Kitchen Tools: Pots and Pans Part 2

Earlier this week we talked about what to look for when purchasing pots and pans.  Today I’m going to go over the cookware I use, and why it’s so useful.  A well-stocked collection of pots and pans will really help in the cooking process, not only to be able to do multiple dishes at once, but also so that everything cooks in the manner it’s supposed to (sautéing in frying pans, braising in dutch ovens, etc.).  Of course, this is just what works for me, and it may be different for you.  I’m simply sharing what I like in hopes that it helps others curate their own collections.

*Note: I’m giving brands NOT because I was asked to/am paid to (I wasn’t and I’m not), but to give you an idea of what we use and like. There are other good brands out there, and I recommend you look for what works best for your price point and needs.

Without further ado, here is what we use the most:

Pots

  • 1 1.5 quart saucepan + lid (part of our Calphalon set) – for small batches of rice, oatmeal, tomato sauces, etc.
  • 2.5 quart saucepan + lid (part of our Calphalon set) – for larger batches of the above and for soups
  • 1 6 quart stock pot + lid (part of our Calphalon set) – to make stocks (wow! imagine that!)
  • 1 6 quart enameled dutch oven + lid – for soups, stocks, braises, roasts, bread, and anything else that benefits from being cooked on the stove and then pushed into the oven.

Pans

  • 1 10-inch frying pan – called omelet pan in the industry  (part of our Calphalon set), for browning chops, cutlets, stir-fries, schnitzel, and, well, frying things.
  • 1 3 quart saute pan – like a frying pan but has straight sides, for making simple braises and cooking things that need a lot of surface area like a frying pan, but also need some height on the sides to keep the food in. I love to make noodle dishes in here, especially when I’m tossing the noodles with the toppings at the end.
  • 1 8-inch (or 10-inch, as you wish) non-stick omelet pan – for omelets, scrambled eggs, rösti and crepes, not much else.
  • 1 untreated/unseasoned cast iron frying pan (season it yourself) – we got our unseasoned Lodge frying pan at TJMaxx for $6 and it’s the best pan in the house, for pretty much anything except acidic foods (no tomato sauce): use it for bacon, fried eggs (not scrambled, see above), pancakes, cutlets, steaks, corn bread, heating flatbreads such as pita, and cooking just about anything else. A seasoned cast iron browns meat really well. This is our favorite pan in our collection, hands down, and always stays on top of our stove ready to go. Be sure you only clean it with water (no soap!), wipe it dry, and swish it quickly with a lightly oiled cloth after each use to maintain the seasoning. A well-seasoned pan over time becomes almost jet-black.

On Lids
We have only four lids (the ones that came with our pots). The large stock pot lid fits our frying and saute pans nicely, and we rarely have to use two lids at once.  However, if you feel the need, you can buy extra lids for your pans from almost every company.

Things I Find Less Useful

  • Anything with only one use (e.g. fold-over omelet pans, egg poacher) – we call this “David’s Rule” in my house
  • A wok – a lot of people find these really useful, we just never used ours. That said, my mom uses a semi-wok semi-sauté pan that Calphalon calls an “Everyday Pan” and loves it.
  • 8-inch regular frying pan – This came with the Calphalon set, and I don’t find as much use for this because it’s too small. The only thing I like to use it for is to pop mustard seeds when making raita. I can easily do that in another frying pan or sauce pan though, so I don’t find ours useful.
  • 12-inch non-stick pan – I bought David a set of two non-stick cooking pans (a 10-inch and a 12-inch) and I just don’t like the 12-inch. It’s just too big.  David disagrees, so there you have proof to take all this with a grain of salt!
  • Double boiler – I flip-flop on this one because my parents have one and I like using it, but lack of space has won out so far. Generally I just place a metal bowl over my 1.5 quart saucepan and call it a double boiler. Works for me, and I’ve used the method to dip 300+ chocolates in one go, so I think it’s good enough.

 

So tell me, what’s your favorite pan in your collection? Where do you buy your cookware? What do you stay away from?

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