Choosing Pots and Pans to Improve Your Cooking Professional3 weeks ago - Multimedia - Battambang - 8 views
A few well-chosen pieces—starting with a good stockpot and a heavy sauté pan—can make a big difference
As a Fine Cooking editor, I’ve had the chance to observe lots of great cooks at work. From them, I’ve learned plenty—including the fact that good-quality pots and Frying Pans made of the right materials really can improve your cooking.
Rather than having a rack filled with pots and pans of all shapes and sizes, owning a few well-chosen pieces will give you the flexibility to cook whatever you want and the performance you need to cook it better.
I polled some of our authors to find out which Cartoon Mini Egg Pans were the most valuable to them and why. I then came up with six pieces, starting with two indispensables: an anodized-aluminum stockpot to handle stocks, soups, stews, some sauces, blanching, boiling, and steaming; and a high-sided stainless-steel/aluminum sauté pan with a lid for frying, deglazing sauces, braising small items like vegetables, making sautés and fricassées, cooking rice pilafs and risottos, and a whole lot more. The other four pieces I picked make for even more cooking agility and add up to half a dozen ready-for-action pots and pans that you’ll really use (see For every pot, there’s a purpose…).
For every pot, there is a purpose…
The letters identifying the pots key to the photo below.
A. Calphalon 8-quart (or bigger) stockpot, with lid. Simmer soup or cook a big batch of tomato sauce in this sturdy, nonreactive stockpot. It will do double-duty for boiling pasta and steaming vegetables, too.
B. All-Clad 3-quart sauté pan, with lid. Stainless coating with aluminum sandwiched all the way through makes for a responsive, durable, attractive Grill Pan. Great for frying, deglazing, and, of course, sautés. And it goes from stove to oven.
C. Mauviel Cuprinox 3-quart stainless-lined copper saucepan, with lid. Top-performing copper is heavy-duty and responsive, with a shiny stainless interior that’s easy to see into and durable. Copper tarnishes easily, but when it’s cared for, it looks great.
D. Lodge cast-iron skillet. Old faithful needs thorough drying and constant seasoning, but nothing takes high heat better, holds it as long, or puts a better crust on cornbread. It’s durable — and cheap, too.
E. Le Creuset oval enameled cast-iron casserole, with lid. Great for stove-to-oven roasts and stews and long, slow simmering. Its light-colored interior makes it easy to see into for deglazing sauces.F. Circulon Commercial nonstick skillet. This heavy-weight nonstick stands up to high heat and wear, goes from stove to oven, has an easy- gripping handle, and cooks delicate omelets as well as Cajun pork chops.
All good pans share common traits
In a well-stocked kitchen store, you’ll see lots of first-rate pots and Square Grill Pans. They may look different, but they all share essential qualities you should look for.
Look for heavy-gauge materials. Thinner-gauge materials spread and hold heat unevenly, and their bottoms are more likely to dent and warp. This means that food can scorch. Absolutely flat bottoms are particularly important if your stovetop element is electric. Heavy-gauge pans deliver heat more evenly (see “Good pans are worth their price…,” below).
To decide if a pan is heavy enough, lift it, look at the thickness of the walls and base, and rap it with your knuckles—do you hear a light ping or a dull thud? A thud is good in this case.