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Old 07-31-2015, 10:57 AM   #1
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Deciding between French Skillet & Saute Pan, and what size Saucepans?

I recently got back into cooking again, and finally decided to get rid of the couple of old mangled pans I had and finally invest in some good quality pieces. I don't need advice on materials or brands, I'm just trying to decide what pieces would be the most useful - at these prices I don't want to waste $ getting something that's not going to see much use.

I think I can reduce this down to 2 general questions/decisions:

1) Saute pan, french skillet, or both? I picked up the 11" French skillet and love it. But then I just came across the 4qt sauté pan. I'm torn - their very similar in size so I wonder if I'm wasting $ and being redundant in having both, but then I think having both could be helpful sometimes when I have my meat cooking in one and I want to sauté some veggies. If I just have 1 I'd have to finish cooking one part of the meal before I could start on the other. Or am I just trying to talk myself into justifying having both? (I have to decide quick - I have to return the skillet by Sunday if I'm not going to keep it).

2) What size saucepans would be most useful? I'm getting a 1qt saucier. I'm thinking I should also add either a 3 or 4qt saucepan, but which? And would a 1.5qt saucepan be useful or could I just use the 1qt saucier for anything I needed in the 1.5qt saucepan?

Some background on what I cook. I pretty much just cook for myself, and only try to cook no more than 2-3 servings at a time - I'm not crazy about a lot of leftovers, and have limited freezer space for them. I mostly cook meat and veggies, and also sauces. I rarely cook rice/pasta/polenta, I don't make stock or soup.

I do make chili a couple times a month in the fall/winter, and do braises at least once or twice a month, such as coq au vin or short ribs. The only pieces I'm keeping are my 3.5 and 5qt dutch ovens (enameled cast iron), so I believe I should be covered here.

Thank you for any feedback you can give!

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Old 07-31-2015, 11:58 AM   #2
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the kids flew the coop. I wound up buying smaller sauce pans and a smaller fry pan.

you need a 10" fry/saute for big stuff - like whole fish / long filets - but it's overkill for smaller portions hence the downsize to 8"

the size is more important than the "name" - names imply certain geometries which may or may not be important and which are not a "universally applied standard geometry" and modifications/differences which you will quickly adapt to using.

the 3 qt size is handiest around here, for two.

I have a 6 qt dutch oven / casserole which works great for chili, stew, etc.
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Old 07-31-2015, 12:47 PM   #3
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Thanks! I have a small 10" everyday pan that I use for cooking a couple of eggs occasionally, but it seems too small for much else. I hate the handles on that pan, but I'll probably hang onto it for a while until I can replace it down the road with a good small skillet or fry pan. I haven't been cooking eggs that much lately, so I can afford to wait on that one.
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Old 07-31-2015, 01:10 PM   #4
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Even though it's only the two of us living here, I do entertain occasionally so I have a fair variety.

I have nonstick 8" (our egg cooker), 12" and 14" frying pans (all Bakers & Chefs brand or equivalent, restaurant supply grade), 10" clad SS frying pan (Kitchen Aid) and 12" SS chicken fryer (deep sides - Simply Calphalon).

I have a one pint SS sauce pan (also Simply Calphalon) that I use a lot, 2 quart and 4 quart nonstick sauce pans (the 4 qt is what I usually cook rice in).

The new gas range also came with a reversible CI griddle/grill pan that replaces the center grate on the stovetop. Then I have my 5 qt and 9 qt enameled CI dutch ovens.

It may be overkill, but usually have what I need for cooking just about anything I make.
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Old 07-31-2015, 02:20 PM   #5
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Sounds to me like you could easily get by on what you have now. The Dutch ovens can be for frying. I do that all the time with meat that will be stewed or braised in that enamelled cast iron Dutch oven.

I'm not sure what is meant by a sauté pan. I think that nowadays it means a straight sided frying pan? How much do you want it? I'm sure you will find uses for it if you get it.
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Old 08-01-2015, 09:52 AM   #6
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Cookware

I generally cook for one or two and collect cookware, so have a large collection to choose from. Here's what I use most:

Cast iron skillet. 10 inch square
Small saucepans. I prefer slope sided (evasee) All with lids.
Larger saucepan, large enough to boil pasta, corn, and the like. And/or a large pot with an insert. I use both.
A saute skillet. I usually reach for a 10 inch.

A carbon steel wok. 13 inch. It is my most used pan.

The CS wok IMO is the most underrated pot in the kitchen. Much more than a stir fry device. I took a month long 8000 mile camping road trip a couple years back and carried only the wok and a French press. Everything got cooked.
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Old 08-03-2015, 09:00 AM   #7
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Down the line I'm going to need to replace my ECI 3.5qt Dutch oven - after 2 uses it has some crazing and I figure it's days are numbered. I'll use it until it gives, but I'm thinking then going with either the 3 or 4qt saucepan to replace it. Any thoughts?. I thought maybe the long handle might be useful (both I'm looking at also have helper handles as well). It'll be stainless - I'm not going the cast iron or ECI route again after this.
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Old 08-03-2015, 09:56 AM   #8
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I would return it to the seller or manufacturer for a refund or replacement. I've used cast iron and enameled cast iron (Le Creuset) for many years and have never seen anything like that. It's likely that pan is defective.

I personally don't like putting saucepans in the oven, which is where I often use my ECI Dutch oven - I too often forget it was in there and burn my hand on the handle after taking it out. If you don't mind that, then a saucepan should work fine.
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Old 08-03-2015, 02:01 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GotGarlic View Post
I would return it to the seller or manufacturer for a refund or replacement. I've used cast iron and enameled cast iron (Le Creuset) for many years and have never seen anything like that. It's likely that pan is defective.

I personally don't like putting saucepans in the oven, which is where I often use my ECI Dutch oven - I too often forget it was in there and burn my hand on the handle after taking it out. If you don't mind that, then a saucepan should work fine.
I completely agree with this post.
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Old 08-03-2015, 09:08 PM   #10
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I have no problem at all returning things if warranted, but I kind of feel partially responsible for the damage. I'm used to cooking in stainless, and I preheated it empty, and probably a little higher than I should have (top of medium high per stovetop manual), and then was in a hurry and added the meat without adding/heating the oil beforehand.

From some of what I've seen researching it, I think I would end up paying for the shipping charge (probably around $35), then end up with a coupon for 75% off the MSRP, which would put me out nearly the same amount of money I spent buying the pot in the first place, so I'd end up essentially buying it again anyway.

And I figure I've now proven to myself I need a cooking material that can withstand and survive an interaction with me!
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Old 08-03-2015, 09:31 PM   #11
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Just to add - I might give it a try later, after the pot has gotten to be unusable (right now the crazing/cracks are on the outside of the pot, on the bottom), but I'd hate to just give it away (or pay to give it away) after a couple of uses, with possibly nothing in return.
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Old 08-03-2015, 11:03 PM   #12
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Going back to the question you posed earlier about French skillet vs. a saute pan, I've found that my saute pan is one item I would be hard pressed to do without.

I have this one:
Calphalon Simply Easy System 5 Qt. Covered Saute Pan - Cookware - Kitchen - Macy's

Normally I haven't been totally in love with non-stick, but I really like this pan quite a bit. Like you, I prefer dinners that are mostly meat and vegetables, and I find it's easy to make an entire meal in this one pan.

First, I fry up the meat, then set it aside tented under foil to rest. While the meat is resting, I wipe out the pan with a paper towel, put about a half inch of water in the bottom, add my vegetables, cover, and steam them for 2-3 minutes. They should still be a little crisp. Then I strain off the water, reduce the heat to medium high and add some oil or butter to the pan. All you want to do at this point is quickly stir fry the vegetables to give them a little color and finish cooking them through.

That's it. Meat and vegetables in a single pan that's extremely easy to clean.
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Old 08-04-2015, 12:29 PM   #13
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Thanks Steve! I never have steamed vegetables that way - always thought I had to use a steamer basket (which can be a bit of a pain sometimes). I'll have to try that!
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Old 08-05-2015, 06:53 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Kroll View Post
Going back to the question you posed earlier about French skillet vs. a saute pan, I've found that my saute pan is one item I would be hard pressed to do without.

I have this one:
Calphalon Simply Easy System 5 Qt. Covered Saute Pan - Cookware - Kitchen - Macy's

Normally I haven't been totally in love with non-stick, but I really like this pan quite a bit. Like you, I prefer dinners that are mostly meat and vegetables, and I find it's easy to make an entire meal in this one pan.

First, I fry up the meat, then set it aside tented under foil to rest. While the meat is resting, I wipe out the pan with a paper towel, put about a half inch of water in the bottom, add my vegetables, cover, and steam them for 2-3 minutes. They should still be a little crisp. Then I strain off the water, reduce the heat to medium high and add some oil or butter to the pan. All you want to do at this point is quickly stir fry the vegetables to give them a little color and finish cooking them through.

That's it. Meat and vegetables in a single pan that's extremely easy to clean.
I use a similar method for steaming vegis, except I put the butter in with the water. Once the water has evaporated completely, you are left with a nice butter glaze and the vegis have had the benefit of the butter flavor throughout the cooking process.

We need to retire some pots that are loosing the teflon coating, a 6-1/2 QT and 4-1/2 QT. We are just going to replace the 6-1/2 right now with an 8 QT, All-Clad. Karen checked for the best price which seems to be consistent among the better known sources. It is $315.00. We have a 20% off coupon from BB&B, so that is where we will likely get it.
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Old 09-11-2015, 03:21 PM   #15
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It it's a choice between the two opt for straight-sided saute' pans.
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