Cookware for cooking meat for a crowd?
We have 4 kids and about once a month have weekend guests, which will bring our dinner total up to 7 - 9. (Kids are all 12 and under, so don't eat a ton. I have 3 boys, so that WILL change!!!) We eat a lot of chicken breasts, pork tenderloin, and pork chops. A lot of my recipes call for browning on stove top and finishing in the oven. I need to find a good way to cook 6 chicken breasts or 4 pork tenderloins or 6 pork chops. My 12" All Clad fry pan just doesn't hold enough.
I have a LOT of Christmas money to spend, so I can get more than one item. I like my All Clad SS so am probably going to stick with it. Cast iron is not an option due to neurological issues and muscle weakness I have. I have a gas stove with 8" burners. One of them has a 4" diameter where the gas comes out (don't know the correct name…), so it can take bigger pans.
I've been researching a lot, and I'm assuming I need something with sloped sides for the stovetop since I'm browning flat foods? I had thought of a 14" fry pan, but I don't know if it would fit into my stove. I'm also considering a 13" brasier with sloped, 2.25" tall sides, but not sure it'd hold enough. Or on the HUGE end, a 16" paella pan - not sure if it's the right pan for my needs, though. OR should I just buy another 12" fry pan?
I do have a 16" x 11" roasting pan I'm going to try in place of the 13x9 glass baking dish + square baking dish I sometimes use in the oven for chicken. If you have a better Idea, I'm open to suggestions.
I'm already planning on getting an 8qt All Clad stockpot/dutch oven. I have a 4qt sauce pan, 12" skillet/fry pan, the roaster, a double griddle, and nonstick skillets. I you have any suggestions on how else to pend my money, I'm all ears! LOL! (OK, I do have a 7.25qt LC dutch oven, but I never use it as it's too heavy.)
sreese: A few ideas:
(1) A large--like 14"--commercial aluminum shallow braiser pan. Try Vollrath.
(2) A large outdoor grille/BBQ w/ a rotisserie and a plate griddle.
(3) A much larger stocker/DO. 8Q is pretty small cooking for 9. 14-18Q
(4) A new La Cornue range (You did say you have a LOT to spend).
Thanks for the great suggestions! I'm looking into them. We will do a kitchen remodel in the next 1 - 3 years, and I plan on a bigger stove. I may even get one before we remodel since I have space for it, but I'm not really even planning for it yet. It's more just an idea in the back of my head at this point.
Not to nit-pick but we cook for a much larger group with some regularity so 7-9 doesn't really seem like a "crowd." If I'm browning I'll do it in batches or outside on the grill. I do have an oversized skillet which will easily handle 6 chicken breasts but even then we rarely ever cook just 6. Doesn't seen to be all that burdensome to brown 2 batches. But that's just me. No grill access? That's always the easiest and we keep ours just steps outside the door so it's very easy access to the kitchen (even when I have to clear a foot of snow off the cover to open the lid).
Use your 16x11 roaster across two burners to cook/fry anything you'd use a skillet for. That size would easily handle the quantities you mentioned above; then like ferret said, cooking in batches also works well - just save the juices to add back in. Other than that, All-Clad makes a 16 3/4" x 13 3/4" x 2 1/2" high overall roaster. I have it and I *know* that would suit your need. If you need a lid, a cookie sheet or heavy duty aluminum foil easily serves that purpose.
For roasting, frying and braising, with improvisation, it seems like you have what you need for your immediate family (even when they are "bigger") without spending a lot of money for "company cookware".
Put the money in your "remodel the kitchen slush fund" or if you don't already have one, as others mentioned, buy a grill - you can grill, roast, lightly smoke, use as a heated holding area during the holidays.......
Based on your requirements, I HIGHLY reccommend the All-Clad 6 quart saute pan. It measures 13 1/2 inches across - which may not seem like much of an upgrade from the 12 inch fry pan, but keep in mind that the sides don't slope - they go straight down - which means you get that much in surface area - I think the 12 inch fry pan gives about 10 inches max. It works perfectly for browning too! If it's not enough to accomodate your needs, you can always use your fry pan in addition to this one when cooking big portions. I probably wouldn't go for a paella pan though - given your burner size - it wouldn't heat evenly and would take up too much stove space (you may need the adjacent burners). Just make sure it would fit in your oven!
I can't recommend a halogen oven highly enough:
Cooks meat beautifully, and easily cooks 10 chicken breasts if both upper and lower racks are used. Many other pluses: Low power use, instant heat-up, easy to clean, transportable/lendable, cheap to buy, frees up oven space......I could go on!
I of course accept that they may be less good for meat-in-sauce dishes (can be done, I'm told), but the "roast 'n grill" effect they produce is terrific.
Just found some (UK) reviews:
Honestly, I would change your recipes, lol. If I"m cooking for a crowd and it's chicken or pork tenderloin that is going to get roasted, it goes straight in the oven on either a sheet pan or a roasting pan at a high heat and then gets turned down to a more moderate temperature. Honestly, the whole point of roasting (vs. baking) is to brown the exterior so I don't know why you are browning first on the stove top.
Otherwise, I would get the large size All-clad roaster, brown on the stove top with that across two burners, and then toss in the oven. And you can cook a turkey in it too :)
I grew up in a family of 7 and my mother did a lot of her cooking on an electric skillet. They don't seem as popular as they used to, but would probably be good for your purposes.