Skip the Big Cookware Sets and Pick Up a Few Good Pieces
Cookware manufacturers try to sell you sets of pots of pans in all different sizes. But you really only need a few basics, a frying pan or two, a saucepan or soup pot, and a bigger stock pot or pasta pot. Here’s a guide to the pots and pans you will actually use.
1) Look for thick heavy-gauge pans that will hold heat even if you throw in a couple of cold steaks.
2) Look for pans that heat evenly with minimal hotspots.
2) You want something that will last without warping, denting, or pitting when you cook with acids or salts.
3) You don’t want a handle that can melt if you stick the pan on the grill or in the oven.
4) Easy to clean.
5) Rust resistant.
Stainless steel is a good all-around choice because it’s durable, easy to maintain, and not too expensive. For better heat conduction, look for clad pans, which have a stainless steel exterior sandwiched around inner layers of either copper or aluminum, both of which conduct heat faster than steel.
The new breed of nonstick ceramic pots and pans are by far the best of any nonsticks, and GreenPan is at the top of the pack. As slippery as a pickpocket, this pan allows eggs to slide out like a downhill skier. Check out our review of GreenPan nonstick pans, which have several advantages over Teflon.
Forget the fancy high end pricey Le Creuset French Oven when selecting a cast iron Dutch Oven. This is the one you want for cowboy cooking and camping. It's perfect for whole chickens or slow braising in the oven or in the grill. Add coals to the lid and it's great for baking. It also comes in handy around the house..
Cast iron provides intense even heat and can be used on a stovetop, in the oven, on the grill and is great for camping. Use a cast iron pan to press sandwiches, smash potatoes, and crush spices or nuts, too. The 12 inch skillet from Lodge is a great skillet for everyday use.
A wok is best for stir fries because of the high sides. Go for a flat bottom wok so it works well on American stovetop burners. This carbon steel wok set has everything you need to turn out tasty Chinese food.
When it comes to saucepans, you really only need 3 basic sizes: small, medium and large. The large is essentially a stockpot that you can use to boil pasta and to make stocks and large quantities of stews and BBQ sauce. The small and medium pans are for smaller quantities of soup and everything else.
An assortment of pans for frying and sauteing is essential for a functional kitchen. Stainless steel with a core of aluminum is best for most sauteing and frying. Buy the best you can. It's also helpful to have a couple nonstick pans on hand. For those, buy them cheap and replace them when they wear out.
The Nordic Ware 12-Inch Universal Pan Lid is a vented pot lid you should keep handy when cooking. It fits most frying pans and saucepans and is much less expensive than the lids from high end manufacturers like All Clad.
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Comprehensive Temperature Magnet With 80+ Important Temps
Winner of the National BBQ Association’s product of the year award. This 8.5″ x 11″ magnet contains more that 80 benchmark temperatures for meats (both USDA recommended temps as well as the temps chefs recommend), fats and oils, sugars, sous vide, eggs, collagens, wood combustion, breads, and more. Although it is not certified as all-weather, we have tested it outdoors in Chicago weather and it has not delaminated in three years, but there is minor fading.
GrillGrates(TM) amplify heat, prevent flareups, make flipping foods easier, kill hotspots, flip over to make a fine griddle, and can be easily moved from one grill to another. You can even throw wood chips, pellets, or sawdust between the rails and deliver a quick burst of smoke.
The PBC has a rabid cult following for good reason. It is absolutely positively without a doubt the best bargain on a smoker in the world. Period. This baby will cook circles around the cheap offset sideways barrel smokers because temperature control is so much easier.
Bring The Heat With Broil King Signet’s Dual Tube Burners
The Broil King Signet 320 is a modestly priced, 3-burner gas grill that packs a lot of value and power under the hood. Broil King’s proprietary, dual-tube burners get hot fast and are able to achieve high, searing temps that rival most comparatively priced gas grills. The quality cast aluminum housing carries a Limited Lifetime Warranty.
ThermoWorks’ Thermapen ONE provides an accurate reading in one second or less. The ONE also includes features that are common on high-end instruments: automatic backlight, rotating display, and water resistant seals. Don’t accept cheap substitutes. Click here to read our comprehensive Platinum Medal review
The Cool Kettle With The Hinged Hood We Always Wanted
Napoleon’s 22″ Pro Cart Charcoal Kettle Grill puts a few spins on the familiar kettle design. In fact, the hinged lid with a handle on the front, spins in a rotary motion 180 degrees. It’s hard to beat a Weber kettle, but Napoleon holds its own and adds some unique features to make the 22″ Pro Cart a viable alternative.