Rather than 'thrilling' you with a 3 item grocery list, I decided that today would be a great day to do another product review. So, for today's blog we're going to look at the most important items in the kitchen. The items that you use almost everyday, and in nearly every meal. Cookware.
Most of the experts out there will tell you to avoid cookware sets. (The big box that includes all of your skillets and pans in one). The reasoning behind this is simple, most cookware sets have one or two 'dog' items - things that are not as great of quality as the rest of the set (in order to balance our the cost for the production company).
The one exception to this rule is if you are just starting out and need, well...everything before you can get started. About 4 months ago, Maggie and I found ourselves in this same situation. We had one skillet (10 inches) and one pot (2 quarts) and that was it. So, we set out with a little bridal shower money and purchased: Giada De Laurentiis™ for Target® 10-pc. Professional Series Tri-Ply Clad Cookware Set
Now that we've had 4 solid months with the set. I feel we can provide an accurate review of the overall quality.
Giada's cookware is only sold at Target stores and comes in two forms. The 'Professional' series and the standard series. While the outside of the box would make it seem like the two sets are very similar, both sets are stainless steel, both have 10 pieces (two skillets, 4 pots and 4 lids) however, a little digging reveals that they are anything but similar.
When you actually touch the pans, you can tell the professional series is just made better. The professional series is tri-ply clad (with a copper core) which means not only does the heat distribute better and maintain longer -it also makes the pan much more sturdy and heavy. The standard series felt cheap, it seemed like with enough force, one could bend the small skillet in their hands...not something that marks a quality set of cookware. Needless to say, we opted for the professional series, which retails at $199.99, however we purchased this set when it was on sale for $149.99 (and we got a free DVD too!).
The Skillets -
The professional set includes two skillets; 8 inch and 9.5 inches. Now, the standard set has a 8 inch skillet and 10 inch skillet. It's clear the skillets are the 'dogs' of this set. First of all, there is not 12 inch skillet. If you do any regular cooking, you are aware that the 12 inch skillet is basically the most used piece of cookware in your kitchen. Skipping out on the 12 inch skillet really hurts this set overall. From our experience, even the 10 inch skillet would have been a nice addition over the 9.5 inch skillet which is simply an awkward size. It's not big enough to handle many main dishes, but it's too large to do any quick frying (as it leaves a lot of wasted space). The skillets also have fairly shallow side walls, meaning any dish that requires large amounts of liquid to fry/stew has to be moved to a pot. There are a few nice aspects of the skillets, however, such as their thickness and their sturdy, well built design.
|The skillets do have a nice thickness|
The Pots -
Simply put, I am in love with the pots in this set. There are four pots; 5 quart, 3 quart, 2 quart and 1 quart. The size variety is of great use as you are almost always guaranteed to have the pot that you need at any given time. The quality of the pots are amazing. They are all very heavy and thick, with solid bottoms (for better heat retention and distribution) and strong sides. The handles are well insulated so every a molten hot pot can be grabbed and moved without a towel. (This does not apply to the 5 quart pot, which has relatively tiny handles on the sides - those DO become molten hot VERY quickly). Each pot has a matching lid that sits tightly on top. The only downside is that the lids are also stainless steel, meaning they have to be removed in order to visually inspect the food.
Ease Of Use & Cleaning:
The entire set is stainless steel and not at all treated to be nonstick. This makes cooking a little bit of a challenge as oil and butter absolutely have to be used every time you place food in a pan. Even while cooking chicken, for example, you will have to add splashes of olive oil in between breasts or else be stuck attempting to pry the chicken from the pan.
The second downside of stainless steel cookware is the cleaning. While the set looks absolutely amazing and high quality, it takes a lot of work to keep it that way. As mentioned, they are not at all nonstick, meaning that every little thing you cook with will still be on the pan when you've finished. Deep soaking is a must to get stuck on oil, grease and fat off of the surfaces and Bar Keeper's Friend (or any type of stainless steel cleaner) must always be on hand to keep the shine.
While there are some aspects of this set that I am not too happy with (mainly the lack of a large skillet and the extra work that goes into using each pot or pan) the positives outweigh the negatives.
A nice little bonus of the set is that the lids for the pots also fit on the skillets. This nice attention to detail is welcome. While it may not seem like a big bonus, having a skillet set that already includes lids is a great money (and time) saver.
The set is extremely well made and feels like professional set. Sometimes cookware can feel cheap and flimsy - a flaw that WILL show up in the final dish. This set feels high end and very, very solid. I do not hesitate to throw anything at or in any of these pans - I know that whatever we want to cook up can be handled by the cookware. That's piece of mind that is well worth the price.
In the end, we would certainly recommend the Giada De Laurentiis™ for Target® 10-pc. Professional Series Tri-Ply Clad Cookware Set
While the price is a little higher than most other cookware sets, the quality makes it worth the difference. Small attention to detail like lids that fit a skillet as well as a pot, and the well built design of each pan make this a great set for the beginning chef, or for anyone who wants to update or upgrade their current cookware set.
That's all we have for you today. We only have two recipes this week, due to the upcoming wedding. I will be cooking on Tuesday and Maggie will be cooking on Wednesday. After that, we're off for a solid week. (No blogging on the honeymoon - wife-to-be's orders!) Stop by tomorrow evening to see what I've got cooking. Be sure to become a fan of Out Of The Culinary on Facebook, we will be posting updates and links through our official page exclusively starting next week. Maggie will no longer be posting the blog links once we're back from the honeymoon - so join our official page and stay in contact with the blog!