Friday, December 25, 2009

All-Clad Stainless with d5 Technology Review

When All-Clad asked me if I’d be interested in testing out its new Stainless with d5 Technology line of cookware, I jumped at the chance. All-Clad is my favorite brand of cookware (I have quite the collection to prove it, including a number of Stainless pots and pans, one Cop•R•Chef pan, one LTD pan, and a few Specialty Items. I’ve been collecting my All-Clad for over a decade…What can I say? Some women have a designer shoe fetish, I happen to have a weakness for designer cookware. But I digress…) and the one I recommend to students in my cooking classes. And no, I’m not even a paid representative. (Not that I wouldn’t be—All-Clad, are you listening?) I wanted to be the first to see how they had improved on the classic Stainless line. They offered me a free sample of the pan of my choice. I went for the 12” fry pan, figuring it would be the most versatile piece to take for a test drive. Then I waited anxiously for it to come in the mail, wondering what it would look like and how it would perform.

The pan arrived the day after Thanksgiving. It looked pretty much like any pan from the original Stainless line, with the same gleaming stainless, the same sexy lines, and the same solid feel, but with two new details: a logo, including pan size, on the bottom and a nifty little gripping notch on the handle. (By the way, I actually breathed a sigh of relief when I saw that they hadn’t changed the handle substantially—that handle is good to my little wrists, unlike others…) But here’s the real difference: while classic Stainless is made of just three layers of bonded metal, the Stainless with d5 Technology, as the name implies, is composed of five: a stainless steel interior and exterior, 2 plies of aluminum, and a stainless steel core. Would a couple of extra layers of metal matter? I was about to put my new fry pan through its paces with a series of tests to find out.

The Pop Quiz: As I mentioned, the pan arrived right after Thanksgiving. Considering I had spent the entirety of the previous two days in the kitchen, I was not particularly inclined to perform any great feats of culinary virtuosity, despite having a brand new shiny pan. Besides, there were too many leftovers to work through. So I threw together two roast turkey, provolone, and sage pesto paninis. They browned evenly. But let’s be honest, even a cheap pan can turn out an acceptable grilled cheese sandwich.

The Midterm: Pan-frying demands more of a pan, so I made Chicken Parmigiana.

I originally developed this recipe using the classic Stainless 14” fry pan, but I put the d5 pan to the test with just a half batch. I preheated the pan over medium-low to medium heat, and the pan didn’t seem to cool down one bit when the two chicken breasts were added. The panko crust browned nicely, and even the parts nearest the edges of the pan browned evenly. It was not necessary to rotate the chicken breasts 180-degrees like it sometimes is in the original Stainless pans to achieve that even browning. When dinner was done I popped the pan into the dishwasher, and it came out looking like new. If only my stovetop were as easy to clean.

The Final Examination: As far as I’m concerned, searing is the ultimate test of a pan’s performance. And *wink* you can trust me when I talk about searing—I’ve written a book on the subject. (Insert shameless plug here: my cookbook Seared to Perfection will be published in October, and for the record, I developed and tested every single one of its 100 recipes using my own Stainless All-Clad pans.) Anyway, as I was saying, you can just about judge a pan’s worth by how well it can sear. With that in mind, I endeavored to brown over three pounds of chili grind for a large pot of my Real Texas Chili. I broke the beef up into smallish crumbles, then preheated the pan thoroughly over medium-high heat on my largest burner. I added the oil to the pan, swirled it around, and added just a small portion of the meat so as to avoid overcrowding. After a couple of minutes the meat began to exude moisture and stew in its own juices. I immediately increased the heat, and the meat began to brown nicely. I seared the remaining chili grind in several batches over medium-high to high heat. The meat became a most appetizing shade of brown, it never scorched, even when I became distracted and turned away from to the stove, and to my great surprise I never had to add extra oil to the pan. It’s safe to say that the d5 pan passed the searing test with flying colors when I cranked up the heat. But the fine people at All-Clad insist that the d5 line is so efficient that you’ll never have to increase the heat above medium. If I had followed this advice, the searing test would’ve been a miserable failure. Anyway, the pan seemed very stable at high heat, and there were no signs of warping.

Grading: So, would I run out and replace all of my old Stainless with d5? No, of course not…Well, maybe I would if I were independently wealthy. But would I choose d5 for my future cookware needs? You bet. The new generation preserves or improves upon all of the features that make the original Stainless line so great, and it cooks even more evenly. Yes I did just say “even more evenly”. All-Clad Stainless with d5 is the best cookware out there, as long as you’re not afraid of the heat.

New All-Clad Stainless with d5 Technology cookware launches on December 26th and will be available exclusively at Williams-Sonoma. Hopefully you got a Williams-Sonoma gift card for Christmas.

Chicken Parmigiana
Printable Recipe

1 large egg
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/3 cup grated Parmegiano-Reggiano
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Freshly ground black pepper
4 6-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Kosher salt
¼ cup all-purpose flour
Canola oil, for frying
1 cup Basic Tomato Sauce
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, drained, sliced, and at room temperature

Whisk together the egg and 2 tablespoons of water in a large, shallow dish. Mix together the panko, Parmegiano, oregano, and a generous pinch of pepper in another large, shallow dish. Gently pound out the chicken breasts to an even thickness with a meat pounder and season generously with salt and pepper. Dip each chicken breast into the flour to coat and shake off any excess, then into the egg wash, and then into the panko mixture to coat, patting so that it adheres. Arrange the chicken breasts in a single layer on a plate and let rest for about 15 minutes.

Add enough oil to a very large, heavy frying pan to come to a depth of ¼ inch. Heat over medium heat until a pinch of the breadcrumb mixture sizzles immediately when added. Add the chicken breasts and fry without disturbing for 5 to 6 minutes, or until golden brown. Using tongs, turn the chicken breasts and fry another 4 to 5 minutes, or until just cooked through and golden brown. The chicken breasts will be firm to the touch and the juices will run clear when they are just cooked through. Meanwhile, preheat the broiler and bring the tomato sauce to a simmer in a small saucepan. Remove the chicken breasts to a paper towel-lined plate and drain for about a minute. Transfer to a rack on a baking tray, top each one with ¼ cup of the sauce, and divide the mozzarella among them, arranging the slices in a single layer. Broil for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the mozzarella melts. Arrange on individual plates and serve immediately.

Serves 4. Drain the mozzarella thoroughly on paper towels so that there's no excess moisture to turn the panko breading on the chicken soggy. The sweetness of fresh mozzarella is absolutely delicious with chicken breasts, but when I’m in the mood for a more pungent cheese, I like to substitute provolone. If you don’t have a pan large enough to cook all of the chicken breasts without overcrowding, fry them in 2 batches or use 2 pans. Veal and eggplant can also be prepared in this manner. Serve spaghetti with additional Basic Tomato Sauce on the side.


Will said...

A question... I find there is some confusion between the various lines of All-Clad. What are the advantages/disadvantages of say these D5 or even the traditional stainless vs the Copper Core line?

Thanks in advance for your insight,

Lucy Vaserfirer said...

Please visit All-Clad for detailed descriptions of all of the product lines. I’ll just say that the Copper-Core line does offer maximum heat conduction, but it is by far the most expensive, and the copper band would discolor in the dishwasher.

Dawn said...

oh would I love to have All-Clad send me the copper core or anyting for that matter to review! I adore their products; everything I have of theirs is so well made. I've noticed such a HUGE difference in the way pan cooked foods,even the most delicate like eggs, turn out using an All Clad pan.
congrats on the new cookbook!

Anonymous said...

So should I even consider being disappointed that Santa brought me the non d5 10-piece stainless steel, or jump for joy for the great set it is? (W/S said I could exchange them, but I had already cook Christmas dinner in my shiny new pots and pans)

Lucy Vaserfirer said...

Santa was very, very good to you this year! I’m certain that either line will serve you well.

avaserfi said...

Anonymous: I was wondering about that as well and asked at a W/S when I was in. They told me even if the pans are used with a gift receipt they will allow an exchange.

Chef Jim said...

Will: Here's a little information on the advantages of D5. First off, it's 5 layers thick instead of 3. The interior is 18/10 stainless steel, the best surface available for searing and browning. Working inward, the next layer is aluminum, which allows you to reach and maintain a temperature using less heat; it also helps with even heat distribution. The CENTER layer is a patented stainless-steel compound that diffuses heat, so that you can heat the pan up to 20% faster with other cookware. Next is another layer of aluminum, and the exterior is specially-magnetized stainless steel, for improved performance especially with induction cooktops.
The helper handles and lid handles are also larger, so you can actually fit a potholder into them for safer transport from stove to serving bowl. D5 pans also feature a pouring lip, which the traditional stainless did not have. As Lucy said, the handle has a re-design that shows you how far in you can place your hand on the handle for ease of lifting without burning your skin. Finally, each pan is marked on the bottom with its capacity for easy identification. Hope this helps!

Katie Cavanagh said...

You've all convinced me, and W-S is offering all kinds of deals on the d5 right now. My only question is this: how does the copper core actually compare with the d5? I can't swing a bunch of copper core pans at the moment (literally or financially), but I'd love to know.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know why I can not seem to find any information about the d5 line. The only reference to d5 is from W/S. All Clad has nothing on there web site. Is it so exclusive to W/S that All Clad doesn't even mention it? Confused.

Anonymous said...

Well forget it. I found it. No longer confused.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the review on D5 stainless.
I own several pieces of original LTD (not the new LTD2) which cook like the bomb and original stainless(not D5), and MC2.
In my kitchen experience, the more aluminum in the pan(LTD and MC2) the better the cooking performance. Perhaps it depends on what type of range you use. I have a gas range.
So for my use, I do not see the need to spend high ended dollars on D5 technology whether it be stainless or LTD2, even with it having the dish washer safe advantage.
There are now huge online sales on the original LTD for those who desire that line.

Tracie Broom said...

Thanks for this! Just landed a 7-qt d5 stainless stock pot at TJ Maxx for $94 (factory second with no lid, but looks terrific!) and was wondering if it was worth keeping. I am now convinced!

Irina said...

I made Veal Parmigiana for dinner today with your Basic Tomato Sauce and adopting your chicken recipe. It was sublime. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

In your opinion how does the performance of Copper Core compares to 5d? Copper Core is more expensive but does it perform better? Also, does it make sense to buy a set? It seems much cheaper if you were to buys all the items separately.

Thank you

Lucy Vaserfirer said...

I don't have enough experience with Copper-Core to say how it compares to d5. But regardless of the line, I recommend buying individual pieces rather than a set so you can select the specific pots and pans that best suit your cooking needs.

Anonymous said...

I am VERY disappointed in my D5 pot. First time I used it I simply heated soup on medium heat. The pot turned blue inside and has remained that way. My regular All Clad pots have NEVER done that, in fact I put my frying pan on high for some things and it still looks brand new after 3 years of use.

Anonymous said...

Now that both copper core and the 5d stainless are induction ready, can anyone here tell me if the copper core heats faster or is in anyway a better experience other than the racing stripe of copper appearance? It looks nice,but...
I've called All Clad and asked at all the stores that carry them but can't find anyone with hands on experience to tell me if it's really worth twice the money for cooking with copper core or not. Is it just about the looks like the lady at All Clad told me? Thanks for your help.

Anonymous said...

If you use Bar Keeper's Friend to clean your AC pots/pans, then you can prevent/remove the blueish stains. It works like magic!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the hands-on review of the D5. I was wondering if anyone has experience with cooking fish fillets with D5, i.e., fillet of sole. The protein, along with the amount of water released (even after following standard treatment: drying the exterior, coating with flour, not moving it around until crisp, and not overcrowding the pan) makes for a very sticky food. I can do eggs, or just about anything else with most cookware, but fish fillets are the biggest challenge for me.

Lucy Vaserfirer said...

In my experience, all of the All-Clad lines work beautifully for fish, but I usually opt for one of their nonstick pans for very delicate fillets like sole. Based on your comment about the liquid being released during cooking, I suspect that your pan isn't preheated sufficiently before the fish goes in and/or the fish is getting overcooked. Exuded liquid is also an issue if you are using frozen fish instead of fresh. Please consider taking a look at my book Seared to Perfection to learn more—there's a lot of good info on this very subject in the introduction.

Nicholas Sewitz said...

Hi, I was wondering if anyone is aware of an All-Clad line before the d5 line that was a brushed stainless steel professional series with a 5ply build. I am looking at some on ebay as I cannot afford to buy all clad new and they seem like a great option.

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