Pots and pans – Whether you’re building your first kitchen toolbox or just destroying and cleaning up old equipment, it can be hard to know which cookware you really need – and which just takes up valuable closet space. Following is the list of 8 essential pots and pans to bring dinner to the table which you really need.
1. Cast Iron Skillet
An old cast iron skillet is close to a perfect skillet. It is versatile and very affordable. The heavy skillet retains heat and distributes it evenly, so it browns well instead of burning food in some spots and pale in others. It is non-stick, and there is no surface layer to scratch off. It lasts a lifetime (or longer, as anyone who is lucky enough to have inherited grandmother’s bread knows), and gets better with age. You can use it on the stove or in the oven. It works especially well for browning, sautéing, and baking. The best cooking tools are made in the United States. Look for a heavy skillet that is at least 1/8 inch thick. New frying pans look gray and raw but turn black once seasoned. A good size for all uses is 10 or 12 inches.
2. Grill Pan
To be used on the top of the stove, a grill pan has edges that are similar to grill grates. These ridges give tempting grill marks to the food and also allow the fat to drain. Cook just about anything in a grill pan that you would normally grill, like chicken, vegetables, skewers, and even fruit. We prefer cast iron skillets because they conduct heat well and cook food evenly. For “grilling” for a crowd, choose a skillet that fits both burners.
3. Baking Pan
Sturdy and practical baking pans are ideal for cooking large pieces of meat, such as a whole turkey or chicken, breast, or pork fillet. The sides of the pan are low enough to allow the meat to brown while preserving the tasty cooking juices. The size of a roasting pan allows you to grill the meat and vegetables together, and it can be transferred to the stove to make sauces from the pan (removing the meat and vegetables first). You can also use the skillet to bake lasagna or large batch pans. To avoid burns and warping, choose a thick bottom pan. We prefer models without a non-stick surface because they are more suitable for making a sauce. Finally, look for the size that fits your oven. (Usually, a 16 to 13-inch working pan) with pins that are easy to hold.
4. Frying Pan
The wide, flat bottom 10 to 14-inch frying pan offers a larger heating surface. It is ideal for frying, cooking pasta, and all kinds of dishes. Look for materials that heat quickly and retain heat, especially stainless steel with aluminum or copper cores. A pan must be secure in the oven with the elaborate handles or welded to the side. It should feel comfortable as well.
The original 3 to 4-quart pots have high sides that prevent rapid moisture loss, which is all you need for steaming, blanching, making sauces or soups, or making tofu, lemons, or pastry creams. The wall should be as thick as the bottom for consistent heat distribution. Do not use steel pots or aluminum pots in general. The reaction surface can change the color and change the flavor of butter and tomatoes. Make sure that the person you buy has a lid.
A 10-quart pot is used for cooking large quantities. It has plenty of space for a lot of soup and has enough water to boil up to 2 pounds of pasta. It is also good for making stocks. A fine-gauge pot is fine if you only use it for pasta, but if you plan on making soups and broths, you’d better take a heavy pot. Handles must be durable to withstand years of heavy work.
7. Dutch Oven
This pot has a bottom and slips with a tight lid for walking and humidity Without the lid, it is perfect for browning meats or vegetables on the stove, and you can also go to the oven for even cooking. Look for a 5 to 6-quart heavy Dutch oven made of enameled cast iron. The sides and bottom should be thick to retain and distribute heat evenly and to avoid hot spots. The handles and knob must be strong and oven resistant.
8. Nonstick Skillet
Use a non-stick cooker of 10-12 inches, preferably with a ceramic coating, for breaded products, seafood, and eggs. You will need less fat and will spend less time cleaning. You can also sauté meat and vegetables, but they won’t caramelize as well as in a regular pot. To maintain the coating, do not use metal utensils and do not place them in the dishwasher. Soak and clean with a soft, damp dishwashing cloth (without abrasives).
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