This month's Everyday Food magazine has an article about the five essential pots and pans that should be in every kitchen. They definitely picked out the right things, too. If you are missing one of these, or perhaps haven't gotten around to breaking in your kitchen after moving out of the dorms, you will be able to cook most things if you pick up all five items. On the list are:
- 10-inch nonstick skillet - Nonsticks are great because they don't requite much cleanup, but stick to anodized aluminum brands, like Analon and Calphalon, if you want to avoid potentially toxic PFOAs. Use it for scrambling eggs and searing delicate meats, like seafood.
- 12-inch skillet - The best choice for sauteing because you'll have lots of room to work, large skillets will allow for higher surface heat and better searing. Make sure that it balances well on your stove and isn't off balance by a too-heavy handle.
- Large saucepan - A 3 or 4-quart saucepan is the most versatile kitchen pot because it can be used for sauces, small batches of soups or pasta for one for a quick lunch. Don't get an aluminum one (unless its anodized) because its reactivity with utensils and metal cooking implements can quickly lend an unwelcome taste to your sauces.
- Large pot - Stocks, soups and stews can all be made in a big 8 or 10-quart pot, but the most common use for a pot like this is to make pasta. Lots of pasta.
- Dutch oven - These can work both in the oven and on the stove top. They retain heat better than most other cookware, too, so they're ideal for slow cooking and making soups or chili. Look for enameled cast iron, anodized aluminum or stainless steel with a copper/aluminum base.