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Cookware every man should have?

b
bigsuff Jun 4, 2007 08:20 PM

Does anyone know of a near definitive list of cookware that every bachelor should never be without?

Sure the occasional cup of Campbell's soup is fine when you're too sick to cook, but what should a guy have in his kitchen? What brands are good and will last if you're trying to build a kitchen?

When you've been out shoveling snow in the winter, raking leaves in the fall, and mowing the lawn during the summer and want to prepare a meal fit for a king, what should you have?

Furthermore, when it's time to impress that lucky lady with your ability to bring home the bacon and fry it up, what should you equip yourself to woo said fair maiden?

  1. t
    ThreeGigs Jun 7, 2007 10:58 AM

    Your most expensive items (aside from appliances) will be knives and cookware/bakeware.

    Knives: Kershaw Shun, Global, Wusthof (classic, Gran Prix, Culinar), Henckels (any twin series except twin select). In order of usefulness (my opinion, your cooking style may vary):
    Chef's knife (8, 9 or 10 inches)
    Sharpening/honing steel
    Plastic or wood cutting board.
    Utility/paring knife (4 or 5 inches)
    Medium serrated knife (6 inches, variously called serrated utility, tomato, sausage knives)
    Bread knife (95% of the bread knives out there are 8 inches, do yourself a favor and get a 10 inch bread knife)
    Short paring or birds beak knife (3 inches or so)
    Fillet knife, boning knife
    Santoku knife (7 inch)

    The chef's knife will handle almost any task, and often you'll find you just keep using it instead of getting another knife dirty. Eventually, you'll probably want a wider variety of knives, each of which is more suited to a particular task. Note the honing steel at the #2 position. Aside from maintaining your knives, it'll impress that lady when she hears the "whick whick" sound of a knife on a steel.

    You can buy a knife set if you like, but don't waste money on a big set. Over the years, most of the knives in my original set have been given away and replaced by other knives more suitable to me. Knives are like shoes in that neither one size nor style fits all. Some people love the way Global knives feel in their hand, I don't. You'll also want to buy knives that suit your cooking style. Vegetarians don't need boning knives.

    Cookware: Mauviel, Falk, All-Clad (MC2, LTD or copper core), Demeyere, LeCreuset, Lodge.

    10" fry pan
    Sauce pans: 1qt, 2qt, 3qt, 4qt (pick any two)
    8 to 10 qt stock pot
    flat griddle

    Copper is awesome, as long as it isn't thin copper. 2mm or thicker. Aluminum is almost as good as copper, but copper impresses the ladies more. You'll hear many people tell you not to bother getting a good stock pot. I disagree. For boiling water for pasta, an expensive pot is a waste. However the first time you make a stew or chili, you'll wish you had something better.

    Having a bazillion pots and pans is ridiculous, considering you've probably only got 4 burners on your stove. Once you've got the basics, you'll want to get more cookware, but not more sizes, instead you'll want different shapes and different materials. My cast iron double burner griddle sees as much use as my fry pan. As a single guy, I made a lot of stews and such and then portioned and froze them, thus the suggestion for a better stock pot. You'll eventually want a small (under 1qt) pot to heat things without exposing a lot of liquid surface area though. A 2-3qt saucier, especially a good heavy copper one, will come in handy if you make your own sauces, versus heating things from a jar. Cast iron skillets are cheap, so you'll eventually pick up a couple for their high heat and heat holding properties (can't fry pierogies in butter unless it's in cast iron!). LeCreuset makes a good dutch oven. Once you get a double burner griddle, you'll wonder how you ever managed to cook eggs over easy before. Or not spend forever cooking off a bunch of bacon. And you'll marvel at the convenience of cooking stuff on the side closest to you, and then pushing it to the back to stay warm while you cook something else. A chef's pan is also handy, as it doubles as a wok. Nice when you want to expose a lot of food to a large hot surface area while stirring. Saute pans (like a fry pan with straighter, taller sides) are also handy when making more food than will fit in a fry pan, or you need to cover something with a lid.

    Bakeware: no suggestions on brands
    9x9 pan, 9x13 pan, couple of cookie sheets. Roasting pan if you're cooking Thanksgiving turkey, prime rib, etc.

    I don't suggest a brand because they all have good and bad things about them, depending on what you're doing. I have both glass and metal baking dishes. Metal for cakes, glass for meals. Nobody makes a "good" cookie sheet. No one. A 'sensible' cookie sheet would have a bit of insulation at the edges and corners, and none in the middle. Non-stick is worthless, as it'll get scrubbed off. Stick with aluminum cookie sheets, and a metal spatula. Yes, cookie sheets are my pet peeve.

    Everything else:
    Colander - get a decent metal one. You can get really fancy and spend $150 or more on a designer Alessi colander, which has an insert so that it can double as a champagne bucket. Really cool looking.

    Wooden spoons - olive wood is nice, but I've never bought into it.

    Ladles and serving spoons - Get a good, solid, one piece ladle. Nothing worse than trying to clean nooks and crannies on utensils.

    Spatulas (scrapers) - silicone is great.

    Spatula (food turning) - get a decent restaurant style spatula (they measure about 3 inches by 6 inches, plus handle), and a smaller metal or plastic spatula. HINT: I put a 'chisel edge' on my big spatula. Nice for quickly cutting things on the double griddle, plus it lets you 'get under' food more easily.

    Shredder/grater - Microplane. 'nuff said there. Better box grater from them is awesome.

    Mixing bowls - Glass ones double as serving bowls (think salad). Buy a set of 3.

    Measuring stuff: glass 1qt measuring cup (for liquids), set of 1/4 to 1 cup measures for dry goods, set of measuring spoons.

    Tongs: look at the hinge, cheap riveted hinges suck. How sturdy is it? Can you pick up a whole 5 lb roast without bits bending? Handle comfortable? Any bits on it that'll catch fire or melt?

    Whisk: How easy is it to clean? Any parts that'll trap food?

    General advice:
    When you buy a piece of cookware or a utensil, you'll probably have it and be using it (and cleaning it!) for 20 years. Or more. That's more than 7000 days. Forgetting about 3 meals a day, if you only use something once every other day, you'll use it 3500 times. Look at every kitchen purchase with a critical eye before you buy, because if you don't, you'll either be suffering with a bad product, or missing out on the benefits that an even better product can give you.

    My "shining moment" came when I cracked an egg on a cheap 11" griddle, and egg white ran to all 4 corners of the thing, since it had warped. Turned off the stove, eggs and griddle went into the trash (note, hot griddle + plastic trash can = time for a new trash can), got in the car and bought a "good" cast iron griddle. And then threw that away after a year, because of poor design. The handles were raised, and you had to work around them when using a spatula. Sat down and figured out *exactly* what I wanted in a griddle, and found one in the form of an antique Griswold. Paid more for it than I would have for a new one (with design flaws, IMHO) in a store, but it's served me well now for the past dozen or more years. Had I simply gotten one when I first moved out, I'd have saved the money I spent on cheapie warping griddles, and had a much better cooking experience. So buy good stuff now, and reap all the benefits, instead of kicking yourself 10 years from now and looking at some new piece of cookware thinking "where have you been all my life?". Okay, maybe you won't think that. But you'll kick yourself for not getting good stuff sooner.

    1. k
      Kagey Jun 7, 2007 03:06 AM

      In a recent NY Times article, Mark Bittman outfitted a kitchen with good essentials and did it quite cheaply. You can probably do a search to find the article. It effectively neutralizes the idea that you need to spend a fortune on knives and cookware.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Kagey
        d
        DanW Jun 7, 2007 09:57 AM

        Here's that NYT article:
        http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/09/din...

      2. Vexorg Jun 7, 2007 01:34 AM

        Here's a summary of the most frequently used equipment in my bachelor kitchen: Note that most of my pans came from a Wolfgang Puck stainless steel set I got for about $100 at Sam's Club that has thus far served me well.

        Pots and pans:
        --12" stainless steel saute pan - Definitely the most versatile pan in my kitchen, and until I recently got a pair of enameled cast iron dutch ovens, I found myself using this almost every time I cooked something.
        --10 quart stockpot - For boiling stuff. Doesn't get used for much else, but it gets used plenty nonetheless.
        --4 quart saucepan - I have a couple of saucepans, but would probably be OK with just one.
        --Cast iron skillet - Mine is badly in need of reseasoning at this point, but it's also quite versatile, although it's not used as frequently as my other pans.
        --Crock pot - Great for Sunday dinner.
        -- A couple of good baking sheets - Admittedly, these get used mostly for frozen stuff in the oven, but you'll probably find use for more than one
        --Electric griddle - Not quite as frequently used as some of the other stuff, but great for breakfast food, and easy to clean.
        --Enameled cast iron dutch ovens - A chirstmas present last year. These are Lodge brand, and get used relatively frequently for braising and things like spaghetti sauce and stroganoff. If you're on a budget you can probably skip these (since even the non Le Creuset ones aren't cheap) but they're definitely nice to have, and give you the ability to make Jim Lahey's no-knead bread recipe to boot.

        Prep:
        -- A good set of stainless steel mixing bowls - These get used all the time for prep and storing food in the fridge. Mine came in a set from Costco
        --A set of ingredient bowls - Just basic small bowls of clear glass. You can use them for mise en place, and you can put them out on the table for condiments and they won't look out of place, or just use them for snacks.. I keep 8 of them in the cabinet, but rarely use more than 4 unless I'm making something with a lot of ingredients in it.
        --Cutting boards - You'll want several, to minimize the risk of cross contamination (I keep separate boards for meats and veggies.). I use the cheap flexible cutting boards from Ikea (something like $4 for 2 of them) and although they won't last you forever, they work just fine, and are cheap when you need to replace them.
        --Knives: When I moved into my own place, I bought an 8 piece Faberware Pro forged knife set (8" and 6" chefs knives, 3" and 4" paring knives, 4" serrated knife, shears, honing steel and block) for $25 at Ross (great place to shop for the basics, as long as you're not too picky. In fact, I bought probably $300 worth of stuff for my place at Ross when I moved in here.) Of these knives, I use the chefs knives on a regular basis. and the other knives infrequently. They're no Henckels or Wusthoff knives, but they've held up well (I keep them out of the dishwasher, and hone them after use.) I'll probably eventually upgrade the chefs knives to Henckels at some point, but for now these will do just fine.
        --A good colander: Shouldn't need any explanation. I find stainless steel works best.

        Dishes\silverware: Nothing fancy. My dishes and silverware all came from Ross. The silverware will probably hold me for a while, but at some point I'm probably going to need to replace the dishes, since there were some pieces broken in the box, and I will eventually need more place settings than I have. For the time being, these will work just fine though.
        --Set of steak knives: Again, nothing fancy. but you'll definitely want them around, ad most silverware sets won't include them.

        Utensils and tools:
        Indispensible items:
        -Kitchen timer (Especially for someone as easily distracted as myself, since I probably need to be reminded on occasion that I've got something in the oven or on the stove. This probably not only keeps be from burning food on a regular basis, but probably keeps me from burning down my apartment,)
        --Spring-loaded tongs: Used mostly for the grill, you'll want more than one pair.
        --Spaghetti strainer: Great for retreiving all sorts of stuff from boiling water.
        --Silicone covered spatula - I use this mostly with the enameled cast iron pots, to avoid damaging the enamel.
        --Small metal spatula - For the stainless steel pots. This one's not all that obvious, but I've got a little stainless steel spatula I picked up at the grocery store for something like $6. When I bought it, the cashier actually asked what I'd ever use it for. I'd have to say that little spatula is probably the most versatile little tool in my kitchen. It works great for deglazing, stirring, breaking up stuff in pans, scraping stuff out of cans, or even straining stuff in a pinch. I've lost count of how many times I've had to retrieve this little spatula from the dishwasher and quickly wash it...
        --Can opener - Mine came in a set of OXO stuff sold at Costco, and works quite well.
        --Peeler - Get a good one, a cheap one will either rub your fingers raw or mangle them while trying to use it.
        -Cheese grater - I'm partial to the one I got at Ikea which comes as a lid to a container for storing rhe cheese in.
        --Ladles - I have a couple of these of different sizes, and use them often.

        Nice to have:
        --Microplane grater - I use it for parimgiano and other hard cheeses, or zesting citrus.
        --Silicone spatulas - I've got a couple of these, but they all seem cheap. I haven't really found one of these I like.
        --Basting brush - I use one of the silicone ones, which is a lot easier to wash than the natural type.
        --Instant Read Thermometer - I just got a cheap instant read thermometer, and it works, but it doesn't come with anything to hold it in place.
        --Oven thermometer - I find that the oven in my apartment is somewhat less than consistent with temperature. Once I got one of these, I found that 325 on the dial ends up a lot closer to 375 in actual temperature, which explains why following the directions on a recipe can sometimes result in setting off the smoke alarm....

        Appliances and other stuff:
        -- Rice cooker - This was a birthday present before I moved in here, the result of numerous ill-fated attempts at rice cooking. I don't use it often, but it's a "set it and forget it" solution to the problem, and also works for steaming veggies.
        --Hand mixer - I'd love to have a KitchenAid mixer, but with limited counter space I'm not entirely sure where to put it, and there's also the cost. I think I'll save that for the wedding registry (assuming it ever happens.) In the meantime, a basic hand mixer will work for the few times I need a mixer.
        --Gas grill - You have to be careful, because some apartments won't allow these. Mine does though, and not only does it satisfy the whole "big hunk of meat on fire" urge, but it also comes with a side burner that's a lot better at cranking out the BTUs than my stove and keeping heat out of the house during the summer.
        --Microwave - I have a small one that I picked up for cheap, and to be honest, I think I could probably live without one. It does get used, but not as often as I might have expected when I bought it.

        That's a a fairly comprehensive list of the stuff I use on a regular basis in my kitchen. Beyond that, there's not much I can think of that I really need, and most stuff I acquire beyond that ends up being extraneous anyway.

        1. s
          soupkitten Jun 6, 2007 06:06 PM

          other folks have given you some great lists!

          i'd just like to say that the most beautiful batterie does not a chef make: the ladies will be stoked when they see your cast iron wok, german knife set or le crueset dutch oven, but if you are not proficient, they'll be let down! buy everything piece by piece (you know, add something once a month with the paycheck that doesn't go to rent) and master each as you go-- think about what you'd like to add to your kitchen's equipment as you discover which cooking styles really intrigue you-- some people can't live w/o their rolling pin and others buy store-made pastry. . .

          i'd start with good knives and a cutting board, basic pots & pans, and build from there. :)

          1. s
            swsidejim Jun 6, 2007 08:59 AM

            The same items anyone starting a home kitchen should have, it does not matter if it is a man or woman.

            1) 12" sautee pan
            2) Stock pot
            3) a chefs knife
            4) a paring knife
            5) a grill preferably charcoal
            6) tongs
            7) spatulas
            8) sauce pot
            9) cutting board
            10) wine corkscrew
            11) can opener
            12) mixing bowls
            13) roasting pan
            14) wooden spoons
            15) peeler
            16) measuring cups and spoons
            17) coffee pot
            18) toaster
            19) basic spice rack

            2 Replies
            1. re: swsidejim
              KaimukiMan Jun 6, 2007 11:17 AM

              I'm not sure I would consider a grill essential, but other than that it looks like the list. Would you accept pot-holders, a bread knife, and a caserole dish as friendly ammendments?

              1. re: KaimukiMan
                s
                swsidejim Jun 6, 2007 11:19 AM

                I agree some pot holders, a bread knife and a casserole dish are good adders.

                The grill is perhaps a personal neccesity ; )

            2. h
              Hungry Celeste Jun 6, 2007 08:45 AM

              1)a grill...gas or propane, your choice
              2)a 12" cast iron skillet, with a glass lid
              3)3 quart saucepan w/lid
              4)6-8 quart soup or stockpot w/lid
              5)8" chef's knife, 4" filet or boning knife, serrated bread knife
              6)microwave-safe pyrex measuring cup (1 & 2 cup models) & pyrex mixing bowls (the graduated kind sold three to a set)
              7)measuring spoons
              8)sturdy spatula, wooden spoon, slotted spoon, ladle
              9)cutting board
              10)8" square baking pan, 2 rimmed cookie sheets, 9x13 pan w/plastic lid

              3 Replies
              1. re: Hungry Celeste
                p
                parkco Jun 6, 2007 08:54 AM

                I didn't see it mentioned, but a great time-saver I've found (although I'm no longer a bachelor...) is a mandoline. Nice, uniform, even slices. You can get varying plates for different cutting techiniques til you get your knife control firmly in hand. It's great for quickly disposing of a lot of grunt-work cutting.

                1. re: parkco
                  h
                  Hungry Celeste Jun 6, 2007 09:21 AM

                  I cook like mad, but I don't own a mandoline. Work on your knife skills! ;)

                  1. re: Hungry Celeste
                    p
                    parkco Jun 6, 2007 09:40 AM

                    I've been cooking for almost 27 years and my knife skills are quite well practiced. :D It was just a suggestion for him to use until he got his knife control down... From his question, I took it that he was a relative novice, so the mandoline would be a good choice for ease, speed and uniformity. It's cheaper than a food processor, considerably less space-consuming, and much less intimidating for a newcomer. I also stand by my opinion that a mandoline is a time-saver for mass amounts of grunt chopping/slicing/julienning...

              2. k
                ktcolt Jun 5, 2007 09:03 PM

                everything CAST IRON - dutch oven and 10in skillet is the must have here
                anything PYREX - I think the 9x9 and the 13x9 are the most versatile and large mixing bowls
                anything OXO
                anything Le Crueset
                any knife SET - made in Solingen, Germany

                oven mitts
                silicon spatulas - cheap at Target
                wooden and plastic stirring spoons (slotted and unslotted)
                wooden and plastic cutting boards - each have their place
                crock pot - if you like to have something already ready after a long day of working
                stock pot - good for soups and boiling pastas - very versatile
                2 non stick cake pans - to bake said maiden a birthday cake!
                bottle opener
                cork screw
                automatic coffee pot
                set of 4 wine glasses - at least
                Oneida silverware
                matching place settings - get plates, bowls etc that MATCH!

                1. KaimukiMan Jun 5, 2007 12:33 AM

                  You can loose your mind on nearly necessary items, but you really need very little to get started. Think about the cooks in your family - what cooking utensil do you see them with when you imagine them cooking?

                  - A Cast Iron Skillet/Frypan - heavy duty, keep it seasoned and it will last forever
                  - Stock Pot for everything from stew to pasta, this doesn't have to be an expensive one, you will eventually want two, get the "good one" later on.
                  - Chef's Knife & Sharpener, other knives can follow later
                  - Wide Spatula for flipping whatever is in the skillet
                  - Mixing/Serving Bowl, a pyrex casserole can serve double duty
                  - Cooking/Serving Spoon
                  - Potholders
                  - Plastic Cutting Board
                  - Baking Sheet
                  - Plastic Measuring Spoons & Cups
                  - Pyrex 4 cup Measuring Cup - you will keep this forever
                  - Basic Tableware (which will do double duty in cooking)
                  - Strainer (you may not need it often, but when you do, you do)

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: KaimukiMan
                    c
                    craigcep Jun 5, 2007 12:26 PM

                    In my bachelordom, I've survived very well on a frying pan, medium sauce pan (pasta for 1), stock pot, a really cheap knife set, a grill plan (I need some steak), a cookie sheet and 9x9 pyrex baking thing (this covers anything that ever goes in to the oven. When it doesn't, I buy disposable tins), a wooden spoon, can opener, some steak knives, measuring cup, measuring spoons (not too necessary though, except when I bake) and some pyrex bowls for mixing, serving, warming up in the microwave. I have a crockpot, but I could live without it. A wok is unncessary if you have a frying pan. A strainer is good too.

                    Almost forget - bottle opener and corkscrew.

                  2. Sam Fujisaka Jun 4, 2007 10:11 PM

                    Chef knife, paring knife, cleaver
                    Stock pot, sauce pot, pasta pot, steamer insert
                    Frying pan
                    Cutting board, vegetable peeler, grater, collander, strainers, measuring cups & spoons
                    Mortar & pestle, coffee/spice grinder
                    Hand emersion blender, blender, toaster oven, microwave
                    Oven glassware, flat metal oven pans, deep oven pan, rack for chicken/turkey
                    Implements
                    Your choice for making coffee
                    Storage containers, large & small

                    $300-400 is all you need.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka
                      r
                      renov8r Jun 5, 2007 12:29 PM

                      I think that is a GREAT summary Sam! And I especially like the lack of brands. I would suggest that if you buy this stuff cheap (like even at a thift store) you will spend a lot less than $300 AND have the distinct pleasure of learning which pieces are junk and worth UPGRADING. I think all guys should learn from experience when it comes to gear -- like learning to shift a 5-speed in a used Corolla before grinding away the tranny in a Porsche! Guys love to GET BETTER TOOLS / TOYS!

                      1. re: renov8r
                        Sam Fujisaka Jun 5, 2007 08:11 PM

                        Thanks, renov8r. I cook as much as anyone I know and buy my stuff at Target when I visit the US. Swear by my KitchenAid santoku and Asian-made stainless.

                        I'm older and can have anything I want, but still prefer the 5-speed used Corolla. Used to race SCCA--my Datsuns against BMWs.

                        1. re: Sam Fujisaka
                          b
                          bbc Jun 6, 2007 06:26 PM

                          others have already weighed in with great suggestions, but if you get a grater, really, i have to suggest a microplane? it's not more expensive ($12), but it's heavenly. would you want to cut yourself & curse grating cheese (in front of a lay-dy)? unless you want her sympathy, go for the MP. you'll never go back.

                          1. re: bbc
                            j
                            jzerocsk Jun 7, 2007 06:22 AM

                            Was that an 'Allo 'Allo reference?!

                    2. luvsseattle Jun 4, 2007 10:04 PM

                      My list would go as follows:
                      a good chef's knife
                      a good paring knife
                      colander
                      good spoon to cook with
                      good spatula
                      non-stick or other small pan
                      frying pan
                      pot to boil water
                      a casserole or other baking dish

                      and to woo the woman of your dreams: a nice cocktail shaker and martini glasses ;)

                      1. r
                        rubinow Jun 4, 2007 09:33 PM

                        Do you have a knife? Spend a lot of money on that (wustoff). Get a cast iron pan (which should be cheap. any brand will do), a pot to boil water (doesn't have to be fancy. that should be cheap, too), and a sheet pan/jellyroll pan for the oven (another cheap one). You're set...just for the basics. You will want more, but with those things in your arsenal, you can do quite a bit.

                        1. h
                          howchow Jun 4, 2007 09:33 PM

                          great post. i can't imagine the number of repies. all-clad or ittala hackman.
                          stock pot
                          frying pan
                          saute pan
                          non stick pan
                          le crueset dutch oven
                          wok
                          spice grinder
                          strainer
                          bowls
                          spoons
                          knives
                          cutting board
                          grater
                          peeler
                          garlic press

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: howchow
                            a priori Jun 5, 2007 04:30 PM

                            ["all-clad or ittala hackman."]

                            Finally, a mention of ittala hackman on Chowhound!

                          2. m
                            mojoeater Jun 4, 2007 08:53 PM

                            I think every man should have a grill. I'm a woman and wouldn't want to live without one ever again. All meats taste great off the grill, and fresh veggies too. All you need is a little olive oil, salt, pepper and some herbs and every meal can taste like it was expertly prepared.

                            If an outdoor grill isn't possible, a good cast iron grill pan will suffice.

                            1. b
                              bigjimbray Jun 4, 2007 08:33 PM

                              For a single person I instructed my three sons, that the three things they need are
                              a crock pot, a cast iron skillet, and a pressure cooker. to start off with. then you
                              can build from that.

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