Saute vs. Fry vs. Skillet
I'm not really that big a cook but I believe in good equipment. I have been chugging along with my small Analon Titanium (had for years and love) and a cheap simple T-Fal 12" non-stick for awhile.
I would like to get away from the non-stick thing and go to a large SS......obviously I thought fry pan. I got really bogged down in the copper, disk, all clad thing and finally decided on a Demeyere Atlantis fry pan, giving up copper (which I really think is best for electric because electric is slow to heat up and cool down and copper is so responsive to that) and going with all-clad (their other stuff is disk but not the frying pan)
Then....well what about that fond, deglazing thing? Simple thick sauces with carmelized or sauted veggies? Risotto with mushrooms? I have been using the T-fal and my LC dutch ovens as sort of a saute pan I guess.
Can a fry pan do double duty? Or should I go the other way around and do the skillet/saute pan as a fry pan?
-I'm usually only cooking for 2 so not a lot of volume in a fry pan to worry about
-I'm not ever a pan flipper when doing anything nor will I ever be
-I cook on electric
-My other pans are a large Le Creuset dutch oven (?) and the LC medium/small dutch oven and what I think is a "saucier" which I don't like that much, it ALWAYS gets a ring of heat bubbles in the same place where things burn fairly easily (have LC bottoms gotten thinner? this was a replacement for the old medium pot with a wooden handle) , and then the small pot with a handle.
The fry pan has no lid, but maybe my large LC dutch oven lid would sort of double well enough for the few times I would need it?
Keep in mind that the higher sides of a saute pan also serve to keep moisture in the pan when cooking, which is not what you are going for when you want to pan fry something cripsy -- say fish filets or chicken cutlets. The AC saute pan actually has the highest sides of all. Yes, you can use the saute pan, and I have several and love them all, but not for pan frying. I find the best for pan frying are cast iron skillets and flared side pans, in both non-stick and stainless steel.
Interesting article. I plan on sticking with the Analon Titanium for eggs though.
I had a little Le Creuset frying pan with the enamel and in my experience it was awful to clean and it always ended up needing it, soaking helped but not enough. I sold it at a garage sale. I tried seasoning a cast iron grill pan - couldn't do it, I'm just not disciplined enough and I wonder about the pre-seasoning process. So I'm sort of limiting my options here.
I think you would use a saute pan in many ways. You can braise in it, or make tomato sauce. You could fry a chicken. You can scramble eggs. You could use it as a griddle. It is a versatile and basic pan.
If you get a pan with a copper or aluminum disc in the bottom, you should be fine. The pan should be heavy and balanced in the hand. The way you find this pan is to look at a a lot of pans, hoisting them and deciding if they seem right for you.
IMO one always needs a non-stick fry pan. I have 2 and I use them. There are at least 2 styles. I like the French style with a more graduated curve on the sided.
An iron skillet is also useful, even if you don't use it as a workhorse.
Once you have the pans you need you'll figure out how you like to use them.
I have this AC stainless sauteuse that I use as a braiser and as a saute pan. I just *love* this pan. It works for a multitude of things and is just beautiful, so it goes from oven or stovetop to table--something you can't do with a pan with a handle. It's not cheap, but you can sometimes find deals on it and I think it's worth every nickel. There is a copper-clad version, but I just couldn't justify the price and have been entirely happy with the SS one.
I went looking for pan types and I think there are 3 types?
Frying pan, Saute Pan, and something called a French skillet which is sort of inbetween (although the cheaper ones looking like frying pans to me?)
It seems to me that a saute pan is a frying pan with higher straighter sides.
I'm not sure how this helps me decide though:(
The All-Clad french skillet would be a nice compromise but the handle wings up at an angle and I'm used to the more traditional straight out handle.
The Sauté Pan is designed for sautéing, frying and searing, and is also well suited for preparing marinara and other sauces. The high sides serve to retain added liquids during cook
Considered the essential “workhorse” of the kitchen, the Fry Pan is well suited for fast cooking with oils over high heat. Gently-curved sides facilitate turning, flipping, and releasing foods from the pan.
"It seems to me that a saute pan is a frying pan with higher straighter sides."
That's correct. So you need to keep in mind that a fry pan and a saute pan that have the same diameter across the top will not have the same diameter across the bottom. The only fry pan I own is also the only non-stick I own and I make very little in it other than omelets. But then, I do everything that would call for a fry pan in a cast iron skillet. And frankly, that cast iron skillet is "the workhorse" in my kitchen.