When you are ready to buy new cookware for your kitchen you will find an amazing variety of products. Many people who shop for pots and pans look for durability, although durability is only one of the many elements you should consider. In this article I will go through the list of what’s important in pots and pans.
The first thing to look for is an anti-stick coating. These are almost always Teflon or some version of it. Non Stick allows you to literally cook and saute without oil or butter. Keeping the fat down is getting to be a more and more essential health issue and with a non stick pan it’s a breeze. These pans also clean up from the messiest of dishes with one swipe of a dishwashing brush.
Take a look at a good cross section perhaps at a place like Williams Sonoma or a dealer who carries a good selection, then choose a brand so that you can build your selections as a set over time. Good names are; All Clad, Calphalon and Kitchen Aid to name a few. You are much better off getting one of the commercial lines, like above, because they have features that will ensure they last. Things like extra heavy coating of Teflon and strong riveting of the handles are the norm with more expensive kitchen gear.
If price is an issue then consider this; you are much better off getting 1 good piece to start your collection. If you choose something like a 3 or 4 quart saute pan it can be used for anything from cooking eggs to doing fancy veal dishes. So bear in mind that you should start off getting durable pieces and building your collection as you go.
If you would like to do more research than just wandering around a retail store, go to the internet. Amazon especially has endless product reviews and carries an extensive supply of quality cookware. Read what others have to say and you will be up to speed in no time at all.
Here’s a shopping hint; once you have the items you want identified, take a look on Ebay they often have wholesale prices that can’t be beat.
The most popular construction materials are stainless steel and aluminum with cast iron being a distant third. In reverse order, if you are serious about cast iron then there is one brand that stands out and that is Le Creuset which is a French line of enamel coated cast iron. It’s drawbacks are it is not designed for high heat so unless you have a commercial range that’s not really a problem and it’s really heavy. On the plus side it is literally indestructible and does a beautiful job of cooking just about anything you could come up with.
Next is aluminum which is always anodized (an electrolytic coating that is hard as a rock) which creates a non porous surface that is particularly good for bonding non stick surfaces to. In other words the non stick becomes part of the pan. They are usually quite thick and spread heat well. The leader in this type of pan is Calphalon.
Last is Stainless Steel which typically does not have non stick coatings. SS cooks differently than aluminum and if you are a purist and do a lot of sautes then you might prefer this type of pan. The reason strange as it might sound is that they do stick a little bit and it these sticky remnants that can give food that oh so incredible taste like in restaurants. The other reason is that SS has a higher heat retention than aluminum and can more quickly sear food due to it’s higher heat. The leader in this group is definitely All Clad.
As an honorable mention let’s not forget copper. Copper is what the real pros cook with and there is no describing how well it cooks. But copper has issues, namely it has to be lined (with tin which wears off), as copper and food don’t go well together (except egg whites). It is also extremely heavy with a 4 quart saute pan weighing 20-25 pounds. Lastly it’s hugely expensive so unless you are determined to have all copper you should consider the alternatives. All Clad has copper models that are lined with stainless. These pans are your ideal choice if your bound and determined to have copper.
I hope this short course on pans has helped you and please, enjoy your cooking, it’s one of life’s great pleasures.