I need a stainless pan in which to fry chicken. Cast Iron is too heavy for me to lift. I would like to be able to fry enough for 2-4 people. Would also like to be able to make gravy in it or maybe French fries. However, frying chicken is my priority.
Fry Pan, Skillet or Saute pan????
Thanks so much for your help!
<Fry Pan, Skillet or Saute pan???? >
If you are want to shallow fry the chicken pieces, then any of them will work. If you want the potential to deep fry the chicken, then a saute pan is the prefer choice due to the higher side.
That is tough part, isn't it? A larger pan will allow you fry for more people. However, a smaller pan will be more convenient. I am guessing a 4-quart is a good size, but there is no perfect answer.
Do you deep fry or pan fry? How often do you need a larger pan; for those occasions is two pans at once an option. This would keep loaded pan weights down since cast iron is too heavy for you.
You could also try thin iron De Buyer pans. My mom uses those for the same reasons as you. They are a lot lighter than cast iron, don't hold much heat so temperature vary a little more but, they cook close enough to cast iron for her.
I don't fry chicken, but if I did I would use my All-Clad French Skillet. I have the 11", which is good for three servings. Four might require the 13". Mine is from the LTD2 line and is quite light. I expect the stainless exterior would be a little heavier, and of course the 13" would be heavier.
The French Skillet has a different profile than the ordinary frying pans, and is a little deeper. Not as deep as the 4-qt sauté pan, however (which is a heavier pan). I think the 11" would work for you if four people had modest appetites.
I'd go with a sauté pan. The higher sidewalls will better serve your primary purpose. Size is the issue. Are you willing to batch fry to save pan weight, or is it more important to fit all the pieces into the pan at once? If you'll fry it in 2 batches, a 3 quart should suit you fine, surface area tends to run about 11-12". Otherwise, a 4 quart is your pan.