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Old 09-30-2008, 01:24 PM   #1
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Cookware. Does size matter?

I've been replacing my old cookware with new stuff, mostly Cuisinart Chefs Classic in SS. I already had their 5.5 qt saute pan and although I use it, it's huge, or at least it seems too big at times. Four decent size chicken thighs are swimming in there and of course require a lot of oil to get a thin layer on the bottom of the pan, which in turn adds that much more oil to any gravy I am planning to make, so..... in a recent shopping spree at Amazon I ordered the next smaller size, 3.5 qt. I'm looking at it thinking that I would be hard pressed to fit four chicken thighs in there, especially because obviously you can't rearrange them until they've released. I had no idea there would be such a drastic size difference between 3.5 and 5.5. Seems like the perfect size for me would be a 4.5 qt, if they make one.... but I'm going to keep it because I can see it being handy for some of the stuff I cook.

So, which way would you lean? Cooking in a crowded pan, or cooking where the food has copius amounts of room and requires a lot more oil?
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Old 09-30-2008, 01:34 PM   #2
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Even though there are only 2 of us at home, I would use the 5.5 qt. because one could have company and want to make larger meals. Also you could cook the meat , freeze what is leftover.
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Old 09-30-2008, 01:40 PM   #3
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For some applications, it is important to give the food room to cook.
Braising becomes steaming if food is crowded.

Then again, in some others, it is good to have it tightly packed.

(I think it is a conspiracy by the cookware makers to force us to buy different sizes!) ;)
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Old 09-30-2008, 01:53 PM   #4
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lol, I think it's a conspiracy, too, GF. It seems like my old saute pan was the perfect size. I guess I should learn how to judge the quart sizes that cookware uses before I purchase. I need a "tweener".
Is there a chart somewhere that lists foods you do not want to crowd? How can you tell if your food is sauteing (braising) or steaming?
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Old 09-30-2008, 02:13 PM   #5
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I have both sizes. For simple meals, such as two serving sized pieces of protein, I use the 3.5 and it works great. The larger one gets used for larger recipes that will make several meals. such a jambalaya. I also use it for things such as chicken pie filling and cooking for guests.

The larger one also serves and a water bath for my cheesecake pan.
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Old 09-30-2008, 02:18 PM   #6
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I have to tailor to my "piece" stove. I can barely fit two 10" saute pans on one side without the front pan barely on the burner.

As far as size goes, you need to determine that yourself. For instance, I use a 20 qt stock pot sometimes but alot of people may think it's too big. Then on the other hand, I like to use a 1 qt sauce pan for alot of things. My 10" saute pans or CI pan see the most action.

I could probobly toss more than half of the cookware in my kitchen and not blink an eye.
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Old 09-30-2008, 03:15 PM   #7
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I just measured and the 3.5 qt measures 9.5 inches. The 5.5 qt measures 12 inches. That 2.5" is a pretty noticeable difference, but what it really a big difference is if you figure out the cooking area. Just the cooking surface alone is a 42 sq in difference. That's huge. IMO. Less than 71 compared to 113.
I guess the true test would be to try to cook my 4 chicken thighs in the smaller pan and see how they come out as compared to the gravy (because of the extra oil needed in the larger pan).
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Old 09-30-2008, 03:37 PM   #8
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I don't think you'll have a problem with 4 thighs in the smaller pan unless they came from a steroid enhanced bird.
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Old 09-30-2008, 03:56 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pacanis View Post
I just measured and the 3.5 qt measures 9.5 inches. The 5.5 qt measures 12 inches. That 2.5" is a pretty noticeable difference, but what it really a big difference is if you figure out the cooking area. Just the cooking surface alone is a 42 sq in difference. That's huge. IMO. Less than 71 compared to 113.
I guess the true test would be to try to cook my 4 chicken thighs in the smaller pan and see how they come out as compared to the gravy (because of the extra oil needed in the larger pan).
Maybe you should use a 4 quart cast iron dutch oven with 2TBS of olive oil.
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Old 09-30-2008, 04:02 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by justplainbill View Post
Maybe you should use a 4 quart cast iron dutch oven with 2TBS of olive oil.
Yeah, that's something else I've been thinking about, so I don't have to pull out my big camping DO everytime a recipe calls for using a DO. The kind with three legs and a rim around the lid.

Thanks Andy. I wouldn't want to ruin them by "steaming" them.
Yet more cooking terms I need to look up; steaming something, but not with water, by cooking the food too close together. It seems to me they would still be frying Then there's sweating onions....
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