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Does it ever seem like the simplest dishes require the most pans?

Tonight I am making enchiladas with chorizo. So a pan to brown the chorizo in, another to heat the oil to prepare the tortillas. Since there is plenty of chili spicing in the chorizo I am making a creamy cheese sauce to top them so that is another pan and then the baking dish. 4 pans of different sizes to make one simple dish. I am generally a very efficient cook but this seems highly inefficient to me.

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  1. i hate that!
    and yet sometimes the most complicated dish with the most ingredients needs only one or 2 pots

    1. The way I cook, all the dishes require the most pans. I don't know what my problem is - I just seem to need to get everything dirty. I always start "cleaning up as I go" but then toward the end things just speed up and multiply at a dizzying pace.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Snackish

        I swear my mother could get every pan in the house dirty boiling water. I think since I was often on hand to clean up it made me so much more efficient. She grew up with and as a young married had lots of household help. After my early teens and moving to the NE wherre there was no rlialble houlshold help she never thinking someone is going to have to clean this up. So the tidy and be efficient bug never got to her. Hey! I was there to do the clean up. Make all of the messes you want, and prior to me were the maids to do the clean up.

        1. re: Candy

          We must be cousins!! My mom was the same way. She loves chinese food so taught herself how to cook it, she must have made 3-5 different entrees and 2 dim sum every Friday night. OMG, I thought I'd never get to go away to college because I'd never finish doing the dishes. Learning about keeping a running clean a an adult was a true epiphany for me.

          1. re: free sample addict aka Tracy L

            A lot of Asian food just takes the wok (well, okay, the pot for rice). Even though you chop and chop and chop (and chop), you can usually get away with just that one wok for pan clean up.

            But if your Mom was making such a spread - yeah, I can see that all those woks and steamers would be a PITA at the end of a meal.

          2. re: Candy

            My SO makes the most divine meals, but he ALWAYS makes the biggest mess along the way. I'm a much neater cook, but not as good. When we cook together, I basically just follow him around and clean up after him. We had a few friends over for dinner last night. He made a relatively simple meal. I spent 3.5 hours cleaning the kitchen afterwards! Sigh.

        2. One of my favorites is Hungarian Mushroom Soup. Takes two pans. In one pan you saute stuff, in the other pan you make white sauce, then ultimately it all goes together in one pan. I'm going to have to spend some time figuring out how to streamline that.

          2 Replies
          1. re: revsharkie

            How about making the mushrooms first, putting them aside for a bit, wiping out the pan, then making the white sauce in the same pan? It's all going to combine any way. I would use a dutch oven or a ceramic pot for it.

            Queen of the small kitchen, one sink cuisine here.

            1. re: bryan

              After you saute the mushrooms and onions, you add stock and other liquids and simmer it for awhile. So it's not really just a matter of taking the mushrooms and setting them aside.

              From time to time I just make the white sauce right there, mixing flour into the pan after the onions & mushrooms have sauteed awhile, and then I only need one pan.

              I just got a new cookbook a couple weeks ago: "One Dish Meals" from the Culinary Institute of America. Calling them one-dish meals is a bit of a stretch. Maybe it only cooks in one pot, but there's an awful lot of prep involved in all of them, and most of that prep dirties other dishes, even if they're mixing bowls and platters instead of post and pans.

          2. Scallops over mushroom risotto. Four pans. Two cutting boards, plus utensils.

            Hey life could be worse, TV Dinner, no pans. I'll take the trade anytime.

            1. How about using 7 skillets to make an omelet? ;-)

              3 for each color of diced or stripped bell peppers. (red, yellow, green)
              1 for the meat
              1 for mushrooms
              1 for onions
              1 (finally) to make the omelet in.

              Hey! Thats not all if we include the "all" the individual cutting boards, bowels, and knives.

              When ready for serving it is important to use 7 plates as any ingredent contaminates the other.

              I think we need to put 7 forks in it...

              1. As people have mentioned, I do think the less familar you are with the cuisine or dish the faster the pots and pans stack up. I think it has to do with timing. If you know the dish or cuisine your timing is on and you can clean as you go and you're generally sorted. If you're not familar you're absorbed by the process, ingredients and time and things run amok quickly. I once witnessed this watching one sister cook Thai food at another sister's house and it was like a tornado hit the place.

                1. I agree with ML8000 about having a few minutes here and there to clean up if you know the process, but I want to add that you can't use 7 skillets unless you own 7 skillets. If you've seen the threads about knives, many people use one knive for everything, washing it between uses. That can be applied to many of your tools.
                  I've often wondered if it's less work to make a meal and clean up (before it's served) or clean up after my wife has made the meal.

                  1. as i only own one skillet, (my cast iron ones disappeared in the move!!!) a wok, several pots and an electric griddle. i can't make too many pots dirty, usually my meals only dirty the wok or skillet, and one pot.
                    i would much rather wash plates and mixing than pots, they seem to be much easier and things don't stick as bad.

                    1. Today I was making lasagna. Making Marcella's simple tomato, butter and onion sauce, pot 1. My DH decided he wants some meat in the lasagna, I was going for quattro formaggio, so a skillet,pan #2. Pan #3 to boil the noodles and then the casserole dish, #4. Plus cutting boards etc. Yes I clean as I go along, but there it is suddenly the pile. Everything but the baking dish is cleaned and put away......I guess I just have to multi-pan.