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I just started cooking and i am knew to the lingo of things. i have a recipe that says use a skillet,my pots and pans description does not say i have a skillet. i have a saute pan ....straight size,and 2 frying pans with slope low sides,nothing as far as skillet? of what i have what do i use.....making sloppy joe and later some other things but everything i have say to use a skillet. please some advice here? And when do u use which for what? NEWBIE in cooking... Also have something i found in the cupboard that looks like the saute pan that came with the set but instead of it having straight sides it is sloped a little, size wise it is big as saute pan .what would this be called?

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  1. A frying pan would work for sloppy joes. pots would as well. Just make sure all the ingredients will fit. If you're a newbie in the kitchen, don't fret over the resources that you have so much. Just start building your technical abilities. Once you start to master it, you can use different pots and pans to your liking as you understand the science behind it as well (or at least just have a feel for it.)

    You have so many questions that I'm not going to go through all of them.

    Different pots and pans have different specializations -- it doesn't necessarily mean it can only be used for one thing. If you don't have the right equipment, substitute it for another. Unless you're making something that requires amazing technical skills (sloppy joes do not), don't worry about it.

    1. I found this on askville.com:

      I found this explanation from the American Heritage Dictionary, courtesy dictionary.com

      "The terms frying pan and skillet are now virtually interchangeable, but there was a time when they were so regional as to be distinct dialect markers. Frying pan and the shortened version fry pan were once New England terms; frying pan is now in general use, as is the less common fry pan, now heard in the Atlantic states, the South, and the West, as well as New England. Skillet seems to have been confined to the Midland section of the country, including the Upper South. Its use is still concentrated there, but it is no longer used in that area alone, probably because of the national marketing of skillet dinner mixes."

      However, the more culinarily inclined folk at epicurious.com seem to differentiate, to some degree. There's a "Tools of the Trade" article on skillets that states, "the word skillet is used most often as a generic umbrella term, a type of family name. If you think of the skillet as the mama of all low-sided pans, then you can think of frying pans and sauté pans as next of kin."

      They go on to differentiate skillets into frying pans and sauté pans - "a frying pan has gently flaring, often rounded sides, and a sauté pan has straight, noticeably higher sides, like a wide, sawed-off saucepan."

      So essentially, all frying pans are skillets, but not all skillets are frying pans.

      The epicurious article also discusses which types of pans are best used for what, so check it out if you're really curious. It tends to repeat itself though. Not sure if it's a publishing error or what, but most paragraphs appear twice.

      I'm sure it's all debatable (and probably will be.) Either your saute pan or your frying pan will do the trick- what your recipe is telling you that you need is a low wide pan with lots of surface space. Your straight sided pan might be a good start until your technique is good so you don't spill things over the sides of your flared frying pans.

      1. The common variables are:
        - overall volume; you need enough volume to hold what you are cooking

        - height to width ratio: for things that require a lot handling (turning, flipping etc), a shallow wide pan is nicer than a deep one. But for soups, pasta, ie. boiling water, a deeper one is usually nicer.

        - slope of the sides: steep sides can get in the way of a spatula when flipping things; but they contain liquids better when stirring.

        Something like sloppy joes could be made in any pan that is big enough. A wide shallow one will be better when first browning the ground meat (and onions) because there is more bottom area (where the frying occurs), but a deeper sauce pan will still work. Once you have added the liquid, the shape of the pan does not matter much.

        1. In the UK, these are all frying pans - some frying pans have sloping sides, some have straightish ones - but they're all frying pans. When I cook, I use the one that first comes to hand.

          1. Seriously? You amateurs don't have a dedicated sloppy joe pan?

            If what you want to fit in the pan will fit, it will work for the sloppy joes. I would prefer wider to narrower.

            I love some sloppy joes and prefer the Manwich above all. Along with a side of tater tots it is truly the food of the gods.

            1. I would use the straight sided pan for sloppy joes because they are........well........sloppy!! You don't want them "slopping" out of the sloped-sided pan ;-)

              1. I too would use the saute pan for sloppy joes. I love my saute pan; it is so versatile.

                1. Pick up a copy of Alton Brown's "I'm Just Here for the Food". Good primer ....

                  1. http://fantes.com/cookware.html

                    Here are 3 links to articles on cookware, their shapes and what they are used for.
                    Here is a list of cookware you should strive for:
                    8 inch non stick skillet someday 2 would be nice
                    10 inch non stick skillet someday a 12 inch would be nice too
                    10 inch tri ply stainless steel skillet someday a 12 inch would be nice Doesn’t have to be All-Clad but make sure it is try ply stainless.
                    Lids for the 10 and 12 inch skillets or an adjustable lid.
                    1 quart, 2 quart and a 3 quart saucepan with lids
                    A 5.5 quart enamel or cast iron dutch oven with tight sealing lid Lodge makes an inexpensive one
                    A silicon spatula and a wood spatula
                    A silicon coated hamburger flipper
                    Assorted plastic storage containers like Tupperware

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Hank Hanover

                      I bought a Calphalon 10 and 12 inch non stick fry pan set and I have to say that the 10 is my workhorse. I'm not sure that I'd find the 8 too useful. Lighter perhaps. These were the first decent pans I guess I've bought and I was surprised by the weight which I now know doesn't necessarily affect the durability, but does affect how evenly it heats up.

                      As for the stainless skillet, tri-ply is the way to go, and watch out slick wording and the construction. I was looking at something that said 5-ply on the label but once I flipped the pan over, I realized it was a disc-bottom pan which is undesirable because it means the sides won't heat up evenly. Stainless steel is a poor conductor of heat so the tri-ply pans have a layer of aluminum sandwiched between to layers of stainless steel.

                      1. re: Hank Hanover

                        Add a large, cast-iron skillet to this stash.

                      2. Please do not obsess about having the exact tool for the job. Many utensils can be used for a wide variety of uses. My industrialised cast aluminum potato ricer is used far more often as a dispenser of spatzle batter than for making mashed potatoes. It also does a wondeful job on jars of garlic when making paella for 20. And my paella pan looks suspiciously like 2, 14 inch cast iron skillets and a 16 inch saute pan.

                        I envy you the start of your culinary journey. As the amount of your equipment purchases exceed your storage space, don't be afraid to get rid of anything you don't remember using in a while. Or you will end up like me, paying $138 a month in storage while I contemplate the purchase of an old French copper pan of 3mm or greater thickness that I found in an antique store yesterday for $10.00.

                        My daughter is getting a one car garage full of stuff for her wedding present. Hope she doesn't wait till her thirties as I did

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                          Nice response, IRFl. And I'll just back you up on that to say that one-purpose utensils and equipment are sort of a waste of time and space and money. Gadgets, same thing - yes, the kabobit and etc. look like fun, but you can buy skewers and do that yourself, and your can use skewers for many other purposes. Only exception I can think of is a countertop grill, which serves several purposes, and an air popper for your popcorn. Maybe there are more, but I'm in an advanced place of computer meltdown and I can't think of them. Anybody?