with more grippiness.

You got a really nice pan for a great price. Why get rid of it? Make yourself something that benefits by a good dose of fond, and deglaze your ass off!

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...I think all-clad pretends to be hot stuff but 1) is the stickiest stuff ever and is rotten for pan-roasting meat 2)Is too thin to be as cool as they say it is is 3) and is marketing a gimmick with its little copper sandwich thing...

Actually, All-clad, at least the LTD line in question as well as the regular stainless, is not sandwiched copper but sandwiched aluminium. Like Al, I also have never had sticking problems and find that the cookware is excellent for pan-roasting. I suspect you're just not cleaning it thoroughly, in which case it would be sticky--but then that's true for any non-coated cookware (with the exception of properly seasoned cast iron, etc.). That's why I always reach for my All-clad (or copper) and avoid the Calphalon when I can: The Calphalon is harder to clean and therefore more likely to end up being sticky.

ETA: Among the pans I would not want to do without, is the straight-sided sauteuse in question. There are many other pans that I think are more deserving of Waitman's contempt, e.g., "wok" pans, dinky promotional skillets and pots, etc. But for chicken fricassee or other low-liquid braises, a sauteuse is hard to beat.

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Actually, All-clad, at least the LTD line in question as well as the regular stainless, is not sandwiched copper but sandwiched aluminium. Like Al, I also have never had sticking problems and find that the cookware is excellent for pan-roasting. I suspect you're just not cleaning it thoroughly, in which case it would be sticky--but then that's true for any non-coated cookware (with the exception of properly seasoned cast iron, etc.). That's why I always reach for my All-clad (or copper) and avoid the Calphalon when I can: The Calphalon is harder to clean and therefore more likely to end up being sticky.

As a former professional, I can assure that my dishwashing habits are impeccable. ;) Stainless is just a crappy substance to cook on. You will never, on this earth, find a professional kitchen that cooks anything aside from the occasional sauce on stainless steel.

Sandwiched aluminum is even weaker than sandwiched copper.

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As a former professional, I can assure that my dishwashing habits are impeccable. ;) Stainless is just a crappy substance to cook on. You will never, on this earth, find a professional kitchen that cooks anything aside from the occasional sauce on stainless steel.

That's because a professional kitchen has a team of your former colleagues to keep their equipment clean. For the home cook, stainless takes less effort to keep in shape, which is why, all in all, many home cooks find it a superior surface for a variety of tasks.

You're also overreaching anyway with your notion of stainless being practically non-existent in professional kitchens. Although aluminium does predominate, I think it's fairly certain that the majority of copper pans in use in professional kitchens around the world are no longer lined with tin but with stainless, and they're not just used for the occasional sauce.

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That's because a professional kitchen has a team of your former colleagues to keep their equipment clean. For the home cook, stainless takes less effort to keep in shape, which is why, all in all, many home cooks find it a superior surface for a variety of tasks.

Stainless is the triumph of form over substance. When I worked at Williams Sonoma, people used to fret over the need to keep copper and aluminum clean and I always wanted to ask: "you cooking with this stuff, or are you decorating with it?"

We're straying far from topic here, but I would posit that - while it may be easier to clean stainless than anodized aluminum or tin-lined copper when all you've done is sautee a few broccoli florets in olive oil -- the effort involved in chiseling pork chop off stainless after the two substances decided to bond forever far exceeds that needed to clean up after cooking the same chop in cast iron or Caphalon.

Anyways, to each his own.

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Anyways, to each his own.

Agreed, and of course it was only a matter of time before the aesthetic obsession that leads some to prefer stainless arose, but I was referring only to its easier maintenance as a cooking surface. More to the point, I just don't get why you have to chisel a chop off of stainless, when I (and others) have not had that problem. That's what made me bring up the cleanliness issue.

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3)This explains the aura of contempt that was emanating from your earlier remarks. What is so hateful about All-Clad, then, and what line of cookware are you currently endorsing, and why?
I am hesitant to wade into the fray but here goes, I also despise the one AC saute pan that we own. Everything sticks even a grilled cheese sandwich! It's pretty though (probably because we don't use it so it's not as grungy as the rest of our cookware).

We don't really have a line of cookware. We have a selection of heirloom (my grandmother's) cast iron that is used daily, le crueset that are used bi-weekly, cruddy but useful no name (well at least that I know) non-stick that we beat up and replace annually, some Caphalon from a set we got 20 years ago that are de-annodized, a copper saute pan and a restaurant saute pan. We also have an aluminum pot that we take backpacking because it's light (but it's really shitty). The thought of our having matching pots is laughable beyond all belief ;)

I would like to add that even though Waitman is as much of a crank as he sounds, he's not an entitled asshole and quite nice in person (though I admit to being somewhat biased) :(

On topic, keep the pan.

Agreed, and of course it was only a matter of time before the aesthetic obsession that leads some to prefer stainless arose, but I was referring only to its easier maintenance as a cooking surface. More to the point, I just don't get why you have to chisel a chop off of stainless, when I (and others) have not had that problem. That's what made me bring up the cleanliness issue.

Fair point that. :)

Things stuck from first use. I considered the cleanliness and even with thorough attention. Stickity Stick Stick Stick.

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I'd absolutely keep the pan, and $99 is a great price. We have a 14" straight-sided sauteuse and use it more than any other. The cast iron is fantastic for a lot of things but I don't do acidic pan sauces in it and the sauteuse with lid is better for pan braising. The rest of our collection looks remarkably like Waitman and Mrs. B's - deanodized Calphalon, cast iron from my grandmother, nonstick from Costco that doesn't get replaced often enough...

If Waitman wants to get his knickers in a bunch about marketing then I suggest aiming fire at Calphalon. We got a set as a wedding present, and have spent the last ten years slowly replacing each piece. It's useless. Everything sticks to it, the finish comes off, and a dark pan makes it hard to monitor the fond.

ETA sticking happens when there's not enough fat in the pan. Or when we heat the fat in the pan, instead of heating the pan and then adding it.

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I suggest aiming fire at Calphalon. We got a set as a wedding present, and have spent the last ten years slowly replacing each piece. It's useless. Everything sticks to it, the finish comes off, and a dark pan makes it hard to monitor the fond.

ETA sticking happens when there's not enough fat in the pan. Or when we heat the fat in the pan, instead of heating the pan and then adding it.

Exactly! And the rivets on my Calph 10" skillet are also coming loose (13 years old, but still).

Heating the pan before adding fat, then heating the fat, will help prevent food from sticking in any pan, even in one of Waitman's dirty ones ;) . Or maybe the issue is also electric versus gas heat?

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For those of you who love your Calphalon anodized--and I was among you for many, many years. They will make good on their "lifetime guarantee." Send the worn pots to them and they will replace them for free. I sent them two saucepans and a dutch oven that were worn down to the shiny aluminum after about twenty years of use, and they sent me new ones. Those now rarely get used, since I much prefer my All-Clads, which now get daily use in the same way that the old Calphalons did. So far, about eight years on, they still look and work great. I do have a couple of non-stick skillets that I use and replace every couple of years, in addition.

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I'd absolutely keep the pan, and $99 is a great price. We have a 14" straight-sided sauteuse and use it more than any other. The cast iron is fantastic for a lot of things but I don't do acidic pan sauces in it and the sauteuse with lid is better for pan braising. The rest of our collection looks remarkably like Waitman and Mrs. B's - deanodized Calphalon, cast iron from my grandmother, nonstick from Costco that doesn't get replaced often enough...

If Waitman wants to get his knickers in a bunch about marketing then I suggest aiming fire at Calphalon. We got a set as a wedding present, and have spent the last ten years slowly replacing each piece. It's useless. Everything sticks to it, the finish comes off, and a dark pan makes it hard to monitor the fond.

ETA sticking happens when there's not enough fat in the pan. Or when we heat the fat in the pan, instead of heating the pan and then adding it.

Ummmm....I know how to bring fat and fire together, as well as how to wash a pot, thank you. It's condescension that gets my knickers in a bunch, as well as marketing. ;)

The one thing I do like my single remaining All-clad product for is making sauces, since it's easier to see what's going on inside one of those shiny happy pots than the dark recesses of other styles, and the non-reactive surface works and plays with tomato and lemon better than other surfaces.

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Ummmm....I know how to bring fat and fire together, as well as how to wash a pot, thank you. It's condescension that gets my knickers in a bunch, as well as marketing. ;)
Not impugning your skills, merely commenting on my experience. The All-Clad is much less forgiving when I forget the rules.

We've had the "chiseling stuff off" experience too, and you know everything in my house is scrupulously clean. :)

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I thought I was the only one who found that modern "non-stick" worked fine, so long as

the first thing in the pan was "a lump of butter such as your thumb".

I learned my klutz cooking using hand-me-down cast iron and some RevereWare pots from

who knows where, so I'm a little fearful of the special care needed for the "good stuff".

(my local sheriff had made me promise to be very, very careful).

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1)Actually a restaurant range, like a Viking or Wolf, is something I have craved forever. The btu's those mamas can crank out could leave a GE or my Thermidor in the dust. I still hope to live in a house with a kitchen big enough for one some day. A good saute pan is one thing, but a burner hot enough to actually saute or sear is another order of magnitude. Frying was much easier on a wood stove, actually. I'd remove one of the lids directly above the firebox, set a cast iron pan into the open hole and build a hot fast fire. Grilling was possible like that too, but since there was no smoke vent, I'd avoid it in winter when I couldn't open windows to let out the smoke.
I really, really wish that we had just plain old gas! All we have here is electric. I've contacted the local gas company to ask about the cost of running a gas line down our street several times and never even got a response.

Restaurant grade BTUs? I would feel like I died and went to heaven.

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So, if you're buying it it for the convenience (or the cool factor) get it. If you expect great things, spend the money on something else.
Next month I am making a pilgrimage to the site of my first apartment, carrying with me my first cast-iron skillet and an oak dining room chair that I, er, um, ah, took with me when I moved out almost 40 years ago. I will undertake a title search to see if I can find the heirs of the old lady that owned the place, but regardless, I can't keep them any longer, they don't belong to me and I need to make reparations somehow.

It's a small thing but it eats at me, and I want closure.

So, starting over, I find that nothing in my batterie de cuisine comes close, not even my Lodge cast iron skillets, paid for honestly by the fruits of my labor and the sweat of my brow. For reasons perhaps only a physical chemist could explain, nothing compares.

But all things come to an end, and it's not my frying pan, so I am kissing it goodbye. "It" being the lovely cast iron skillet that could be a hundred years old, for all I know.

And the thought of abandoning it on a sidewalk, unloved, also eats at me.

This is why I tell people to always do the right thing the first time, it's much easier that way.

If I can't find the "real" owner I will try to find a good home for it.

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Next month I am making a pilgrimage to the site of my first apartment, carrying with me my first cast-iron skillet and an oak dining room chair that I, er, um, ah, took with me when I moved out almost 40 years ago. I will undertake a title search to see if I can find the heirs of the old lady that owned the place, but regardless, I can't keep them any longer, they don't belong to me and I need to make reparations somehow.

It's a small thing but it eats at me, and I want closure.

So, starting over, I find that nothing in my batterie de cuisine comes close, not even my Lodge cast iron skillets, paid for honestly by the fruits of my labor and the sweat of my brow. For reasons perhaps only a physical chemist could explain, nothing compares.

But all things come to an end, and it's not my frying pan, so I am kissing it goodbye. "It" being the lovely cast iron skillet that could be a hundred years old, for all I know.

And the thought of abandoning it on a sidewalk, unloved, also eats at me.

This is why I tell people to always do the right thing the first time, it's much easier that way.

If I can't find the "real" owner I will try to find a good home for it.

I have a cast iron skillet that came from the first NYC apartment I had, but it was simply left by the previous resident so I need have no qualms about keeping it. Good thing too because it is a great pan--I intend never to part with it until I pass it along to my daughter who, thank goodness, is turning out to be a fine cook.

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Next month I am making a pilgrimage to the site of my first apartment, carrying with me my first cast-iron skillet and an oak dining room chair that I, er, um, ah, took with me when I moved out almost 40 years ago. I will undertake a title search to see if I can find the heirs of the old lady that owned the place, but regardless, I can't keep them any longer, they don't belong to me and I need to make reparations somehow.

It's a small thing but it eats at me, and I want closure.

So, starting over, I find that nothing in my batterie de cuisine comes close, not even my Lodge cast iron skillets, paid for honestly by the fruits of my labor and the sweat of my brow. For reasons perhaps only a physical chemist could explain, nothing compares.

But all things come to an end, and it's not my frying pan, so I am kissing it goodbye. "It" being the lovely cast iron skillet that could be a hundred years old, for all I know.

And the thought of abandoning it on a sidewalk, unloved, also eats at me.

This is why I tell people to always do the right thing the first time, it's much easier that way.

If I can't find the "real" owner I will try to find a good home for it.

Or keep the skillet in memory of the apartment and the old lady and what it's been in your household for four decades, and accept the karmic debt to pass it -- or something else equaly quotidian and profound -- on to another person like you were 40 years ago, when the time comes. As it will.

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I really, really wish that we had just plain old gas! All we have here is electric. I've contacted the local gas company to ask about the cost of running a gas line down our street several times and never even got a response.

The same problem led us to installing a propane tank for the sole purpose of fueling the cooktop. Now it also fuels the generator. Yes, I'm a geek. If you're really lucky maybe some random rich idiot with more money than taste will build a mcmansion around the corner from you and petition/pay off the gas company to run a line down the street. ;) Not that I'm bitter or anything.

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You've probably made up your mind...

I wanted to add that the sauté pan is great to cook various cuts of chicken, pork, or lamb on a stovetop, then finish in the oven. This is especially true if incorporating other ingredients into the dish such as carrots, celery, garlic, onions, and herbs/spices.

For St. Patrick's Day 2008, I used my sauté pan to "finish" my corned beef -- that is, I pulled it from the oven, transferred to the sauté pan, and made final preparations on the stovetop.

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The same problem led us to installing a propane tank for the sole purpose of fueling the cooktop. Now it also fuels the generator. Yes, I'm a geek. If you're really lucky maybe some random rich idiot with more money than taste will build a mcmansion around the corner from you and petition/pay off the gas company to run a line down the street. ;) Not that I'm bitter or anything.
We have the McMansions down the street, amazed they don't have gas.

On second thought . . . . nah, not amazing at all, is it?

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We have the McMansions down the street, amazed they don't have gas.

On second thought . . . . nah, not amazing at all, is it?

Z's moneyed-class-in-DC-area corollary: the more expensive and well appointed the kitchen is, the less actual cooking happens in it. That's also true in L.A., of course.

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