Saturday, January 9, 2010

Reggie's Five Favorites: Cookware

The is the inaugural posting in my "Reggie's Five Favorites" series in which I share with you from time to time, Gentle Reader, selections of what I consider to be my top favorites in a particular category. As outlined in the December 12th posting in which I introduced the series, these favorites will be culled from the many and far-ranging categories that I think will be of some interest to those who read this blog.  Categories covered may include such things as books, ceramics, hats, films, household objects, tools, music, and more . . .

Today's posting focuses on cookware used on the stove-top or in the oven.  I thought this would be a good place to start at this time of year when many of us are particularly focused on the pleasures of hearth and home. Boy and I both enjoy cooking, particularly when we are at Darlington, and one of the pleasures we take in it is having a well-considered collection of good quality pots and pans. Over the years we’ve assembled a core group of cookware where the common theme is utility, heft, good design, performance, and pleasure of use.

Here are Reggie's Five Favorites:

1. All-Clad Stainless
At the top of my list is our collection of stainless steel pots, pans, and roasters manufactured by All-Clad Metalcrafters. I love them because they are versatile, durable, attractive, and a snap to clean.

2. Le Crueset Dutch Ovens
The grand-daddy of enameled cast-iron dutch ovens or casseroles, we have one in almost every size, all in the iconic “Flame” orange enamel--the only color worth having as far as I’m concerned. These are perfect for making stews and soups, and for braising.

3. Cast-Iron Skillets
Often relegated to the back of the cupboard in today’s kitchens, if even there. I have cast-iron skillets, in several sizes, that I regularly use when high-heat searing or frying is called for. They are easily picked up at tag sales and junk shops.  The trick to prevent rusting is to season and maintain them with a light wipe of vegetable oil after each use.

4. Antique Copper Pots
Not only are they beautiful to look at, but they are a marvelous conductor of heat as well. Despite the infrequent bother of having them re-tinned when needed, the joys of owning and using antique copper pots far surpasses the modest maintenance they require.

5. Old-fashioned Lobster Pot
Found in the kitchen of every seaside cottage, these inexpensive spatter-enameled 4-6 gallon warhorses are a joy to boil up a mess of lobsters on a summer’s afternoon.

So, now that you know what my favorites are, what are yours?

All photos by Boy Fenwick


  1. REGGIE-

    Most useful and fascinating post.

    I'm guessing these beautiful photos--so well styled and lit--were taken by you! Do tell...and do give yourself credit. They are delicious.

    cheers, DIANE

  2. All Clad and La Crueset (ours is turquoise - guess who picked it out?) are two for sure. Even though I do the most cooking, I do the least inspired cooking. I'm better at standing by with a glass of wine.

  3. Stainless (I'm not as particular about All Clad), LC, my antique copper (and I even like to polish), my stock pots, Apilco lions head bowls

  4. Do tea kettles count?

    I was gifted with a Simplex Copper Whistling Tea Kettle last Christmas and have used it every day since for morning and afternoon tea (when I am home for the latter). The copper conducts heat very quickly, and the whistle doesn't screech. It's a thing of beauty.

  5. With you on all but the copper pots. Would substitute in a non-stick omelette pan. I suppose if they made 8-inch cast irons with rounded sides that could do. But I have never seen it. Copper pots are beautiful, but a girl's gotta eat.

  6. the same as your #1 & 2 - i've built up a collection of the stainless all-clad with a le cruset dutch oven (which I love) and my grandmother's cast iron roasting pot (which I just used tonight to make a chicken roast with grapefruit -yummy).
    Hope your pots and pans are providing you with a lot of comfort season this winter!

  7. would you prefer the round or the oval le creusets? also, which quart size do you find you use most, say a person could only have, ok, afford :( two, which two quart sizes would you pick?

  8. Style Saloniste: Thanks, I'm enjoying playing with my new camera, a Canon Rebel.

    LPC: My non-stick fry pan gets heavy use, too, part of the All-Clad army at Darlington. As far as polishing copper pots goes, try rubbing them with a lemon wedge dredged in salt (instead of using a noxious chemical polish) and you'll be amazed how easy it is to keep them shiny.

    Anon: Depends on how many you are cooking for, but for the two of us we mostly use the 2 quart and 4 quart LCs. I prefer the round ones for our purposes, but think it's more of an issue of aesthetics than anything else.

    Question: Does anyone regularly use a slow-cooker? I bought one several years ago (All-Clad), used it once, and it has sat on the shelf in my pantry unusued ever since.

  9. Style Saloniste: Boy is actually responsible for most of the still lifes on my blog, he's a much better photographer than I am.

    VoiceTalk: Simplex is our hot water kettle of choice, ours is in stainless. Love the way it looks and the whistle on it, too, as you do.

  10. Reggie -- I think I would add sheet pans to the list -- they are a "workhorse" in my kitchen - from roasting vegetables to baking sweet treats to being the "under" for pies and cakes so the oven stays clean!

  11. Reggie -

    My tiny (Manhattan) kitchen is sporting 4 out of your 5 - I've been meaning to start a copper collection and you've inspired me to start looking. Any good sources in NYC - I was thinking of checking the Chelsea Garage.

  12. Martha: I agree sheet pans are most useful, but for the purposes of this posting I categorized them as bake-ware. We use them for roasting, too, and find them invaluable in general.

    CBD: Chelsea Garage might be a good place to start looking for copper pots. We've bought most of ours in group shops upstate. Best values are to be found in pots that require re-tinning, but that can become rather a project.

  13. I love All-Clad as well, including the fact they can go in the dishwasher. I am toying with induction and bought several Demeyere pans. The feel of these pans is sublime. Much more substantial than All-Clad I hate to admit. I did buy the All-Clad slow roaster because I garden so much, and it's a way to have dinner cooking when I am not. I also love Le Crueset and agree Flame all the way. The oval is my go-to roaster/au gratin. Have you or anyone else used the Scanpan CTX? I have all-clad non-stick, but have concerns about the coating and when noncooking husband is a bit clueless with their care. The Scanpan can go in dishwasher, metal tools can be used on them and is more green. Thoughts? Finally a southern grandmother tip: dry cast iron in slow oven. When adding a bit of vegetable oil (I'm sure my grandmother used lard) turn pan upside out, directly on oven rack (I put a tray on the rack underneath). Works like a charm.

  14. Don't laugh. My kitchen has never been the same since my 35 year old carbon blade Sabatier chef's knife, my favorite one, went to the great steelyard in the sky, having been sharpened to a stilleto over the years. The perfect weight and balance, the perfect size. I'll miss it always. The new one just isn't the same.

    Anyway, as I said, don't laugh, but my two newest kitchen favorites are my huge plain white flour sack dish clothes (they work, they really work!), after a lifetime of too cute linen ones that didn't work well, and a set of four colored plastic cutting sheets, which work so well and easily, that all my better cutting boards have been put away. Thank you, Crate & Barrel.

  15. I had the great pleasure of knowing Julia Child, she was going to be at an estate in Montecito for a fundraiser: Conversations with Julia where she sat in her director's chair while a chef demonstrated cooking and she would chat with him. 45 people paid $500 to watch. The hostess asked me to find out what Julia's favorite cookware was and purchase a full set. It was of course: All Clad. When Julia arrived and saw the pots and pans she expressed her pleasure. Good taste Reggie

  16. excellent review , you covered the different cookware very well. I am a fan of all clad stainless and le creuset.
    all clad stainless

  17. 2,3 & 5- Plus a visions glass pot for rice-
    2 Revere ware, for eggs and noodles.
    Handy dandy cookie sheets, crock pot ( and
    an iron dutch oven) occasional " Aquanon "
    (I believe stainless steel)
    Sabatier Knives, indeed! (many) - I have a large one that has broken twice and now shamefully is ground down to a nub...

  18. My first post college paycheck went for a set of Le Crueset. I couldn't decide on a color so I mixed the red and blue. Only the wooden handle pots could not take the years of cooking and washing abuse. Everything else is still wonderful after almost 30 years.


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