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Copper cookware: More than just pretty pots

Copper cookware offers real cooking benefits for dedicated chefs.

Sure, copper cookware looks great hanging on a pot rack in your kitchen. Very classy. But have you ever used the stuff? Turns out, it's actually pretty useful.

Look at that shine! Amazon

Many of the world's best chefs swear by copper cookware for its superior heat-conducting ability. Quick, uniform heat diffusion across the bottom and sides of a pot or pan can mean the difference between a heavenly sauce and a lumpy paste. When you're making a delicate sauce that demands even heat distribution--think hollandaise--or whipping up some paper-thin crepes, copper is the way to go.

Copper cookware can also give a better sear on meat and cook dishes faster. And copper serving plates hold the heat and look great on the table.

You can bring some of this finery to your own kitchen and dining room with your choice of two lines of copper cookware available from All-Clad Metal Crafters. The Cop-R-Chef line of pots, pans, and skillets is clad with a copper exterior, lined with aluminum, and has a stainless steel heating surface. A second version, Copper-Core, sandwiches a solid copper insert between interior and exterior layers of stainless steel to improve heat dispersion.

Copper cookware isn't cheap--open stock pieces run about $125 to $350 per pot--but they'll last for years. If you take pride in your culinary skills, put a copper pot on your holiday wish list.