Pots and pans
Ha, all of the above.
Star with essential pieces not just a set. Example: cast iron frying pan, non-stick sautee pan, heavy stainless pots in three sizes, small, med., lrg, etc. and a dutch oven. Hope this helps!
Recommendations for brands of non stick, and stainless?
For non-stick, I strongly recommend All-Clad for the performance and their warranty policy. After a dozen years, I wore a patch in my 12 inch non-stick pan's coating & they replaced it with no hesitation.
Here's what I look for in general:
1) has a dense heavy bottom so the heat is even. Thin cooking pans produce "hot spots" and will cause your food to cook very unevenly, and burn.
2) in general I want it to be metal only. Although a good quality non stick pan is good to have for a couple things, a metal surface will be the only way to get that delicious "fond" needed for excellent pan sauces. In addition, no rubber or plastic on the handles for those times when you want to throw the pan in the oven to finish a dish.
3) The right kind of pans in the set. This will depend on what he likes to cook. MY perfect set includes a sauce pot, large and small saute pan (with sloped edges), a dutch oven and a stock pot. With these things, I can cook you pretty much anything.
My All Clad brand set is superb. Although they are a bit pricey. I'm talking $100-$200 per pan, or $500-$800 for a set. So, if you don't mind spending a few bucks, these are a great set, and I have no doubt they will last me a life time which is good, because I beat up several cheapo brands. I had planned on buying them slowly, one at a time over time, but instead, was then lucky enough to recieve a set for a wedding gift.
Do you think the copper lined All Clad are necessary?
Please excuse my ignorance, but what is "fond"? I never heard that term before.
I was wondering about All Clad for the frying and sauce pans/pots, but wasn't sure if i needed a non stick pan. Also not sure what's the best dutch oven brand. I love those enamel covered cast iron ones. I am also thinking of a cast iron skillet.
Calphalon Every Day. I got mine at Target and they were under $200. Best thing I ever bought, trust me. You can't destroy these (and I've tried, as has my mother). I soak them in hot soapy water sometimes for a couple of days and no problem. Only trouble I have is one of the frying pans likes to stick with potatoes. I've had them close to five years, though, so I expect that. No need to spend over $500 for a set of pans. Just get the Calphalon pans and you'll get a great bargin!
ChefOno said it best: "Better to purchase one piece at a time if necessary rather than a cheap set. Buy the best, cry only once is my motto" Had I not recieved the wedding gift, I would have purchased them myself.
a non-stick pan is good to have, although I go cheap on these. I only use them for a couple things, such as eggs and crepes, and I always use low heat on them. They don't go through the same level of abuse that the rest of my troops do. I don't own a cast iron, although I should.
Discounters such as Ross and TJ Maxx can be gold mines for finding high-quality at reasonable prices, and the great benefit is that you can buy one pan at a time.
Also, Costco carries a stainless steel set that is priced under $200. Don't know who makes it for them, but quality is high, and several people I know are very happy with it.
Thanks, ChefOno for your help about the copper bottomed pots. That will help keep the cost lower.
Are the non stick pans All Clad? I like the idea of the stockpot doubling as a Dutch oven.
For nonstick I'd also look into what the nonstick surface is made of as most are made with chemicals that can leach into food. There are many new lines of relatively inexpensive "green" pans with ceramic linings that are non-chemical non-stick. Scanpan brand is also supposed to be a safe coating.
Agree with ChefOno about buying single items rather than sets.Google Mark Bittman minimalist kitchen for a great NYTimes article in setting up your first kitchen on the cheap from restaurant supply stores.
What's the key to getting fish and eggs to slip out of your All Clad?
So you are using a specific non stick pan by All Clad? As opposed to the regular sauté pan?
Agree 1000% with ChefOno.
Will add that another key to ensuring food doesn't stick is to heat the pan to a high enough temp first. You know it's hot enough when a drop of water beads like mercury and dances in the pan. Then add the oil, heat a moment and you're good to go.
And for goodness' sake, use fat. :)
I love what I have in my kitchen, so I'll speak to that specifically.
1.) All-Clad 1 qt saucepan
2.) All-Clad 2 qt saucepan (if I had to pick just one, I'd pick the 2 qt)
3.) All-Clad 5 qt sauté pan (by far my most-used pan)
4.) Lodge cast-iron combo cooker (like a Dutch oven with a frying pan for a lid)
5.) Bialetti enameled nonstick pan (amazingly nonstick and with no teflon)
My All-Clad is from an era before all the fancy shenanigans--copper lined this or that, try-ply versus 5-ply--and it's great. It provides nice, even cooking and will probably outlive me. Ditto the Lodge combo cooker. I make everything from sourdough bread to ratatouille in my combo cooker. The nonstick pan is great for eggs, pancakes or crêpes, or anything sticky (you can pretty much just rinse it off and that's that for cleaning).
More than anything, though, I think it's important to understand that while the quality of your pots and pans helps, a good cook can get great results with subpar equipment. It's all about knowing how to treat what you're cooking, knowing the vagaries of your stove, and knowing what result you want to get.
I would caution folks to be careful about buying Le Creuset or All Clad pieces from discounters and outlet stores. Usually, these are seconds or defective pieces and the lifetime warranty doesn't apply. If you see these in stores, check to see if the Le Creuset are marked with a "2" or "X" beneath the handle. This indicates that they are seconds or defects and cannot be returned to retailers for a replacement. I totally agree with everyone's comments about the All Clad and cast iron pieces. I love mine and have used them for years with no problems. For regular cast iron fry pans and grill/griddles, you can't beat Lodge Cast Iron, but for a Dutch Oven, I'd invest in Le Creuset 7qt. dutch oven. I use mine to make all kinds of soups and braised dishes. I also have a couple of stock pots (standard 6qt and a monster 12 qt that I use for making stock and brining whole turkeys). I'd also invest a good quality slow cooker (6qt minimum) and if you're feeling adventurous, a Fagor pressure cooker.