It’s usually when you start living on your own that you discover the beauty of cooking. But this is also the time when you become aware how complicated a kitchen can be. Until I moved out of my parent’s place, I couldn’t differentiate a pot from a pan. But eventually you start learning and become more and more prone to experimentation and whipping up creative flavours.
Over time, as your cooking skills evolve you will find that your collection of pots and pans will also start growing. But when you start building your kitchen ware arsenal, it’s impossible to predict all the pots and pans you’re going to need. However, by stocking your cabinets with these following pieces which have a multi-purpose nature, you will never find yourself thinking “ Man, I wish I had a (type of pan/pot) now”!
Frying is the most common type of cooking because it’s fast and easy, and you’ll find yourself using kitchen ware for frying quite often. A good idea is to have one fry pan with non-stick coating for making eggs and one regular one for higher-temperature cooking that needs a lot of stirring. Usually, best suited for frying are pans with a diameter of 20-26 cm.
A sauce pan can be easily confused with a pot because of its tall vertical sides that allow for cooking with a good amount of liquid. However, they differ by having a long stick handle on one side and sometimes a helper handle on the other for a firmer grip for simmering. Don’t let the name deceive you, this type of pan is also useful for cooking grains, making gravy, poaching eggs and boiling.
If you make lots of stock, soup or pasta, and also love steamed vegetables, a multi-pot will be a handy thing. It’s tall as a stockpot but has and additional large perforated insert for when you’re cooking pasta and a smaller one for when you’re steaming above water. A 5-plus liter one will be just large enough for most purposes without taking too much space in your cabinet.
Of course, some of our favourite recipes like roasts and casseroles are oven made and a good pot that allows for the air, sauces and liquids to circulate is key. A baking dish with vertical sides that are slightly shorter than a normal pot will fit all your favourite meals in. This type of cookware is intended both for cooking and serving, therefore you should also pay attention to its looks. And the best thing – you can use for all kinds of oven-made recipes whether baking or roasting meat.
The Matter of Material
The number one mistake you can make when buying kitchen ware is to choose a material that’s light just because you think it would be easier on your hands. However, it’s the heavier metals that are good heat conductors and prevent food from getting scorched. For instance, copper is a material that distributes the heat nicely which ensures the food is cooked evenly. Anodized aluminium is a good option for high heat cooking with small amounts of oil or liquid, such as sautéing.
However, if you’re looking for the best material for frying, non-stick options like Teflon or ceramic coating, not only prevent the food from sticking but also reduce the need to use plenty of oil. And if durability is what you’re after, nothing beats stainless steel. It’s resistant to scratches and is very easy to clean, however it cannot match the great heat conductivity levels of other materials.