Nirvana in the Kitchen – A Review of the New d5 Line from All-Clad

It all started with a simple message, floating out of the darkness of the Internet: “Can you keep a secret?”

Behind those five words were an invitation to be a part of one of the largest product launches in culinary history, to have the opportunity to become the Chuck Yeager of cookware and push the envelope.  But this was no covert training program, no secret military aircraft were involved, and this was no test rocket – this was a saute pan.

Along with a handful of others, I have been selected as an All-Clad ambassador, and have had the privilege of testing a piece of their new d5 line of cookware.  Those of you who are familiar with All-Clad’s line of products are already well aware of the enhanced performance and level of control that can be achieved and, like me, are wondering how All-Clad could have possibly improved on their build quality.

Having owned a couple of pieces of All-Clad in my arsenal of well-used cookware, I was already well versed in their ability to heat quickly and evenly, so I approached testing the d5 series with high expectations.  I’m happy to say that the d5 line not only meets those expectations, it completely surpasses them.  Combining five alternating layers of high and low conductivity metals, All-Clad has created a line of cookware that excels in even heat control and stability, with a few surprising usability perks thrown in for good measure.

From a design standpoint, the d5 line sports a few highlights that are worth mentioning.  For one thing, the handles on the lids are now oversized, allowing you to slip an oven mitt-clad hand through them, which provides greater stability than using mitten-y fingertips.  A redesigned pour lip enables the transfer of hot pan sauces from any side of the pan without the associated random splattering and loss of control, like those people on late night infomercials that need locking perforated lids to avoid a trip to the hospital.  The handles are now broader, allowing for less fatigue when dancing your meal across the flames of your burners.  Fans of the ‘tip and roll’ technique of making omelets, take note.

As with prior All-Clad lines, the surface of my d5 saute pan heated quickly and evenly, and sustained sufficient temperature to maintain a steady sizzle even over medium heat.  Over a few weeks, the pan held a starring role on our stove, serving as the stage for preparation of our usual weekday dinners of chicken, fish, and the occasional pork chop.

My wife, who absolutely rules the kitchen when it comes to seafood, professed that the All-Clad d5 saute pan provided “the best skin ever” on a recent fillet of salmon, prepared simply with olive oil and some garlic.  Indeed, the salmon skin came out as crisp as pork crackling, while the flesh remained a rosy pink throughout, a testament to the ability of the pan to accommodate minor temperature adjustments.  This matched my own experience with chicken breasts, coated with salt, fresh ground pepper, and a dusting of flour – searing them in the d5 saute pan yielded evenly browned, crisp medallions that, when paired with a simple pan sauce, yielded a quick and easy dinner.  As a side note, the 2 quart saute pan is appropriate for couples and single cooks – if you are cooking for more than two people, I would highly suggest going with the 3 quart pan or larger.

Cleanup was quick and easy – since the d5 line maintains such even heating, there are no hotspots, so there are no burnt spots of food that need to be scrubbed away after the meal.  Plus, as any cook knows, the secret to easy cleaning is deglazing – why wash with water after dinner when you can wash with wine or stock and end up with a killer sauce to serve with dinner?