Free Advice II: Cookware

A really smart lady recently asked me for advice on buying a set of cookware.  In order to drive more traffic to my blog I’m going to reply here, send her the link, and annoy all three of my regular readers with this post.  {8^)

First of all, don’t buy a full set of any brand of cookware.  Aluminum, Cast Iron, Stainless Steel and Enameled Iron all have their strengths and weaknesses.  Shop around, and cherrypick individual pieces based on how you will use them.

For example, here are the top six pots and pans in the Sidemeat test kitchen:

1. 12″ Teflon coated heavy Aluminum Fry Pan. 

Mrs. Sidemeat was complaining about all the food stickage on our expensive Stainless Steel and Anodized Aluminum fry pans.  I told her to go to Wal*Mart and buy the heaviest Al/Teflon 12″ pan she could find.  We’re still using it nearly every day 5 years later, and it cost a whopping $30.00.

2. 10″ Cast Iron Griddle.

Cast Iron needs a little tlc at first, but once it gets seasoned it’s good forever.  We use this for steaks, chops, and burgers.  Don’t buy one with the grill-like ribs.  Flat cast iron is what you want.

3. 12″ (30cm) Enameled Cast Iron Brasing Pan (With Lid).

Le Creuset stuff costs some dough, but for low-and-slow-cooking there is no better choice.  Osso buco, stews, lamb shanks, chili, sauces…  Oh yeah.

The enamel coating makes these pans bulletproof and even idiotproof.  No seasoning or maintenance required.  The cast iron construction makes for even heating, which is important for low heat wet cooking like simmeringand braising.

4. Saucepans, Small to large. 

Brand not important, I like a Stainless interior with an Aluminum or copper clad bottom, with SS on the outside.  Can you boil water in them? If yes, they’re OK!

5. Big Enameled Cast Iron Stew Pot.

Ok, get your wallet out.  But remember, Enameled Cast Iron is the best material for slow cooking all sorts of soups and stews.  Don’t cook acidic foods in bare Cast Iron.  Trust me on this one.

6. Big Ass Pot.  Eight Quart or bigger. For piles of pasta, potatoes, crabs, lobsters, etc.  Aluminum is fine, and at this size weight is an issue.  You can get fairly inexpensive Al or Stainless B.A.Ps from a kitchen supply house or on the Intarwebs.  Don’t enter “big ass pot” into Google though.  You have been warned.

Ok, I think that’s about it on pots and pans.  No one ask me about knives, or I’ll go on for pages.  Yes, I’m looking at you, you knife abuser! (coughcoughwendycoughcough)




Filed under cooking

5 responses to “Free Advice II: Cookware

  1. Wendy

    How can I be a knife abuser when I don’t even cook?????????

    I use one knife – 1! It is a Pampered Chef cheese knife. It cuts my favorite Irish Cheddar to fit perfectly on my favorite Organic TLC crackers – I throw in a few seedless grapes or organic apple wedges and – tahdah – my favorite dinner! (Well, wait… do you count the Pampered Chef apple wedger thingy as a knife? 😉

    Where’s the damn video, anyway???

    ps. I’m telling Mom that you are picking on me again.

  2. JB

    Pipe down, or I’ll kick a hole in your bedroom door again.

    Pampered Chef? You’re just baiting me now. I won’t bite.

    Try back later for video. Youtube is doing some maintenance.


  3. Wendy

    hmmm the Pampered Chef got you, but not the “organic”. I must be a little off these days. We must get together soon for more abuse.


  4. JB

    All food is organic. Carbon based, ya know.

    Except for Doritos. And Marshmallow Fluff.

    Bring your P.C. ‘knives’ when you come to visit. I shall cleave them in twain with my Deba Bocho or maybe my Santoku.

  5. Wendy

    Deba Bocho – wasn’t she on Hill Street Blues back in the 80s???

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