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braindoc

Copper cookware

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For some reason or other I started researching copper cookware a few weeks ago.  Certainly, I don’t “need” copper pans, but I didn’t need a KK either.  I was browsing the Serious Eats website and came across on article about copper cookware.  The writer mentioned driving to East Greenwich RI to speak with Jim Hamann of Duparquet and East Coast Tinning.  I had no idea this widely acclaimed craftsman is located only 6 miles from us.

I have read pretty extensively about tin v stainless steel lining, desirable copper thickness, brass v cast iron v stainless steel handles, etc.  Heat retention, conductivity, melting point . . . .  I have looked at Duparquet, Brooklyn Copper Cookware, Mauviel, Matfer Bourgeat, Falk, Bottega del Rame, Navarini, and others.

I am in awe of the culinary skills of people here so I thought I’d ask for thoughts about your recommendations and experiences with copper cookware.  

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Ok, here's some serious trivia for the really old timers here: I gave away my copper cookware to "Kim" of "David and Kim", whom I met at a 2003 Kamado cookoff in Sacramento.

My french cooking teacher had many copper pots. I mainly winced at the hours spent polishing, but hey, he was in the trade and cooking is part theater. He died a year ago but his web site lives on; yes that's Anthony Edwards the actor in the classes photo. He sold all his copper to help fund his retirement; I visited him regularly in rural PA for good food and conversations:

La Cuisine Sans Peur

In my experience copper does conduct better but the properties of the cooking surface dominate. My favorite pans are actually carbon steel with the heft of cast iron:

Spring USA Blackline pans

though this is a burgeoning category since I bought three, and other brands have a more practical shape now.

After falling in love with Dominique Crenn through her memoir, I noticed that her restaurant is brimming with Mauviel stainless steel pans. A practical choice, easier to care for than copper but functionally rather similar in use. I now have a few Mauviel pans which I love. My favorite is a 6.3" curved splayed saute pan with lid (for making sauces or any equivalent activity such as the tempering step in Indian cooking) that doesn't show anymore on the US web site:

M'COOK Curved Splayed Sautepan 7.9 In

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I use All-Clad Copper Clad (a discontinued line) and Bourgeat almost exclusively or when I don't, I am using cast iron. All the copperware has stainless steel liners, except for one Irish skillet which has a nickel lining. I checked out tin lined but quickly determined its inherent limitations were not for me. Nor were Mauviel copperware, at least those made at the time I was buying.

The All-Clad has stainless steel handles, which stay cool. The various Bourgeat have cast iron handles, which do not stay cool. Bourgeat is what I use when temperature control is critical as it has a thicker copper layer; the All-Clad for day-to-day. However, Bourgeat copperware is incredibly heavy so just be prepared if you go that direction. Brass handles are a good way to go to the emergency department for burn care /s. 

My cookware is "vintage", I bought most of it 30+years ago and still use it daily. Copper does require cleaning, but so do many things. I find a great deal of satisfaction in using high quality tools, whether cookware, KKs, woodworking and hand tools, and glassware. YMMV, as TonyB often says.

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So about 10 or more years ago I picked us a set of Demeyere SS cookware which is produced in Belgium. I love the styling and function of this cookware, my only complaint is this stuff, especially the frying pans are very heavy.  Within the past year or so I picked up a couple of Vermicular frying pans. These are highly engineered Japanese light weight cast iron frying pans with a non-stick technology. I absolutely love these pans.

Good luck in your search Braindoc!

Paul

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i passed at the opportunity to buy copperware for cheap at place seffarine in fes. my wife berated me for it because i told her we would go over our luggage limit.  never tell your partner about luggage limits when traveling. 😂

i didn't know "goose" was a gastronome. 

 

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Edited by David Chang
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My husband and I scour e-bay and European markets for copper pots and pans and, because they are often bashed up, we get them beaten out and re-tinned by a lovely man at Sherwood Tinning.  We recently picked up a set of three pots in France and had them re-tinned.  They are the best quality yet, with a beautiful hammered finish and quite a thick gauge.  See the difference between one of our standard pots and the beautiful hammered one in the pictures below.  I can't say that they cook any better than any other sort of pot but I love the look and they bring me joy every time I pick one up.

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I have one humongous artifact, an S&A Co pot from the 19th century that I hang in the outdoor cooking area it's very much in the tradition of Tekebo's pots. It's funny you mentioned the pots, just last week a guest of mine commented on this hanging pot and asked if I had ever used it. Unfortunately not, it's just too large and needs a tinning in the worst way. However I love the look it commands and the strength it takes to hold with two hands. Here's a pic and please excuse the condition, it hasn't been cleaned in over a year from it's exposure to the weather but I love it just the same. I'm with Syzygies when it comes to pans....carbon steel and cast iron meet the needs. I do remember my folks owning a set of Revere copperware made in the 50 or 60's, they're still employed in the family somewhere today. Nice pans Tekebo, you did them justice.

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@Tyrus you and my husband were separated at birth.  He bought this humungous pot at an online auction a few years ago.  When the tinning guy received it, direct from the auction house, he rang my husband up to ask him if he had any idea how large it was!  Anyway, it is completely impractical for cooking unless you are feeding a battalion.  It lives in our porch and we fill it with oranges when we buy in bulk.  The six bottle wine box in the second picture gives you an idea of the ridiculous scale of the thing.

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What wonderful stories and pots!   There is just something special about this cookware - especially the older pieces.

On 9/13/2022 at 8:13 PM, jonj said:

I find a great deal of satisfaction in using high quality tools

@jonj - Touché!!  That is exactly how I feel, whether cookware, Japanese knives, or well-made appliances.  Lots of people don’t understand this, and that’s OK.  

We also have some of those All Clad copper clad pieces in regular use.   

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Not sure the photos do it justice.  It is the 12.5 inch saute pan, tin-lined, 310mm thick copper.

@Tyrus:  He had some copper pots the size of yours waiting to be re-tinned.  It might be worth your while to get in touch and take a drive down to East Greenwich.  His place is very close to the EG waterfront; lots of places for shellfish and drinks 😉

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On 9/16/2022 at 4:21 AM, tekobo said:

 you and my husband were separated at birth.

I didn't know that. Tell your Husband he's a good man and he's well knowledgeable about all decisions involving rare artifacts. It's never about the capture, it's always the chase. Love that POT, it's a beauty and handsomer than mine, but it's impractical unless you have a use for it, unless it's to show. I saw the tin was still complete inside, you never know, one day it could be full again, and you my dear could fill it ................maybe with a Chili, wouldn't that be remarkable. Food for thought, the Fall is a coming.   

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@Tyrus, my husband was very pleased to be told that he is very knowledgeable.   Given you were separated at birth, so must you be.  We set about thinking about what we could fill the pot with. He thinks it would hold chilli for 200 people.  We don't have that many friends.  One could probably fry a whole turkey in it.  If one liked turkey. Or steam a great big suet pudding.  Or, much more safely, fill it with oranges.  

We are in Italy at the moment and there was a beautiful pan on display in a neighbourhood restaurant that we went to last night.  It's for polenta they said.  It's not for sale.  I may have to sneak back in to steal it.  See what you have started @braindoc?  I hope you enjoy your journey with copper cookware as much as we enjoy ours.  

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@Tekobo -  I’m so sorry.  Hopefully, being in Italy eases your pain.  Are you in the north?

BTW, was that pan unlined?  I was surprised when I first read that untinned copper is traditional for polenta.  After a few hundred years, I guess the Italians know what they’re doing.


 

Edited by braindoc
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On 9/24/2022 at 12:24 PM, braindoc said:

@Tekobo -  I’m so sorry.  Hopefully, being in Italy eases your pain.  Are you in the north?

BTW, was that pan unlined?  I was surprised when I first read that untinned copper is traditional for polenta.  After a few hundred years, I guess the Italians know what they’re doing.


 

Hiya @braindoc.  Your mission, if you wish to accept it, is to find a way to get the pan out of this restaurant in Padova.  Here it is, hiding behind a child's birthday balloon.  It is heavy gauge and lined and they confirmed that it is used for polenta.  That said, I just googled copper polenta pots online and they look nothing like this one.  Oh well, it is lovely, whatever it's official use is. IMG_1482.thumb.jpeg.fe83baa3dcc471ac8d3e6f34b6d6451f.jpeg

 

 

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