2013 Gift Guide: Day Eleven
December 5, 2013
Just pulling this copper pan, with its warm shining color, out of the cupboard gives you instant bragging rights; it’s that beautiful. But when you start telling your friends about its amazing attributes, their jaws really drop.
Unlike most French copper pans, which are lined with tin, this Atelier du Cuivre beauty is lined with silver. Why? Because silver, which is a fantastic conductor of heat, melts at 1825 degrees, meaning that this pan gets really, really hot. (Tin melts at 425.) Most American copper pans are lined with stainless steel, which is not a very good heat conductor. (The purer the metal, the higher it's thermal conductivity; stainless steel is made of iron, chromium and nickel.) I’ve never cooked with a pan that got so hot, or responded so quickly to the flame.
The pans are hand-crafted by a master artisan, Jean Pierre Couget, who's been named a Meilleur Ouvrier de France. M. Couget works in a town called Villedieux-les-Poeles, which translates roughly as “God’s village of the frying pan.” Pick up the pan, and you'll understand.
The handles are made of wrought iron, a poor conductor of heat, which means they won’t burn you. Unlike so many clunky handles, they hug your hand in a very comfortable embrace.
Finally, you can have your pan personalized. The engraving is not just a vanity move: a pan this beautiful is a constant temptation to others.
I'm in love with my pan, which sears steaks and lamb chops like nothing I've ever used, works wonders with pancakes, and maintains such a low temperature that it roasts pine nuts without burning, makes fabulous sauces and is the perfect pan for caramelizing sugar. Still, I’ll admit it has a drawback: you pretty much have to polish it after every use. (I should note that Atelier du Cuivre sells the best copper polish I’ve ever encountered). I've copied their advice on caring for your pan below.
A ten-inch pan is $500. That’s a lot of money for a frying pan. On the other hand, amortized over a lifetime it's a fair price for an instant heirloom.
The Atelier du Cuivre website is great to browse, but it doesn’t offer much in the way of ordering advice; to order, email the American distributor: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Or call 212 371-7358.
Your heirloom cookware deserves the attention and care that matches the attention to detail by which it is made. We like to say, “Show your cookware the love that it shows to you.” Always use wooden or rubber cooking utensils to protect the lining of the pot. Do not use abrasives when cleaning. Use warm soap and water, finish with a wipe of silver polish for the interior, soap and rinse again. Chefs vary in the care they give to the copper. Some love the dark colored, worn look of its use, while others prefer to polish the copper to its gleaming finish. Atelier du Cuivre offers a superb copper-cleaning product that allows you to do this is a matter of seconds, quite easily, thus removing the barrier for some to copper because of the perceived maintenance of it. (For difficult food stuck to the pot, simply put water in the pot while it’s still hot and scrape with a wooden spoon, much the same as you would for deglazing. It’s that simple.) Rinse copper with cold water. Dry immediately to prevent rust on your cast iron handles (rust is easily removed by a sponge and towel dry, should any present itself.) Do not use a dishwasher for cleaning your pots. We also recommend seasoning your cast iron handles with olive oil or dish detergent that is gently wiped off before the first use. With frequent use by chefs, the oils from their hands keep the cast iron handles in beautiful condition.
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I tried contacting Bernadette but the e-mail bounced back. Do you happen to know who the current American distributor is?
Also, I was wondering what your ideal vessel for caramel/toffee making is. I’m getting differing opinions and was curious where you stand.
– Stainless-steel lined copper or unlined copper?
– “bassine a confiture faite main”or “bol a praline”?
Thanks so much!