Risotto Pot Challenge

Emile Henry, All-Clad go head-to-head

 


It’s not often that I buy into gimmicks and I must admit that I’m very stubborn when it comes to change. The fact is that I’ve used All-Clad pots and pans for over eight years now. Why? Because I know I can depend on them. They have the reliable track record, high quality construction and a lifetime warranty that covers anything but damage resulting from abuse. The sauté pan is practically an extension of the chef’s arm, just as much as a sword is to a samurai.  You get to know the weight, the balance and the imperfections. 

For the last five years, I have always used an All-Clad 4-quart saucier whenever I’ve made risotto. For me, it was the perfect pan for this preparation. The high gauge steel makes for good conduction of heat, the sides flare out at a gentle angle, which aids in stirring the rice, and the size allows for larger portions or helps to avoid spills when the stirring gets a little wild in the heat of battle. The perfect match, right? Maybe, or so I thought.
Related Imagery
Risotto Prep Side-by-Side
Risotto Cooking Side-by-Side
Risotto Finishing Side-by-Side
Finished Risotto

Check out Eric Guido's Master Class: Risotto


Imagine my fascination when I learned that Emile Henry had a pot designated as a ‘risotto pot.’  My initial reaction was to blow it off. How could someone make a better risotto pot? But then curiosity began to sink in and, before I knew it, I had set up an Emile Henry versus All-Clad risotto pot challenge.

The first thing that makes the Emile Henry risotto pot different is that it’s part of their “Flame Top” line, made from a ceramic that is able to withstand gas, electric and halogen stove tops.  The benefit of ceramic is its absorption and even distribution of heat. Some of my favorite cooking vessels are ceramic, but none of them permit me to place them over a burner.  I’ve used them for all manner of baked goods, casseroles and quiche, but never would I think to throw one over a burner and sear off a steak. The ability to place this pot on a range was a huge benefit and one that immediately piqued my interest. 

Also, the size was the exact size that I chose five years ago to use for making risotto. When you look at the pictures of the All-Clad and the Emile Henry next to each other, you see that someone was thinking along the exact same line as I was when they designed this to make risotto. The gentle slope of the high sides of the pan allows the same control of the rice through the stirring process; the ceramic lends to slow and even heat distribution (much better that stainless steel); and the pot isn’t so heavy that it becomes a nuisance to move around. The one flaw I found with the Emile Henry is that the handles became much hotter during the cooking process than the normal home cook would expect; and so, I would recommend using a hand towel (something professional chefs are never without).

So what about the food?

The Emile Henry risotto pot produced a lighter yet creamier sauce, smoother rice and a much more even consistency than the All-Clad. I honestly couldn’t believe it. Each dish was made with the exact same ingredients over the exact same temperatures. Yet somehow, the Emile Henry managed to better infuse the stock into the rice, whereas the All-Clad seemed to reduce more stock into the air. The rice was still al dente, yet with a succulent quality and velvety mouthfeel.  All tasters agreed that it was a superior bowl of risotto on the consistency and mouthfeel alone.

The end result is that I’ll be using the Emile Henry in my home, going forward, and I plan to look into some of their other products as well.

Disclaimer: Eric Guido received the pot from Emile Henry to review at home. All opinions expressed here are his own.

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Comments

  • Snooth User: Kate Statton
    Hand of Snooth
    853836 1,079

    I really enjoyed this article, thanks for the insightful tips!

    Sep 09, 2011 at 3:09 PM


  • Very interesting write-up. I use a Calphalon Tri-Ply Stainless Steel 3-qt "Chef's Pan (very similar to the All-Clad saucier, if a tad smaller) for which I paid $60-$70. Perhaps the article could have been a bit more informative if the price for both the All-Clad & Emile Henry "risotto pots" had been included.

    Sep 09, 2011 at 4:44 PM


  • Snooth User: mickeybdc
    475997 6

    My Le Creuset 7 qt works best. I've also made it successfully in my 7Qt All Clad Slow cooker and when rushed have a good recipe for the microwave, believe it or not

    Sep 09, 2011 at 4:47 PM


  • I enjoyed the write-up very mch. I use my inexpensive Costco ($50.00) 6 qt Dutch Oven to make risotto, and it turns out simply wondefful every time. However, I think I'll look into the Emile Henry pot, and see what it's about.

    Sep 09, 2011 at 5:18 PM


  • Snooth User: cleongatl
    519139 16

    He failed to account for and adjust for differences in temperature that each pot transfers to the food. Hardly empirical nor Apples-apple comparison.

    Sep 09, 2011 at 6:18 PM


  • Snooth User: Eric Guido
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    92549 168,578

    Cleongati, all I can say is that, as someone that makes risotto nightly, I kept both pots at as much of a consistent cooking temp as I could. This was not done just from the size of the flame, but also from my eyes watching as the risotto cooked (the amount of bubbles, the frequency of stock absorbing). This is in no way meant to be a scientific experiment but I did my best to keep it as close as possible.

    Sep 09, 2011 at 9:19 PM


  • Snooth User: suzee Q
    931950 0

    I have always used an AllClad chef's pan (10+ yrs.). True, I think the stock is evaporated more quickly (therefore I use a little more liquid), but when space and cost is an issue, I can't have one pot for one specific dish. Though when risotto=love in my mind....something to think about.

    Sep 10, 2011 at 10:33 AM


  • Snooth User: vteyedoc
    118468 2

    My favorite risotto cooker is LeCreuset Signature Braiser (currently $210 at Williams-Sonoma).

    Sep 14, 2011 at 2:03 PM


  • Snooth User: mrdhouston
    957887 17

    Eric: did you use the Emile Henry Induction Disk underneath the risotto pot?

    Nov 02, 2011 at 8:10 PM


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