I’d like to give the excuse that living in New York City gives me less than sufficient kitchen storage space, but I’ve observed the issue of too many stockpots, sauté pants and woks in kitchens with more than ample storage. We are hoarders! Or shall I dare say… Pot heads?!
Although it is nice to have a pot for every type of sauce and a pan for each temperature setting, I’m no professional chef (although I do admit, I pretend to be an at-home one!) and the leaning tower of pots is just… well, superfluous.
The world of pots, stockpots, crock pots, slow cookers, skillets, casseroles, dutch ovens, sauté pans and fry pans is muddling and seemingly equivalent (I’m getting confused just typing them out…), so I’ve broken down my cooking essentials. The essentials of a wannabe-domestic-goddess, a home-schooled ‘chef’, and someone who cooks far more than the average twenty-something living in New York City.
Because my pallet prefers the flavors of quickly sir-sautéed (I refuse to use the word, fried) meat and vegetables, preferably with lots of garlic, ginger, chili flakes and some miso or soy, I zap up the wok very, very often. The characteristic round bottom and gentle flared edge enable food to be mixed easily and quickly- the main characteristic of wok-style cooking. If you don’t already have a wok hiding in your leaning tower of pots, I suggest you run to Chinatown to grab yourself one. And then, throw out all but two of your sauté pans.
SAUTÉ PANS –
There are sauté pans for every type of food: non-stick, stainless steel, fried egg pans, risotto pans, essential pans – just look on the Williams-Sonoma website or your own kitchen for confirmation – but do we really need all of these? Especially with limited space? I say NAY. I have two tried and trusted non-stick sauté pans: a smaller and a larger. The smaller is useful when I am cooking for one, or frying an egg. The larger I use when I’m either cooking for more than just moi, and for treats that need more surface area (think: pancakes). And basta. Those two are more than enough!
One saucepan is all you need. Performing almost every heating and boiling function, you can boil an egg, heat up some pasta sauce or gravy, steam a handful or two of veggies, melt some butter, or even whip up some decadent cheese fondue. Trust me, you don’t need a saucepan specific to butter melting, or polenta making!
My multi-pot does just that: multiple functions. Which is why, I love it! It is a stockpot, a pasta boiler, a soup creator, a steamer, a lobster and crab boiler… I have one with a pasta insert which makes it so much easier to cook pasta and save the disregarded, but essential starchy cooking liquid. Ask Giada… or Ascanio!
DUTCH OVEN –
My dutch oven is my latest addition to my cooking repertoire (thank you Mummy!), and I have to say, it is a life changer. As someone who lives for entertaining, but not wanting to either smell like a commercial kitchen or be excluded from all the guests’ laughter and fun, I love using my Le Creuset to create one pot meals, wintery soups, beef bourguignon, or coq au vin. The pot is designed to enhance slow cooking by heating evenly, leaving your dishes tender and succulent. What is even more fabulous is that it’s oven, boiler AND dishwasher safe. Heaven on a stovetop.
A total of SIX pans are my part of my essential cooking range – not too bad! So, I hope, dear potheads alike, that this has inspired you to reduce your redundant stock to a diminished but not spare cookware set of six.