When it comes to buying pans it’s very true that you pay for what you get. If you pick up a pan from the supermarket, it might perform well in the short term, but longevity-wise it’s not going to hit the spot.
Of course we haven’t all got the cash to be splashing out hundreds of pounds on a new set of high class pans, but a recent trip to Whatley Manor in Wiltshire was pretty eye opening.
American pan makers and metal crafters All-Clad packed a group of seven food bloggers and journalists off to the beautiful property so they could demonstrate their equipment to us in Martin Burge’s two Michelin starred restaurant kitchen.
Before he’d even got the pans on the go, the down-to-earth chef very simply demonstrated how the cookware he’d originally bought for his kitchens had worn out in just a few years – blackened and warped, compared to the All-Clad set which still looked sleek, shiny and brand new.
The technology that goes into the pans is quite remarkable. When you delve into the company’s 40 year history, you’ll find metal experts who spent years experimenting with bonding different metals together. One of the Pitsburgh-based company’s claims to fame was helping transform US currency from silver coins to the bonded layered metals in circulation today.
This science was then transferred to making pans that could perform in the professional kitchen by bonding together different metals in one pan. The pan then gains the benefits of all three materials, and therefore not only performs brilliantly but is also a more practical and hard-wearing piece of kit than if it was made of one metal alone.
The road test
We were let loose on the pans when we were all paired up to cook a DIVINE dessert of pear and blackberry gratin in Martin’s professional kitchen. There were many components of the dish to make and lots of processes to get our heads around, but the results were definitely worthwhile.
I teamed up with Helen of Fuss Free Flavours, who was suffering with a dodgy wrist and ankle, but still managed to put in a stirling effort.
The pans heated up super quick, so there wasn’t much hanging around and when our caramel went slightly wrong (twice) the pans cleaned up when simply rapidly boiled up with some water.
The prep bowls were utterly lush – sleek stainless steel with little handles that made them a dream to work with. Heat resistant too so ideal for making sauces and melting chocolate.
Whisking a very technical thing called a ‘sabayon’ by hand was really really hard labour – I’m super lazy as I always use my electric mixer for these type of jobs, but it was good to get back to basics and get a better technique. There were a few exceptionally gallant members of Martin’s kitchen team on hand to take turns with the whisking 😉
Our versions of the desserts came out pretty good (in the end) and it really was superb cooking in a professional kitchen with such experienced chefs showing us the ropes.
I was hugely impressed with All-Clad pans and would definitely say that while they’re hardly cheap they’re a great investment because you wouldn’t need to replace them after 5 years like their cheaper counterparts.
If you’re putting a wedding list together – get them on there!
If you fancy trying to make Martin’s dessert at home, it’s quite a bit of work but insanely gorgeous. It’s one to impress your foodie friends with so here’s the (very long) recipe:
Pear and blackberry gratin
Recipe supplied by Martin Burge at Whatley Manor
Ingredients for the pear sorbet
100g Pear puree
220g Caster sugar
10g Inverted sugar
Method for the pear sorbet
Place the pear puree, caster sugar, glucose powder, inverted sugar and water into a 4 quart All Clad saucepan and bring to the boil. Prepare a bowl of iced water. Pass the mixture through a sieve and cool over the bowl of iced water. When the mixture is chilled churn in an ice cream machine. Store in the freezer until ready to use.
Ingredients for the shortbread
170g Plain flour
45g Caster sugar
Method for the shortbread
Bring the butter, plain flour and the salt into a paste and roll out to half a centimetre thick. Clingfilm the mix and place in a refrigerator for one hour. Take a suitable cutter and cut your shortbread to the required size. Place the rolled shapes onto a baking tray and bake in a pre-heated oven set at 120 degrees Celsius for fifteen to twenty minutes. Set aside on a cooling rack until ready to use.
Ingredients for the poached pears
2 William Pears
300g Caster Sugar
20g Lemon juice
Method for the poached pears
In a large 2 quart All Clad sauce pan place the caster sugar, water and lemon juice and whisk the ingredients well. Peel the pear with a sharp knife and cut lengthways removing the core with a small knife and a parisienne scoop. Place the pear halves into the mixture making sure the flat side is facing up. Cut a disc of silicone paper the size of the top of the pan to cover the pears. Once this is done place the pan onto the heat, just before the pears have come to the boil turn the heat right down so that the water solution is at a very slight simmer. Do not boil the pears as this will over cook the outside and the inside will still be hard. Cooking time for the pears are dependant on the size and ripeness therefore check the pears every five minutes with a small knife. Once the pears are soft remove them from the heat and allow them to cool down. Remember the pears will continue to cook slightly as they cool down.
Ingredients for the poached blackberries
20g Caster sugar
50g Crème de mure
method for the poached blackberries
Place the caster sugar into a 2 quart All Clad saucier and melt the sugar until a blonde caramel is visible. Gradually add the Crème de mure until all of the sugar has dissolved and a syrup has formed. Add the blackberries and mix the ingredients together carefully then remove from the heat.
Ingredients for the sabayon
4 Egg Yolks
200g Stock syrup
Method for the sabayon
In an All Clad mixing bowl whisk the egg yolks, stock syrup and the alcohol together. Prepare a 4 quart All Clad saucepan of hot water and place on a low heat to simmer. Place the bowl on the pan of lightly simmering water and whisk the ingredients together to form a ribbon consistency. Remove the bowl from the heat and continue to whisk until the sabayon has cooled slightly.
Assemble the dish
Slice half a pear into six slices and drain on kitchen paper. On a suitable plate place the pear segments leaving enough space for a blackberry in between each slice of poached pear. Spoon the sabayon over the sliced pear and the blackberries. Place the plate under a grill until the sabayon is lightly caramelised. Place the shortbread in the middle of the plate. Make a sorbet ball with an ice cream scoop and place on top of the shortbread. Place a sprig of fresh mint on top of the pear sorbet to finish the dish.