Confused newbie- pots, pans, etc! [Moved from General Topics board]
I am new to cooking (just left college). I would like to buy some kitchen basics- pot, stir fry or sautee pan (not sure if there is a difference, pan. I have tried to read the past forums on cooking supplies and am left more confused then ever. I read about all-clad, staineless steel, corningware, nonstick, cast iron, and more! I have no idea what I am doing. I realize some are supposed to be expensive, but I still don’t want to buy cheap if it means it’s carcinogenic, kill birds, etc. I would appreciate any advice and help sorting out all this info! Thanks!
My suggestion is to start off with a few quality pots and pans. My favorites (note that the Sitram pan lids are sold separately):
Saucepan - http://www.bridgekitchenware.com/inde... - I also have a smaller one
Saute Pan -
http://www.bridgekitchenware.com/inde... (I have the 11 inch)
Dutch Oven -
http://www.swissdiamond.com/products_... - I have the 12.5 inch one, but you could probably use a smaller one.
I would avoid getting a set, because I think in the long run, you are better off with different kinds of pots and pans for different purposes. I use that saute pan for many things, including stir fries, because I don't have a wok. I have a huge stock pot that I use for boiling pasta and making stock - bought at Tuesday morning for $20 years ago.
A roasting pan is nice, but I've also used the saute pan to roast a chicken (just remember how hot the handle will be when you go to remove it from the oven). I think having some sort of gratin dish - ceramic - is also useful, and I use a good jelly roll pan for all sorts of things.
I noticed, by the way, that Bridge has a "wishlist" option. I don't know where you are located, but they used to have good deals on shipping.
Another, much smaller item, that I wished I'd gotten years ago, is a great set of tongs - I use them for all sorts of things, including removing pot lids etc.
well you could go for a set, which can sometimes be on sale for less than the individual pieces. I suggest 18/10 stainless cookware with rivited handles, and nice thick heavy bottoms. All-clad is nice stuff but very expensive, and there are cheaper alternatives that will do a nice job for you. A nice set at an affordable price is the Cuisinart Chef's Classic set, it usually runs around $150 for a 10 piece set (pieces always include lids, so not 10 pans) it can be found at Macy's, Amazon, Bed Bath and Beyond.
If you want to buy a little at a time, go for a dutch oven/stockpot for boiling pasta, making soup etc, a 3qt. saucepan, 8-10 inch frypan. I am not a fan of non-stick, but it does have its place, I have 1 nonstick frypan for things that are notorious for sticking, like eggs fried potatoes etc, don't spend big money on this piece because all non-stick, even the expensive stuff is disposable, I have a wearever from target that only has 1 major scratch after 8 years, it is the type that you can use metal utensils with, it was around $20.
Good luck shopping. It is a good idea to go into stores and check stuff out, see how the handles feel, what the weight is like. a good heavy bottom will often hold and distribute heat better, making for a good sear like you see on the cooking shows!
You're probably gonna want some knives too. A good knife set would include a chef's knife, whatever feels best to you - the price for that knife will run $20+ depending on quality. That's the big guy you always see on cooking shows when they chop veggies. Also a bread knife, serrated carving knife, paring knife, butcher's knife, etc.
The whole set can be pricey but worth it over the cheap ones, and they can last many years with the right care and occasional sharpening. Don't forget a couple of cutting boards. One for raw meat (usually a nonporous surface) and one for everything else.
I'm kinda new to cooking too. Just keep reading and maybe get a couple basic cookbooks with pictures! And watch the Food Network and Youtube for helpful video on technique.
You don't need a whole set of knives! One good chef's knife and a smooth butcher's steel to keep it honed is all you really need. I have a Mundial 8" wood-handled chef's knife from college and it's still going strong. It cost about $30 and is made of the same steel as Henckels (because Mundial was apparently founded by ex-Henckels employees). A paring knife is nice, too, but there aren't too awful many things you can't cook with an 11" saute pan (doubles as a roaster), a 10" chef's knife, and a small saucepan.
Second the recommendation for multiple cutting boards. I like wood for carving boards, plastic for everything else; bleach them if they start to get disgusting or once a month, whichever is sooner.
You will learn more watching PBS than the Food Network, IMHO.
It helps to sit down and think about what you like to cook before shopping. I have an expensive 12" saucepan that I've used once, and don't need since I have my chef's pan. If you don't make or like soups, don't get the large stockpot; if you live in a year-round warm weather area, how many times a year are you really going to roast or braise? Better to leave that stuff to buy when you're more established or learned so that you don't spend money on things you will never use (ie don't buy a whole set of cooking utensils for nonstick cookware like I did).
Since you're learning to cook, why not start off with the basics, based on your specific diet: a small pan for eggs (I use cast iron, but it's really well seasoned); a large pot for pasta, soups, stews; a small pot for reheating leftovers, making curries, or rice; a baking sheet or roasting pan (I slap everything on the things and stick in the oven); and go from there.
As for the material, I'd say stick with a good nonstick for eggs and/or fish (Emeril's works just fine for me, $20 at BBB), cast iron, stainless steel, and anodized aluminum (the one not coated with nonstick material). You can find basic information on these materials via Google. The whole copper vs. silver vs. idontknowwhat can come later. And remember, our grandmothers made amazing food without All Clad and Calphalon, so don't stress too much.