It’s worth noting at this point that I’ve cooked on this stovetop for three years, shaking such behemoths as my 7-pound cast-iron skillet and a 13-pound-plus Dutch oven on the cooktop’s glass-ceramic surface with abandon. That three-year streak of looking perfect ended with the 3-pound Always Pan. As the stove owner, I declared the Always Pan disqualified from further testing, something I’d recommend to anyone with a ceramic stove surface, either induction or electric. It’s also worth noting that, while the Always Pan had not yet been released when I tested it, the pan I received for review was certified by an Our Place founder as being a production model.
This left me with just the “control” pan—the All-Clad that appeared mysteriously in my kitchen several years ago. I made Alton’s weeknight spaghetti sauce, using it in his chicken parmesan meatballs, which had me gently browning the meatballs, then letting them bubble away in the sauce. If it hadn’t already been in use, I could have used the All-Clad to boil the pasta.
Next, I turned to Alton’s Mussels-o-miso, where a couple pounds of mussels get a quick steam bath in a miso-beer broth, redolent with shishito peppers, garlic, and ginger. Along with making for a helluva lunch, it alerted me to the sweet spot that the 4-quart size occupies. A 2.6-quart version like the Always Pan is too small for something like this, ditto for the 3-quart version of the All-Clad, which comes in 3-, 4-, and (honking) 6-quart sizes. Four quarts for this type of pan felt perfect.
The last thing I made in the All-Clad was Alton’s onion oxtail soup, where you sear the oxtails, sauté vast quantities of onions, add wine, and pop it in the oven for a couple hours until the meat just about falls off the bone. It’s a textbook Dutch-oven braise, but the All-Clad subbed in without a hitch, and if it was this pan I was reviewing, I’d give it a 9 out of 10.
Cast as a romantic story, my relationship with my All-Clad pan would be the tale of a slow burn, where someone who’d been there the whole time, lost behind other, flashier options, suddenly became undeniable in their beauty. The folks at Our Place might need to work out some kinks in a hurry, but both the Always Pan and the All-Clad are reminders of how essential this style of pan can be.