Thanks to everyone who responded to my earlier post. Being a total newbie, I didn't realize how broad my question was until I asked. So, thank you all for your patience and insight.
With your help, I've been able to narrow down my first purchase to either a braiser or a rondeau pan. Of course, I could totally be wrong in comparing these two. If so, I'm sure someone will let me know!
Originally, I had my heart set on the LC 5 qt braiser for about $250 (on amazon...I do have an outlet store nearby so could possibly get a seconds for less) I love the look of LC, it inspires me, but after reading MANY posts here (I think its safe to say, I've taken this research to an unhealthy level =0) I'm thinking SS might be a better material for my purposes. But, not sure. So far I've found the Sitram rondeau $180 (thanks to E_M), AC braiser (seconds) $150, and the LC braiser $250, and AC rondeau $240 (this was just the 1st price I found, could probably shop around for better)
Assuming these two are comparable, which of these pans do you think is the most versatile?
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