Setting up a kitchen - which of this equipment?
After living with roommates for years, I have been cooking with wildly inappropriate pots and pans for six months. All purchased in a cheap set from Target 6 years ago. But now I'm getting married - woooo. I know this question gets asked a lot (and I have certainly perused the board for those threads), but it also seems like it is fun to answer.
I put together a list of recommended pots and pans, but I feel like there is some overlap. We are having a big wedding so I'm not concerned about cutting down the number, just more about not having too much overlap and inefficiency, if that makes sense?
I don't currently have a grill pan of any sort and living in an apartment have always wanted one, so I would be curious what people recommend. We cook a lot and a great variety of dishes - more vegetarian than meats but the occasional braising happens in our house and I love a good pot of chili. My fiancee is all about scrambled eggs with anything and also likes to make different (sometimses weird) pasta sauces. He recently did roasted beets and salmon on pasta, which was definitely a mistake. Hopefully that helps you get an idea of what's happening in the kitchen! We are avoiding appliances because of space - I'd rather have a pot that can cook rice and do more than a rice cooker at this stage of my life. I also left off a really big stockpot for similar space reasons - some day when I do more canning and large-scale soups and such I'll just get myself one :)
Here's what I've thought of. What should I cut? I can't think anything is missing, but if so, let me know that too!
AC Stainless steel fy pans, 10" and 12"
AC non-stick fry pan, 8"
AC Stainless steel large roaster with rack
All-clad double burner grill (not sure if this is the best choice?)
AC SS 2-quart saucepan
AC SS 4-quart saucepan
All clad SS Steamer Set - 3 Qt
SS Stock pot - 7 Qt
Le Creuset 3 1/2 quart briaser
Le creuset 6 3/4 quart oval dutch oven
Le crueset 5 1/2 quart round dutch oven
Lodge cast iron round fry pan 10"
What do y'all think? Thanks for any help you can provide! Having bought cookware for all of my non-cooking friends I am excited to finally set up my own kitchen in a more lasting way!
Here's my take:
--Keep the Lodge an the 5.5Q LC and junk the rest
--Get a larger inexpensive stocker in SS (like 10-12Q)
--Get a Calphalon non-stick skillet
--From Falk, Mauviel or Bourgeat, get in 2.5m copper bimetal:
--a rondeau (or "stew pan") with cover
--a 2Q sauciere
--an 11" saute with cover
--an 8.5Q casserole with cover
If you have rich friends and family, I'd add two conventional saucepans with covers and Falk's 16x10 oval roaster/gratin.
I'd consider adding a cast iron pizza pan, which can also be used for baking breads. Some people swear by a stone, others by cast iron. Most threads and reviews from people who've used both don't seem to have a strong preference.
I recommend the cast iron because it can also be pressed into service for oven-roasting veggies, and can be used on the stovetop to make crepes, tortillas, pitas, pancakes, grilled cheese sandwiches and such.
Lodge and some of the other big foundries make pre-seasoned models, Dansk makes an enameled cast iron pan under the Mario Batali label. Both kinds get very good reviews.
Here's my advice - cut that list down 50-75% and get only a few quality pieces that you can master. While each of those items can be good, how good will they be if that's not the way you cook?
I'd suggest starting with a wok, Lodge cast iron fry pan, a 12" carbon steel sautee pan, a 10" or 12" nonstick or stainless steel pan, just one dutch oven - I'm not partial to LC because others work just as well for far less, and a SS sauce pan.
I've learned through the years that most people buy far too many kitchen pieces than are necessary. Some, especially cast iron and carbon steel, get better with use but don't get used enough. They save lots of money down the road when you figure out how many pieces aren't necessary.
I'd suggest a Vita-Mix blender, a steamer, and a quality set of knives are more important and more useful than the other items on the list.
While I have amassed a LOT of kitchen equipment over the years, I fully agree that there is no need to try to buy everything at once. Get a few pieces now that you know you would be using frequently if you had them. Then add to your collection as you discover gaps. Do not worry about having matching pieces. I like my All-Clad, but after my initial LTD purchases I added stainless and copper core pieces as well as more LTD. My Le Creuset pieces are in multiple colors because that was what was on sale. :) And do consider getting yourself one big pot. There's always corn to boil, or lobster, or a turkey carcass that calls out to be made into stock.
Your advice would be sage in another context.
However, the OP is getting married, and everything about the post screams "wedding registry". We can lament getting-it-while-you-can, but paring the cookware wish list down to some minimal number (that tips sharply to frying) doesn't seem to serve either the new household, or their well-wishers.
I would want a saute pan. I'm not sure if one of the frypans or a braiser would function as that. But I am having to replace most of my pans, and the saute pan is the first thing I'm buying.
I agree that a grill pan is good. I uses a Lodge CI pan. As I posted before, I find the pan quite useful for several different uses involving grilling.
I like to steam veggies in the micro. I have found that it produces a good steamed veggie, esp for a veggie like broccoli. I don't know if you need a steamer, unless you are committed to tying up a burner while you steam. I almost never use my steamer insert.
And I never use the larger sauce pan. I've owned several through the years, but don't find them useful. Do you plan on boiling a lot of potatoes? Maybe then.
I'd get a good PC instead of the large s/pan. However, you may feel differently about this.
+1 for steaming things in the micro. It's faster, easier, and the result is identical.
The 3.5qt brasier could likely do double duty as a sauté pan.
I'd eliminate one of the DO's, perhaps.
I have to disagree about the 4 qt saucepan. I currently have a 1qt, 2.5qt and 4.5qt. My most used are the larger ones, cooking for 2. The big one is perfect for soups, marinara sauce, chili and the like. It makes enough for 2 meals for 2 people without crowding the pan. The smaller DO would work, but the saucepan is a lot easier to handle for everyday use.
But, I do not own a pressure cooker. If I did, I'd certainly use the vessel from it in place of the largest saucepan.
You are right on the soups. I happen to have a couple of soup pots, small and medium. I prefer them because of their shape and the handles on either side.
I agree--you need a deep pot for soups. But I make stovetop chili in the saute pan, and I would do the same for marinara sauce. I prefer sauteing the veggies in it, I think.
<... I make stovetop chili in the saute pan, and I would do the same for marinara sauce. I prefer sauteing the veggies in it, I think.>
And I saute the veg in my saucepan. But I'm odd. I long ago stopped browning ground beef in a frypan, because I don't like big clumps and got tired of chasing the beef around the larger surface. I used to smack the clumps with the edge of a spatula to break them up. Now I just stir with a wooden spoon. So easy.
I'm not completely odd, I do prefer a frypan for tossing veg, but if it's going into soup or chili, I don't want to wash another pan. And since the normal goal for soups is to caramelize or simply soften the veg, the tall pot works great.
i'll also put in a vote for a saute pan with a lid - mine gets pressed into service often, generally for things like caramelizing onions, but sometimes just for frying if i think it's more volume than my fry pan can handle.
grill pans, i think, rarely work out to be worth the space they take up. for us, it's a low-use item anyway. and i don't find they heat evenly.
if you're getting a roasting pan - invest in a good carving board, one that will catch the juices.
while it's neither a pot nor a pan, i'd suggest adding a stick blender to the list. we have one that doubles as a mini-food processor (handle can hook up to a small work bowl). the stick blender is excellent for pureeing soups or sauces, right in the pan.