These are the only stainless-steel lined copper pots that I use regularly, and boy do I love using them.
|Type||Bimetal sauteuses bombées in smooth finish
with iron handles fitted with three steel rivets
|French description||Sauteuses bombées bimétalliques
avec queue en fer munie de trois rivets en acier
|Dimensions||24cm diameter by 8cm tall
(9.4 inches by 3.1 inches)
|28cm diameter by 11 cm tall
(11 inches by 3.5 inches)
|Thickness||2.5mm at rim (2.3mm copper with .2mm stainless steel)|
|Weight||2604g (5.7 lbs)||3314g (7.4 lbs)|
MADE IN FRANCE
MADE IN FRANCE
|Maker and age estimate||Bourgeat; 1990s-2000s|
Stainless steel is a marvelous material to line copper cookware: it’s resilient, non-reactive, sanitary, inexpensive to produce and shape, and abundant. My preference for tin-lined cookware is therefore not entirely pragmatic, and I freely acknowledge that a stainless-lined copper pan can approach the performance of an equivalent tinned pan closely enough as to make no difference. But think about that for a moment — tinned copper can also approach the performance of stainless closely enough as to make no difference, either. Once I’d built a good assortment of tinned copper, I set aside my stainless and I haven’t looked back.
Except for these two guys — you’d have to pry them from my cold lifeless hands.
A sauteuse bombée is a “domed saucepan.” This means it has a rounded shape, like a bowl with a flat bottom. The curved shape makes it easy to stir or whip sauces; another French name for this shape is mousseline, because it is so useful for whipping egg whites and cream for a mousse. I consider these sauteuses to be bombées and not évasées — “flared” — even though Matfer-Bourgeat in its catalog calls them sauteuses évasées. In my considered opinion, a flared saucepan is a Windsor, the conical-shaped pan with straight, if angled, sides. Foolhardy as it is for me to disagree with so storied a French coppermaker, yet must I hold to my principles. (Mauviel calls this shape évasée bombée, “flared domed,” so it’s not like there’s a single authority on this.)
The bowl shape is very useful in the kitchen. I use these for one-pot pasta: I boil the pasta, strain it, and let it sit in the colander. I put some olive oil, garlic, and tomatoes in the pot on medium heat for a few minutes to let them soften. Once they’re good and hot I put the pasta back in with a big handful of spinach or arugula, stir it, let it heat up, and then it’s done. Yum.
This is a copper pan with a stainless steel lining made of a type of sheet metal called bimetal, which is distinct from the metal in “clad” or “ply” pans. Copper-steel bimetal is a sheet of copper up to 2.3mm thick fused to a layer of stainless steel up to .2mm thick for a total thickness of up to 2.5mm. I am not aware of bimetal pans thicker than 2.5mm; it is technically challenging to bond copper to stainless, and 2.5mm appears to be the upper limit. The Belgian chaudronnier Falk was one of the first developers of bimetal bonding techniques in the 1960s, and their competitors attempted to replicate it with mixed success — there are examples of vintage bimetal pans from the 1960s that have delaminated so that the stainless lining pops right off the copper. Pans from Falk, Mauviel, and Bourgeat in the 1980s and thereafter do not have these weaknesses and are safe to buy and use.
By contrast, a “clad” or “ply” pan has multiple layers of metal (copper, aluminum, stainless steel) in various thicknesses. These pans can exceed 2.5mm in total thickness, but if there is copper in there, it is sandwiched between layers of other metal to eliminate the risk of copper-steel delamination.
Beware a “copper clad” pan that simply has a thin layer of copper electroplated on the exterior surface to make it appear like it’s made of copper. Always find out the thickness of the copper layer, if there is one, because anything below 1mm is too little copper to confer much cooking benefit. And of course we shall not dignify pans that are sprayed with copper-color paint.
As above, these guys are true copper bimetal, 2.3mm of copper with .2mm of stainless on the inside surface.
The smooth stainless lining performs better than other stainless pans I’ve used. I am not experienced with stainless steel finishing techniques, but to the best of my knowledge, a mirror polish like this is more difficult (and hence more expensive) to produce. Many stainless steel pots are milled smooth, producing a concentric ring pattern that in my experience catches food and is difficult to clean. This smooth finish seems to release food more easily.
These pots have traditional style iron handles with three rivets. I’m not sure what the rivet material is but I suspect they are steel.
The interior rivet heads are smooth. One way to recognize an older steel bimetal finish from a tin lining is to look at the crevices around the rivets. In a retinned pan, the tin will have been wiped over the rivet heads; in a steel-lined pan, the rivets are applied over the top of the lining. (Note that tin-lined pans have their rivets inserted after their initial tinning, so the rivets will lie overtop this first tinning; it’s only for re-tinned pans that the tin overlays the rivets.)
These pans carry the round Bourgeat stamp in the middle of the base, with the number corresponding to the diameter of each pan.
One potential problem with copper pans is the potential for overstamp, where the maker’s mark is applied with enough force to deform the interior lining. The 24cm has a slight overstamp as shown below, but it’s not enough for me to consider it a manufacturing defect. I’ve heard on Chowhound of other Bourgeat and even Dehillerin pans with overstamps — some of them significant enough to affect the pan’s performance — but this one is just a slight cosmetic mark.
These have been great pans for me and I use them frequently. If you can find one of these with the mirror finish interior, I suggest you jump on it, as they’re few and far between.