My time in this big Victorian barn of an apartment has drawn to a close and I have, with the help of some dear friends, spent the last week packing. The packing of the kitchen has been an amusing thing – I wasn’t the one who packed it, and because I am still in residence for the next week and a half, several things I’d like to still have out to cook with are in the bottom of a taped up box somewhere.
But I managed to squirrel my way into the kitchen during the pot packing, and insisted that this pot stay free of bubble wrap and cardboard. I need something to cook my remaining meals with, and this just seemed like the right choice.
I shopped for this pot for a while. I knew exactly what I was looking for, although I didn’t know the name of it. It needed to have a flat bottom, a tapered shape, smaller at the bottom than the top to encourage evaporation, and high sides that would hold liquids for braising. I finally found it in my price point during a random shopping trip back in NC. Turns out other people aren’t sure what to call it either. I’ve seen manufacturers refer to as a “chef’s pan,” although if you Google that term, you often get a straight sided pot which is not exactly the same. I’ve also heard this shape of pan called a “chef’s skillet” and an “everyday pan”. I vote for the hybrid “chef’s everyday pan,” and after you spend a week with one, you’ll know why. This pan can be used to cook anything. It is the mother of multi-functional pots.
This pan is the last pan you want to pack when you are moving. Which, it occurred to me, makes it the one pan you’d take with you to that theoretical deserted island we like to hypothetically send ourselves to every once in a while.
The flat bottom makes it good for anything you’d use a skillet for: frying an egg, making an omelet, cooking chicken parmesan. The high sides hold liquids like tomato sauce, stews, curries, or soups. You can boil pasta, and if in a pinch, you can turn the heat very low and make grits, couscous, or rice. You can fill the bottom with an inch or two of oil and make pooris or fried chicken. The complete metal construction means you can put it in the oven to finish dishes (Spanish tortilla, anyone?). And finally, it’s wok-like shape makes it perfect for any stir-fry.
If I had my druthers, I wouldn’t live only with this pan. Any of the food items mentioned above cook best in a vessel that’s tailored for the chore.
But if I could absolutely only have one pot?
It’d be this one.
My pick: Kitchen Essentials by Calphalon. I don’t remember what I paid for it, but it was the best price for a really substantial feeling pan. The construction is anodized aluminum and the double handles are riveted on, just how I like it. It comes with a glass lid that helps hold in splatters and (I forgot this use!) makes steaming veggies easy. If you can afford a more expensive/nicer pan, go for it, but this is a great first chef’s pan and I think it will last me quite some time.
(Pardon the muddy pictures – not only am I in the process of moving, I also had a hard drive crash and haven’t gotten my Adobe CS reinstalled. If it’s not one thing, it’s another!)
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