Pros: Non-stick with scratch guard; draining lid; steam venting lid; 8 qt. size
Cons: Draining lid could fit a little more snugly
Rating: 5 out of 5
First posted 4/11/2003
When my husband and I got married and moved into our house, mom got us a great housewarming gift–a set of Cook’s Essentials cookware, plus a couple of single pieces to go along with it. I hadn’t heard amazing things so far about the brand, so I was a little leery. But after almost two years using this brand of cookware, I have to say I’m totally sold on it.
Somehow in all of this we ended up with two 8 quart pots–one with a lovely dark green enamel coating and one in stainless steel. Our 12 quart pasta pot (with strainer) has fallen by the wayside now, used only for steaming. We almost never use our 5 quart stainless steel All-Clad pot for soups any more. And yes, sometimes we have had both 8 quart pots in use at the same time!
The 8 quart pot has a non-stick interior, coated with a special scratch-guard coating. This means that you can use metal implements on it! We try not to go nuts scraping them with metal spoons or anything, but we have yet to damage the non-stick surface on any of our CE pans and pots.
This is a very non-stick surface, and really the CE pans are the first pans to make me truly enjoy non-stick pans. I’ve had too many non-stick pans before this that flaked their coating off into food, wore down, and/or became “sticky” very quickly. This non-stick coating has held up for almost two years now with no sign of problem in any of our cookware. You don’t need to use much oil at all–if any–with these pans, and they clean very easily. So easily, in fact, that my husband usually insists on cleaning them by hand because it’s easier and faster than taking the time to fit them into the dishwasher!
Which is a good thing in the case of the 8 quart, because we’d have a hard time fitting it in the dishwasher anyway, even if it is technically dishwasher-safe.
These pots have a heavy metal disc on the bottom that distributes heat evenly and holds heat well. We don’t have problems where one part of the pot’s contents burns while another gets undercooked. And although the metal holds heat well, it doesn’t hold it too well–the pot responds fairly quickly when you turn the heat up or down underneath it.
Our pots each came with two lids. One lid is clear glass with a handle on top; there’s a special valve in that handle that releases steam if it builds up too much (to prevent boil-overs)–this has come in handy once or twice! It also makes it easy to tell at a glance when your water is boiling (if it is, steam will pour out of the top). The handle also stays cool to the touch, in our experience, although we’re still careful with it.
The second lid is metal, and has two sets of holes in it. One set has smaller holes; the other has larger holes. There are two handles, one on each side of the pot, and you flip them up to hold the metal lid on. Then you carry it over to the sink and pour the water out through the holes–this is a great way to drain your pasta.
One warning however–it is possible for the metal lid to slip out from under the handles; they don’t hold it entirely snugly (this happened to us once–pasta all over the sink!). However, if you hold the handles with a pair of pot-holders and use the pot-holders to help hold the lid on, things work fine.
Unlike some of the recent “miracle pasta pots” (or whatever) that I’ve seen on TV recently with holes in the lid, the spread of holes isn’t so wide that it comes close to the handles (as long as you center it carefully between the handles), so you won’t catch your fingers with the hot water.
Although at first glance the steel pot and the enamel-coated pot look the same, they actually aren’t. Our enamel-coated pot has perfectly straight sides, while our steel pot has sides that bulge a bit toward the bottom. For the most part this doesn’t make a difference, except when you want to boil spaghetti (or a similar stiff, long pasta). That fits better into the steel pot with the bulge toward the bottom.
We use these pots constantly now; they seem like the perfect size for a big pot of soup. Our 5 quart was always just a little small, and soups often threatened to boil over. Not any more. We also cook and drain our pasta in them, which means we don’t have to try to clean starch out of our colander any more. They’re extremely easy to clean, and the lids fit into the dishwasher and come out of it in great shape. I have no idea how we lived without one of these things for so long!