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Cookware 31

A Different Kind of Chili Cookoff (cladded vs. disk bottom vs. copper)

MrFettuccine | Nov 5, 201702:06 PM

Hi everyone,

I've got a lot of info here so I'll try to keep this short and sweet.

The Game
1. Observe how a cladded, disk bottom, and copper saucepan each heat a super thick chili mixture. This is on a low end closed burner gas range.
2. Try to determine if:
- The cladded saucepan really does radiate more heat from the sidewall than a non-cladded pot, as popular lore describes.
- The non-cladded pots burn their thick, viscous contents to the bottom because they don't have the heat distribution up the side like a cladded pot does.

The Players
18cm Demeyere 5-Plus. Rated at 2 quarts, stainless steel cladded aluminum. The core is 3mm and total thickness measured w/calipers is 3.2mm. See the diagram in the photos area for a breakdown of the individual layers.
18cm Demeyere Atlantis. 2.3 qt, 3.2mm thick disk bottom. Sidewall is about 0.73mm thick measured w/calipers. See the diagram.
18cm Mauviel M'150c2. 2.7 qt, 1.5mm copper w/ stainless steel interior. About 1.67mm total thickness measured w/calipers.

The Rules
Round 1: Chili
1. Fill each saucepan with 3 cans of chili (totaling 3lbs, 8.4oz) and cover. Set them aside. Turn the burner to low and heat the first pot for 20 minutes. Do not stir! When 20 minutes is up, remove from heat but keep the burner on. Each saucepan must receive the same amount of flame from the burner. Very important.

2. Use the probe of a Thermoworks ChefAlarm to take temperature readings about a third of the way up the exterior of the sidewall and 1/8" away. For precise distance, use the handle of a wooden turner as a measuring spacer for the probe. Take four readings around the circumference of the pot, equal in distance from each other like the cardinal directions on a compass. Record the maximum temperature found.

3. Dump out the chili to see the aftermath and take a photo.

4. Swirl around a little bit of hot tap water in the bottom of the pot to see what it alone will wash away. Dump it out and take another pic of what's left. That is what we'll consider to be stuck on.

5. Repeat for the second saucepan using the same burner, then the third.

Round 2: Water Boil
1. Fill a stockpot with tap water and let it sit for a while to reach room temperature.

2. Boil 48oz of water in each saucepan (starting from 65 degrees F), one at a time like was done with the chili. Of course this is after they've been thoroughly cleaned.

3. When a boil is reached, remove from heat (don't touch the burner dial!) and take a second set of air temperature readings.

4. Repeat for the second saucepan using the same burner, then the third.

Results
5-Plus
Maximum air temperature recorded for the chili was 139 degrees Fahrenheit.
Max air temp, water boil: 129 F

Atlantis
Max air temp, chili: 141 F
Max air temp, water boil: 129 F

M'150c
Max air temp, chili: 128 F
Max air temp, water boil: 133 F

Conclusion
Disclaimer: This is only one small test and I'm not saying it applies to all cookware in all scenarios.

I think that anyone preparing something heavy like this chili would realistically stir it, at least occasionally. I purposely didn't, and as the pictures show, there was chili stuck to the bottom of all three saucepans. In terms of visible amount, the 5-Plus had the least, and the Mauviel the most.

What was on the bottom of the Demeyere pots could be wiped free with a silicon spatula, and what was stuck in the Mauviel could be 'pushed' off with that same spatula. I don't think anything would have been there if I stirred the mixture a few times. Nothing was burned on, and though no soaking was necessary, the Mauviel needed slightly more wash time to get perfectly clean.

After taking the air temp readings, it occurred to me to also check the temperature of the chili by swirling the probe around in it. The 5-Plus was the coolest, ranging from the high 150's to mid 170's F. Atlantis was high 150's to low 190's and Mauviel was high 170's to mid 190's. This is after exactly the same flame, for exactly the same time.

The patina resulting from soaking hot tomato sauce into stainless steel created a sort of heat map reaching up each pot's sidewall. For the 5-Plus and Mauviel, the patina crept about halfway up the wall. (Sorry I don't have a pic of the Mauviel. I spaced out and cooked onions in it since the chili.) The Atlantis kept heat close to its heavy disk base, evident by the shorter patina. In case you're wondering, all three saucepans boil water within 11 seconds of each other, but more on that another time. ;)

The air temperature readings were not as decisive. Mauviel emitted the least heat after warming the chili, but the most after boiling water. The air near the sidewall of the 5-Plus was only two degrees cooler than the Atlantis with chili, but the two Demeyere pots were the same with water (hey, that's what the probe said), and four degrees cooler than Mauviel.

So, the assumption that a cladded pot will, as is commonly said, "heat up the kitchen" compared to a disk bottom, proved to be incorrect in this situation. However, *when left unattended* (key point), even a high-end disk bottom pot will cause more food to stick to the bottom than a cladded piece of equal quality. A thin copper pot, even more.

The other side of that coin is, the Atlantis and Mauviel heated the chili to higher temperatures in the same amount of time than 5Plus, so depending on how hot you want your chili, you may need to leave it on the heat longer with 5Plus, or less with the others. Again to emphasize, this is with zero stirring or agitation for the full heatup duration. Easy solution, stir your stuff!

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