Get out of my kitchen
The All-Clad I do have I've picked up at a Williams-Sonoma outlet and it's still pricey. So I'm looking at the Cuisinart MCP-12 Multiclad Pro Stainless-Steel 12-Piece Cookware Set for $299 and thinking that's a great price.
The Cuisinart Multiclad looks comparable to the All-Clad and I couldn't find any red flag dissenting reviews. Maybe a tad lighter. Both can withstand temperatures above 500 degrees, so are heavy-duty and versatile. That's one of the main features that was keeping me away from some of the less expensive lines of stainless steel; such as Emerilware, for example. Even though Emerilware is made by All-Clad, the pans aren't cladded. Most pans that aren't cladded recommend never being heated higher than 450 degrees.
Quick check to make sure no one's giving me All-Clad for Christmas. No? Slightly disappointed. No problem, I'll get the Cuisinart. There's also a pricier line of Cuisinart multiclad TPC-7. Can't find anything that explains what the difference is and at the TPC-7 price I'd just go ahead and get the MCP-12.
Bonus points for Amazon.com: I chose the free shipping option, 5-9 days, and the box was at the door in 3 days! Unwrapped everything, gave it a quick rinse, and put it on the racks. Looks real nice next to the All-Clad, has a comparable heft, and so far I have no complaints with how it cooks. Basically considering the crap I've been cooking on, anything would be an improvement, but this does seem as good as anything I've used in those high-priced cooking classes.
Looks like I'll be cooking Christmas dinner and Instapundit's Roast Lamb looks good. Though I'll be using a charcoal grill instead of gas, so more of a smoky flavor. Maybe if I use Bainbridge on Wine for the Merlot recommendation, I can make this an internet/blogger dinner.
Other cookware notes: I like to have a few pans of non-stick around, but I'm not a fan of Calphalon - pricey and stuff sticks. Never been impressed with the couple pans we have and I'll be rotating them out to the donate pile. Since non-stick surfaces eventually wear out, I've come around to the point of view that cheaper is better and just get new ones every few years. I also prefer something slicker than the hard-anodized surfaces of the Calphalon. At Target this Farberware at $40 or the T-Fal at $20 are good buys. The KitchenAid ceramic surfaces also look nice.
Also took the opportunity to order Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn. And the Unmentionable Cuisine I came across when researching my Dinner and a Movie post.