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You know when it comes to pots and pans there are various shapes, sizes, or metals (cast iron, stainless steel, nonstick, aluminum, copper) … I could go on. It’s personal. You have to like it and you have to test it out. The real question is what do you need to start up your kitchen, what is essential?
It’s all personal when it comes to cooking. In the pots and pans category, for starters, I would say, a small sauce pan (front left), a 1.5 qt pot (front right), a Dutch oven (back right), and a pasta pot IF you’re cooking for a crowd.
Sauce Pan – this little guy I picked up at Homegoods. My last one finally died. It’s nonstick and great for poached eggs, small amounts of roux, and heating up refried beans. It cleans up really well. Runs about $12.
1.5 qt Pot – I have a really old pan from my Grandmother. It’s from Club Aluminum Company. In 1923 the company introduced the Club Aluminum line into Chicago and it was sold door-to-door. Yep, that’s correct. It’s the first pot on the right in the front. It is hammered aluminum with a wooden handle and a wooden knob on top of the lid. I cook pasta, make sauces, blanche veggies, boil potatoes, and reheat soup or other leftovers. It cleans up exceptionally well. They can be found on second-hand sites, estate sales, and in resale shops. Today, Club Aluminum products are now a part of the Mirro Company. To know more just visit ehow.
It’s unbelievable that this pot has lasted this long. My Grandmother also had the copper bottom pots that I didn’t like. They were stainless steel and were quite popular in the 60’s. This is a VERSATILE pot. You can find them at all the big box stores.
Dutch Oven: The Dutch oven is an expensive pot and should be considered an investment for the future of your kitchen, BUT you can find them in resale shops, amazon, and ebay. They come in every metal possible. My mom cooked with a cast iron Dutch Oven. My sister gave me mine many years ago. I’ve cooked so much in there. I was cooking all my soups in a pasta pot before then. The great thing about this pot is that you can start the meal in the pot and finish it off in the oven. Some delicacies such as Boeuf Bourguignon, Chicken and Dumplings (very similar to my mother’s recipe), or Chicken Rice Soup. You can also make pasta sauce in it too.
Pasta Pot: With just the two of us at home there’s not much use with this big pot, but when I made Fettuccini with White Truffle Butter and Mushrooms, it saw some action on the back burner. I picked this one up at Homegoods as well. So at Target they sell it with the strainer, I purchased mine without the strainer and I use a plastic colander. It could be a 6 qt or 8qt. I’m fairly certain mine is a a 6qt.
Fry Pans: With the advent of the Cooking Channel and Food Network pots and pans are highly a regarded Cooks Tool. There is quite the diversity of styles. I listened to these folks and purchased their recommendations. In the end, when it comes to saute pans or fry pans nonstick is best. I tried the stainless steel – well it just was not clean-up friendly. I stopped using it and bit the bullet when William Sonoma had a sale, like they do now, on the Calphalon Elite Nonstick 3-Piece Fry Pan & Sauté Pan Set. That set does come with a glass lid. The nice thing about the Calphalon set is that you can start the recipe on the stove top and finish it in the oven similar to Gorden Ramsey’s Frittatas. [As an aside, looks like Gorden isn’t a big deal on Mice en Place.]
The little guy in the front, is a nonstick fry pan that I picked up at Homegoods. It’s strictly for omlettes, or frying eggs, or grilled cheese sandwiches.
Now you could probably find any of these items at Homegoods and you’d be set.
Costco has an entire set of pots and pans with way more pans than you might need. I believe every store may have that as well. Just remember you need only the essential ones to get you started. Plus, just purchasing what you need will give you the opportunity to try out the “heavy metal” style of the pan – is it for you.
Next time we’ll look at the essentials in cutlery and bakeware.