The Essential Kitchen: Pots and Pans I

Tools For a City Cook's Kitchen

The Essential Kitchen: Pots and Pans I

Tools For a City Cook's Kitchen

Equipping a kitchen is very personal.  Having the right tools can make all the difference in both the experience of cooking and the result.  The pots and pans that are best for you depend upon what and how you cook and since city cooks don't have lots of storage space, we have to choose wisely.  But there are basics that everyone needs and then there are the extras.

When buying cookware, resist the lure of those pre-selected sets.  The price may seem compelling but I promise you that at least one piece will end up never used.  Instead, buy exactly what you want and you'll get more value.

It is my personal bias to not use non-stick.  I just don't trust that the surface won't come off into whatever I'm cooking so I'd rather use a small amount of oil in a stainless steel pan or a well-seasoned cast iron.  The exception I make to this is to have one 10" non-stick frying pan just for eggs.  I buy the Lincoln WearEver brand which sells for about $46 at Broadway Panhandler and replace it as soon as it starts to look funny, which is about once a year.

For everything else, there are several good manufacturers.  My personal favorite is All-Clad for almost everything.  I also love Lodge for cast iron and Le Creuset for enameled cast iron and Pillivuyt or Emile Henry for oven-proof porcelain.

Unless there's a dish you make frequently that requires a specific pan, say paella, be sure that each piece you buy gives you multiple uses.  For instance, a ceramic rectangular pan can be used to roast a small chicken, make lasagna and gratins, or bake fish with tomatoes.  A loaf pan is perfect for meat loaf but also banana bread or a vegetable paté.

The Basics

For most cooks, these are the essentials:

Tip: I use this pan more than anything else in my kitchen; it has a surface like a fry pan, it takes a cover, the straight sides help reduce sauces, it's deep enough to poach or steam in, and you can start on top of the stove and finish in the oven

Tip: A 12" fry pan can take the place of both the sauté pan and a small roasting pan -- it's extremely versatile except that it doesn't take a cover

Tip:  A square grill pan more easily accommodates foods that are grilled than a round one.


Remember:  always buy the best quality you can afford and select pieces that you love and think are beautiful. 

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