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What's your go-to pan?

I want to invest in a good pan that I can get as much mileage out of as possible. I'm thinking a 4 quart all-clad saute pan will be roomy and deep enough to do lots of things with. But what about sateuse pans? And is 4 quarts enough? Should I go for the 6 quart even though I have relatively small burners (apartment stovetop)?

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  1. A 4qt sauté is plenty, unless you have more than 4 people to cook for.

    They can be used as a sauté or and frying pan in a pinch, and can go into the oven as a braiser. I have the 2 and 3 quart, plus the 3qt. saucier, and they are the pans that I typically reach for.

    1. I have an All Clad chef pan, which is kind of in between a flat bottom wok and a sauté pan. You can use it for general purpose sautéeing pretty well, but it'll also work well for risottos, stir frys, etc.

      I'd say that and a cheap Lodge cast iron skillet should cover your needs pretty well.

      1 Reply
      1. re: will47

        And I have an All-Clad "stir-fry pan" which is basically a flat-bottomed wok. I use it all the time -- it and my 4-quart Cuisinart pot sit on top of the stove most of the time because there's no point on putting them away. But it really depends on you: what kind of cooking you do and how many people you're cooking for. The stir-fry pan wouldn't be nearly as useful if I were cooking for more than two, since the flat area isn't big enough to hold more than two portions when used for conventional "frying."

      2. i'll chime in as the first to mention a 10" cast iron skillet. i barely think anymore, grab it, turn on the burner and start cooking whatever.

        2 Replies
        1. re: KaimukiMan

          Me, too. I reach for that 10" cast iron skillet 2:1 over any other pot or pan I own.

          1. re: JoanN

            Oh yes, I have 9" and 12" cast iron skillets. I guess I'm in need of something with deeper sides...

        2. The pan that lives on my stove top is Calphalon Commercial Hard-Anodized 12-Inch Everyday Pan with Lid .
          Its not non stick but for some reason it is stick resistant---and for me nothing sticks to this thing. On the rare occassion it does a little Bon Ami does the trick.
          Mind you my sister got one and put it in the dishwasher---afterwards everything stuck. She bought another one and she loves it ---no dishwasher this time---and it has retained its stick resistant properties.
          Its about 4 inches deep---and I really do use it everyday---great for eggs as well as stir-frys--
          Love it and you can't beat the price---can be had as low as 19.99 on Amazon.
          Goes from the stove right into the oven with no problem and comes with a lid----

          1. I have 7 sauce pans, a saute pan and 7 or so frypans (probably 4 frypans unnecessary). For most cooks, probably 4 saucepans is the minimum. Which pan I use depends on what I'm fixing. Been using Calphalon and Magnalite anodized saucepans for 20 years (with wood spoons) with no signs of wear but dumped Calphalon frypan after surface apparently began scraping down. So now use frypans with stainless steel, enameled cast iron, nonstick (fo eggs) interiors. Sounds like you might want a saute pan (vertical sides) but that's awkward for use with a spatula.

            1. When I was cooking for just myself it was different than it is now. Then, my #1 most used bit of cookware was a Pampered Chef "skillet". A non-stick cross between a wok and a chef's pan. #2 was my double burner griddle, #3 was a stock pot (pasta mostly).

              Cooking for 3 now it's mostly a 3 way tie between a 3 qt sauteuse, 5 qt saute, and the same double burner griddle.

              Personally, I'd go for a deep-sided fry pan, with a lid. The sloped sides will make frying and flipping possible, and the extra depth will let you use it like a saute pan.

              2 Replies
              1. re: ThreeGigs

                Deep-sided fry pan with a lid makes a lot of sense. Is there a brand you like in particular? And, since you were the only one to mention the sauteuse pan - what do you think about it? Are you mostly using it for braising, or do you use as a saute pan as well?

                Thank you all so much! This is very helpful.

                1. re: margieslocal

                  Before I got the Pampered Chef skillet, I had a set of RevereWare with thick aluminum discs on the bottom. Used 'em for 18 or 19 years, and they were still in great shape when I gave them away. The frying pan in that set was a 10 inch with deeper than usual sides, although another inch in depth would have been nice. The slightly domed lid fit both the stockpot and the fry pan. I used it like a frying pan and like a saute pan, worked great. And unlike mom's Farberware, the handles never loosened up.

                  My sauteuse pans are just for liquids. The rounded bottom makes it easy to stir without missing the 'corner', fits a whisk perfectly, and there's no sharp heat spike at the bottom 'corner' where the food would get heat from both the side and bottom of a regular pot. But, they're made for sauces. About half the meals I make now involve a sauce of some sort, so they're getting used a lot, thus made my go-to list.

                  Like I said though, that 'frying' pan was more like a cross between a frying pan and a saute pan. I couldn't recommend a brand now because I don't even know who makes one like that nowadays. I had no problems with that Revereware one I had, aside from it getting too hot where the bottom plate ended and the sides began.

              2. a Spring Bro's 10' fait-tout( a slightly flared-side saute pan) it's heavy copper, and I mean heavy, with a nickel lining that evenly distributes the heat but will conduct like crazy, so that when you turn up the flame, the inside is hot, and when you turn it off, it cools almost immediately. I also have a 7" omlette pan from them and wish I could afford a whole line. I bought these at a restaurant supply house that was going out of business and had them for about 20% of regular retail. I think that I paid about $140 for both.I also love my 20 qt. Williams sonoma hammered copper stockpot that's also heavy as hell and which I got for a steal at an estate sale. otherwise, I'm pretty happy with my Calphalon hard annodized stuff. The only time I've ever had any real problem getting them clean was when I had a saucepan of apple cider on the stove that I was reducing and got called outside to deal with a small emergency, and when I got back, it had charred about a half inch deep in the bottom. Even that, I was able to get out except for a thin ring around the bottom inside edge, but whick came out eventually after about a year of cooking. That's probably way too much info but there it is.

                2 Replies
                1. re: chazzerking

                  Too much info is always welcome. What is Spring Bro's? I tried to google it and didnt have much luck.

                  1. re: margieslocal

                    Spring Brothers is a high end commercial copper cookware mfgr.I think the company is Swiss. I'm not sure they are even still in business as I purchased my pans in about 1986 or 7