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Tools of the Trade: Why Good Quality Pans Make a Difference

Tools of the Trade: Why Good Quality Pans Make a Difference

The importance of having the right tools to get a task done can make all the difference to the final product. You wouldn’t use a chainsaw when a scalpel will do nor would you want to. Using the right pan in correct application cannot only make a dish better, but can also make cooking less strenuous. Have you ever tried cooking a piece of meat in a paper thin warped pan? The struggle dealing with hot spots, temperature and fear of constantly burning this piece of meat you’ve already gone neurotic over not ruining can be nerve racking. The point is buy quality, treat your tools correctly and they will make your life in the kitchen easier and last for a long time. Making a meal at home shouldn’t be a struggle or something you dread.

What to Look For in Pans

Pots and Pans have an amazing amount of variety in this day in age, from the thickness, materials, coatings to the shapes.  Not all metals are created equally when it comes to heat distribution and heat retention. First thing to look for is heavy-gauged pans made from either aluminum, copper or stainless steel with aluminum or copper cores. The walls of the pan should be a decent thickness and the bottom of the pan should be heavy. The reason for looking for both of these factors when purchasing a pan is you want the pan to cook evenly, respond to heat changes quickly when adjusting burner temperature and pan thickness means that you have constant heat while cooking.

You want to buy something that feels good in your hands and something that is also oven safe. As far as nonstick I do like them for some applications, but make sure it is PFOA-free and oven safe.

Pan Materials Cheat Sheet

Stainless Steel: Heavy, durable, resistant to staining. Poor heat distribution and transfer with just Stainless.  Must have Copper or Aluminum Core. 

Aluminum: Lightweight, great Heat distribution and transfer, cheap Aluminum Pans react poorly with acidity therefore you must buy Anodized Aluminum which can be expensive.

Copper: Excellent heat distribution and transfer. Reactive to acidity. High maintenance. Super expensive alone, Best as a core in pans. 

Cast Iron: Super heavy, durable and non-stick (seasoned correctly), retains heat well and inexpensive. Reactive to acidity. Needs some maintenance.

Variety of Pans

Purchasing a pan set can be a great way to get your collection going. They will have a good mix of pan and pot sizes, lids to match and are generally cheaper than piecemealing a set. I highly recommend varying sizes of fry pans or skillets from 7” to 12”,  6 and 8 quart stock pots, a medium sized saute pan and 1.5 quart sauce pan to begin with. Cover the bases and you can always add pieces when needed.

Why All-clad Pans

I’m a huge fan of All-Clad, I’ve been using them for as long as I can remember. I love the fact that they are really well made, heavy gauged, super comfortable, crafted from stainless steel with aluminum or copper cores and manufactured right here in the United States. These pans are built to perform on every level and they last for years. You get the best of both worlds having the durable stainless steel exterior and the high thermal conductivity core. I’ve had the same set for over 10 years and they get used a lot.The higher gauge thickness means they won’t ever warp, and the stainless steel is extremely durable. I highly recommend the Stainless Steel line with the tri-ply aluminum core. It’s the perfect balance of performance and value.

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