What Cookware is Best? While a lot of people love buying cookware sets, I argue that putting your own cookware set is better. While some brands might be better than others. What I find is that even though they might produce a good frying pan, their sauce pot might not be the best. For that reason, what I use daily, is not really from a set. Rather, I piece together different cookware from different manufacturer. These are the cookware that I use in my daily life. I factor in price, functionality and general performance and I generally find them to be very useful in the Kitchen. I hope this helps you find the right cookware for you.
The frying pan or skillet should be the workhorse of any kitchen. This is the pan that you will use daily. For that reason, you want something that is good. A characteristic of a good frying pan is that it is durable, conducts heat well, and heavy. This ensures that you get a good sear on your food and develop a beautiful crust.
I recommend that you get at least a 10 inch pan if you plan on cooking for one or two and a 12 inch pan if you have a bigger family. Since this is the workhorse, I have a personal preference towards copper frying pan. The one that I use the most is made by Mauviel.
It has a thick 2.5 mm copper that conducts heat fast and sears steak like no other. The only possible downfall that I see is that the stainless steel lining might put off some people. I know that if I were to stirfy noodles I would grab a nonstick pan. Which brings me to my next skillet, the nonstick pan.
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There are many fear of nonstick skillets. People think that they will get cancer from the teflon coating. When in reality, the danger is very little. If you think about it, a nonstick pan is one of the biggest invention in cookware history. No other cookware has made such a change in how we cook. Food like eggs, fish and noodles wont stick at all. For that reason, a nonstick pan deserve a place in your kitchen.
I personally have a preference towards the Tramontina Professional Pan. It is made in USA and has a very generous and thick aluminum base. Much bigger than other manufacturer. It is relatively cheap and it is perfect for general cooking. When I am not searing steaks, I bring this pan out. I would argue that this is a close tie with the workhorse pan.
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While the nonstick pan will do its job, I also keep a small 8 inch pan for cooking eggs. They are great for when you want to cook a small breakfast and you do not want to waste the gas. It keeps thing efficient and tidy. For this reason, a small omelette pan is a great tool to have around. What I use most frequently is a carbon steel pan by Matfer Bourgeat. Much like cast iron, it develops a nonstick coating overtime. It is pretty much indestructible so you do not have to keep on buying replacement. I use it all the time for eggs and steaks.
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Dutch Ovens are great for making stews and stocks. A quality one will hold heat well and look great at the table. My favorite one is the one by Le Creuset. Since I have multiple size, it does not really matter to me which size I get. But if you only have one, I recommend that you get the 5.5 qt model. It is the perfect blend of functionality and practicality. If you can get two, I recommend getting a 7 qt model and a 4 qt model. This way if You have large guest coming over, you have a dutch oven that can accommodate. The 4 qt model is better if you only cook for one or two.
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A saute pan is great for braising and general cooking. If you are making pasta or something with a lot of liquid, the tall sides will keep it all in. A frying pan will just means that everything will spill over. The great thing about saute pan is that they usually comes with a lid. This helps you trap in moisture and prevent oil splatter. I personally find the model that All Clad makes to be pretty great. While I think that the 3.5 qt model is great. Some might find that the larger 5 or 6 qt one to be more accommodating.
A large 4 qt sauce pot is great to have, but really if you have a 4 qt dutch oven, its not needed. However, I do realize some might want a little bit more variety. For that reason, I recommend that you get the one by All Clad. Their 4 qt sauce pot is one of the best in the industry. They conduct heat well and it has a rolled lip with a helper handle.
However, if you want something that is more versatile that can sear, make soups and sauces. A saucier is the way to go. The model by Le Creuset is one of the best that you can buy. It has gentle sloping corners that lets you whisk with ease. The handle is comfortable and its made with three different metals. This combination lets you control the heat better than any other cookware out there.
The knife is a very personal thing. How it feels in your hand, how it cuts and whether appearance is important plays an important factor. It is not uncommon for cooks to have 50 plus knife.
The Chef Knife is the workhorse of any kitchen. It is generally recommended to get a knife that is 8 inch of bigger. Professional Chef loves getting 10 inch knife and bigger. However, I find that 8 inch knife to be more usable. I have more control and it feels more comfortable.
While I have a personal preference towards Kramer knife, I do realize that it is a little high maintenance. My experience tells me that for the average cook, the one by Wusthof will suit them best. They hold an edge relatively well and they wont chip or rust like the kramer one will. Their fit and finish is also impeccable as well. You really cannot go wrong with a wusthof model.
The paring knife is used to cut small fruits and vegetable. For those task a 3 inch model is usually good. But I find that I find a lot of use for a utility knife that is 5 inch. It is thin and cuts longer food. Stuff like sandwich or cheese. I recommend that you get both but if you only can choose one, I think the utility knife is a better choice.
Luckily, a 3 inch paring knife by Victorinox is around 10 dollar or less. Which means you cant really go wrong with it. For the utility knife, I recommend the model by wusthof. It is pretty durable and it holds the edge well.
The bread knife is a great way to cut loafs of bread. They wont great on salami and tomato as well. Because of the difficulty of sharpening them, I do not recommend spending too much on this. My experience with Victorinox lead to say that they are one of the best bread knife for your money. It is cheap enough that you do not have to worry about breaking it. It is also one of the best performing bread knife also. So you cannot really go wrong with it.
While most people dont realize this, the oil dispenser is a very important tool. Most professional chef use one because of the ease of use. It keeps oil fresh and you can control how much is dispensed. Using a measuring spoon to measure it is not really effective nor is it fast. I recommend that you get a plastic clear squeeze bottle to do this task. Any manufacturer will do, but try to get one that is of relatively good quality. I recommend the one by Winco. The plastic on it is soft and durable. They held up to my abuse and it didnt spill when I accidentally melted it a bit.