Top positive review
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Expensive, but WORTH EVERY PENNY! Like other All-Clad products, this Stock Pot is the among the finest of cookware on the market
on December 28, 2014
I am without doubt a huge fan of clad cookware, and especially All-Clad cookware. While anything but inexpensive, All-Clad is an example of American manufacturing at its finest. These products give class-leading performance and are built to a quality standard that few can match. I have used All-Clad cookware for many years and my experiences with their products, as well as my interaction with the company, has been absolutely stellar. Buy a pot or pan from All-Clad once and it's the last time you will ever need to make that cookware purchase because these products really will last a lifetime. If you are looking for a stock pot of the finest quality, performance, and durability, this is a great choice.
ABOUT CLAD COOKWARE
Clad cookware is literally a compromise of multiple traditional pan types because some guy was unhappy with the limitations of existing materials and decided to combine multiple elements into a single cookware build, drawing on iron's ability to evenly distribute & hold heat, aluminum's heat conducting properties, stainless steel's durability, low reactivity, & low upkeep. So enters the great compromise of clad cookware. With All-Clad's Stainless line and their MC (Master Chef) line, you get (induction-compatible) stainless on the outsides and aluminum on the inside (with All-Clad's higher end models, add copper and multiple cores.) The aluminum betters the heat transfer, and the stainless encases the aluminum for durability. Heat treat the stainless to give good impact resistance & strength to protect it from things like dents, easy-scratching, and warping, and you are left with a pot that heats relatively fast, give an even heat transfer, and has excellent durability without reactivity. Not surprisingly, clad cookware has established itself as a staple in both the home and professional settings. And All-Clad has established itself as a staple among the brands known for producing the finest clad cookware made.
SO WHY ALL-CLAD SPECIFICALLY??? WHAT JUSTIFIES THE HIGH PRICE-PREMIUM???
I must own at least about 2 grand in All-Clad cookware and for some crazy reason I keep buying more. This is the summarized list of why I like All-Clad products enough to spend the extra money them:
1) Solid Functional Design Translating to Functional Build Quality -- pick one up and you'll feel the quality & appreciate the layout
2) Immaculate Fit & Finish -- the cosmetic finish is consistent, the curvatures are symmetrical, the engraving is clean, and there are no sharp angles
3) Durability & Longevity -- the difference between these and many models costing ¼ to ½ the price is substantial...just look at the handles/riveting
4) Guarantee -- these are warrantied for life...and given this is indeed a cookware set that will last you the rest of your life, the warranty's a nice plus
5) Versatility -- if you move, All-Clad products excel with gas, electric, induction, side-heat, & open-pit cooking. Buy it once; enjoy for life.
6) Heat Transfer – this is as close as you get to the heat-transfer of cast iron, except you also get the convenience of stainless steel
7) Low Maintenance -- you can clean these with almost anything, and they have phenomenal corrosion resistance (dishwasher safe)
8) American Product...American Jobs -- purchasing this product supports a skilled trade of American metalcrafters & supports domestic steelmaking
9) The Steel -- anyone can make 18/10, but the quality of the steel & heat treatment determines how it performs...with All-Clad, it's class-leading
10) Saving Money & Promoting Good Health By Eating-In -- If you enjoy cooking and you have the tools to enjoy cooking more & cook better thanks to these tools, chances are you are going to cook for yourself more than eating out. That also presents an opportunity to eat healthier food. You may have to spend $600-1,000+ to piece together the complete set of All-Clad pots/pans you need, but like a nice cutlery or flatware set, these products are arguably investments since you only have to pay for them once, plus you can enjoy using them every single day, and they will last for decades...on the other hand, spending $10 a day on lunch doesn't last long at all, but it sure adds up fast!
THE STOCK POT & IT'S SPECIALTY DESIGN, PLUS ITS USAGE AS A BAKE DISH FOR ITS RADIATING HEAT
The stock pot is an interesting pot. While it is rarely the most frequently used cookware item in the kitchen, it is a specialty-purpose item and you really must have one to perform certain cooking tasks. Living alone, the standard 3 qt stock pot (which I sometimes call a Dutch oven) is generally sufficient for me. But sometimes I will make a huge batch of stew, soup, stock, or chili, or cook a huge roast that I freeze for later eating. With those tasks, a 3qt stock pot isn't going to cut it. Heck, a 5 qt is even too small. So the 8 quart is my go-to for these tasks (if you live with other people, chances are you will use this more than me.)
This stock pot can also be used in an interesting fashion to maintain stable temps with baking, much like how indirect heat via a round Weber charcoal grill works. Using All-Clad's ability to provide even heat distribution, you can use this stock pot as a baking pan even if the item being baked is small. If you elevate a piece of meat with something like a cooling rack to place the meat directly in the center, the wall’s radiating heat will maintain a temp more stable than what most ovens can provide on their own. This can be useful when you desire to cook something evenly all-around, especially with a slower roast or with foods that can easily dry out in certain areas when the temp distribution is uneven. I find that pork tenderloin and many kinds of fish come out really well with this method.
WHY I CHOSE 8 QUARTS OVER THE 6, 7, 12, 16, OR 20 QUART MODELS
All-Clad offers some very large stock pots. Past this 8 quart model, there is also a 12, 16, and 20 quart stockpot. In a perfect world I would have preferred to have purchased the 12 qt, but there were four practical reasons I went for the smaller 8 quart size: 1) the price gets much higher with larger stock pots, 2) the 8qt size is the largest you can purchase in a set to save a few dollars, 3) I do not know where I would store a 12 or 16 quart pot, and (most importantly), 4) the stove in my apartment struggles to bring even 8 quarts to a rolling boil & requires an incredible amount of preheating...chances are my stove will be unable to handle sizes beyond the 8 qt. So I struck this size as my compromise. Depending on your stove, this may or may not be a concern for you personally.
WHY I LIKE THIS STOCK POT OVER OTHERS I HAVE USED
Like other All-Clad items, the handles themselves are solid. They are large, easy to grip, have strong riveting to carry the heavy weight of this thing when filled, and are all-stainless so cooking temps do not reduce their strength/integrity. With silicone oven mitts, the silicone-on-stainless creates a lot of friction to avoid slipping with a heavy pot of stew. Even if I am making a stew or roast, I like to sear meats for the flavor the searing creates. Since this has the same design (and width) as my favorite sear pan (their 3 Qt. Saute pan), I can sear meat directly in this pot as the first step and get that high-quality sear that All-Clad is legendary for, without the need to use (and therefore clean) additional cookware. Nothing gives beef stew a good start of flavor boost better than a nice high-heat sear over thyme! As cookware with certain non-stick coatings are not appropriate for high-high heat usage or very prolonged usage, I also like how I can use this pot for applications of very hot or very long-duration cooking, as well as how the long duration cooking on stainless does not impart any off-flavors or modify the food's flavor in any way. I even sometimes use this for deep frying...the taller walls reduce splashing and the clad construction maintains a consistent oil temp.
WHAT I DO NOT LIKE ABOUT THIS STOCK POT, & DRAWBACKS TO CLAD COOKWARE
As the images show, my stock pot is one generation older than the one currently sold. The main difference is that the lid design is different. The lid on the older design had a little more clearance in the cutout, and did not fit as tightly. The new lid fits tighter (I have it on other items) and while I find this to give the benefit of reducing steam loss, it does have a tendency to rattle under a roaring boil. If I am making beef stock from bones, that rattle can get a little annoying. So while I have both new and old lids that fit this stock pot (it can take the same lid as the 3qt Saute pan), I tend to favor the old design for most uses of this specific pot.
In general, the main downsides to clad would be weight and price, mainly. While not as heavy as iron, the best clad cookware is going to still be pretty heavy...and you will likely pay well over twice that of iron. This larger stockpot is considerably heavy (specs shown in pictures.) The cost of making the sandwiched ply layers is more than casting a single piece. Also, many people note that the rivets on the handle of All-Clad makes cleaning in the area somewhat difficult...and I agree (copper scrubbers work great for this.) However, these oversized rivets do give structural durability.
The way I clean my All-Clad pots and pans is through using one or more of the following: a copper scrubber, a copper bristled brush, bronze wool, Bar Keeper's Friend, a food-safe polish, concentrated peroxide, and/or a certain acid. For reference, the stock pot shown in these pictures has been cleaned at least 500 times over the years, and I give minimal attention to preserving the cosmetic finish. Yet, as you can see, it still looks pretty good.
The point in that illustration is that I strongly recommend NOT babying this stock pot, or any All-Clad cookware, when cleaning. The hardened stainless steel on the outside of clad cookware is made to withstand decades of heavier cleaning without any functional harm. These do great with the use of a mild abrasive such as Bar Keeper's Friend (which All-Clad recommends using.) Bar Keeper's Friend dramatically speeds cleaning by cutting through grease and caked on buildup, which dramatically reduces effort/time, and it also dramatically restores shine/polish. Copper scrubbers and bronze wool works great on these too. Being softer than steel but much harder than a sponge, they rapidly remove down even the worst of caked-in buildup. While not 100% scratch-free, they are relatively easy on the finish. (I recommend using bronze wool over steel wool or steel scrubbers because bronze is softer than steel and it does not rust.)
As others have noted, after use these will not look 100% new unless one is actively polishing them. Scratches on non-stick pans are a concern because it can degrade performance and may have health risks...scratches on a stainless pan are of zero functional or safety concern. A 30 second clean with Bar Keeper's Friend will make these look very good with minimal effort. If they show a few scratches...well…since a device used to make food is not a display for an art museum, I can’t say that a few scratches concerns me.
All-Clad products are dishwasher safe...I have a few pans and lids that I have ran through thousands of cycles. However, there are some limitations here since a dishwasher may not physically clean the cookware good enough if it has a lot of buildup, which can mean a need to pre-clean them. Additionally, the additives in dishwasher detergent or the combination of hard water + heat-drying will often make the inside of the pots dull and discolored. While this is not a safety concern and will not harm performance, many people do not like how these look coming out of the dishwasher. The larger sizes, like this 8qt stock pot, also take up a ton of real estate space in the dishwasher, meaning it is often more efficient to just hand wash with some Bar Keeper's Friend.
When I first transitioned from non-stick to bare-bottomed stainless, I was initially disappointed due to the sticking. I learned from other users that the secret here is temperature control. With these kinds of pots & pans, you generally want to do a medium preheat prior to adding food. When you get that instant sizzle upon the food making contact with the pan, that flash sear creates its own barrier between the food and the pot's surface. Used along with oils, stainless cookware can perform almost as well as most non-stick ones, plus you get the all the added benefits of using stainless.
SO IN CONCLUSION
I apologize for my more lengthy review. But since this is a premium product with a considerable purchase price, buying it is a big financial decision and I wanted to share my experience while discussing the pros and cons. Like almost all All-Clad products I have used, this stock pot is really the best of the best. The purchase price is high, but the superior quality is proof that this isn't one of those products where you are primarily paying just for a name. So I highly recommend this stock pot, as well as other sized stock pots made by All-Clad, and all of All-Clad's cookware in-general.