Matt’s questions last Friday about the pots and pans in our kitchen got me thinking about the cookware I own and how I use it. When I surveyed my collection, I was surprised by its size. I use all of the pieces regularly, and I feel that the size of my collection represents the diversity I have in my cooking repertoire. In a given week, I’ll roast, fry, saute, steam, bake, broil, and poach. Our family might enjoy French country cooking on a Monday and Chinese-style steamed pork buns on a Tuesday. My collection:
Used for browning, frying, sauteing and searing, these fry pans are the backbone of my cookware. I actually have two of the 10″ fry pans because it’s common that I’ll need both working on the stove at the same time during a single meal preparation. The 8″ gets the least amount of action, but it’s perfect for breakfast omelets or egg scrambles, which I make a few mornings a week.
The smaller stockpot is perfect for beans and lentils because it doesn’t have a long handle to get in the way of other cooking, and also keeps a consistent heat evenly over a long period of time. The larger stockpot is my go-to pot for soups.
I use the double-boiler when making rice, melting chocolate and sugar, and doing anything that I fear may burn if placed directly on a burner. The double-boiler fits in both the 3-quart stockpot and the 3-quart saucepan.
These pots are perfect for sauces, poaching, and simmering. My stainless pots and pans are all a decade old and still heat quickly and evenly. They are also dishwasher safe and have held up beautifully under brutal treatment.
The wok takes center stage when I want to steam and quickly fry foods. In combination with three bamboo steamers, this workhorse produces incredible dumplings. It’s the newest member in my collection.
This griddle makes French toast, pancakes, tortillas and hamburgers like a champ. It holds heat for a long time and puts a gorgeous brown crust on most everything it touches. Could also be used as a weapon if necessary and requires a little bit of elbow grease to wield it on the stove.
The deep side walls of this enameled cast iron piece make it perfect for going between the stove top and the oven. Any recipe the requires browning before baking gets put into this pan.
I roast small cuts of meat and small-to-medium-size birds (chickens, turkeys, ducks, pheasants) in this amazing piece of cookware. I’ve had it for three years now and it performs as wonderfully as my Le Creuset, and for a quarter the price. It came from Target and was highly recommended by Cook’s Illustrated.
Large turkeys, ample cuts of beef and pork (including a full rack of ribs), and casseroles heading to picnics get made up in this behemoth of a pan. It’s heavy, takes up a lot of space, and gets used the least amount of all my cookware, but I can’t imagine parting with it or using anything else on a Thanksgiving turkey. I got it on sale at 70% off the sticker price at the Le Creuset outlet in Leesburg, Virginia, otherwise I probably wouldn’t have purchased it (the thing usually retails for more than $300!).