Recently I’ve been trying to declutter (again) and clean out my kitchen (again) and try to pare down my belongings. I’m doing it little by little and being somewhat meticulous about the process. Then on Twitter last night, I got involved in a conversation about buying new pots and pans. As part of that conversation about cookware, this happened:
@karahudson As a thought exercise, if limited to five bits of cookware, which would you pick?
— Debt Blag (@debtblag) June 25, 2013
What a GREAT question! I put some time into it and really thought about the things that I use the most in my kitchen currently. I realized that I actually do already have and use the items that I would pare down to or recommend for someone starting from scratch, so I came up with these five items to answer the question:
- Without a doubt, the item that I use the most in my kitchen is my Lodge 12″ Cast Iron Skillet. My paternal grandmother (Meemaw) taught me most of my cooking skills and well over half of everything she cooked was made in a cast iron skillet. When I moved away from home I eschewed cast iron as too heavy and old fashioned and bought a top of the line non-stick skillet. Big mistake. It didn’t take me long to go back to tried and true cast iron, properly seasoned. I use this skillet every day. I do stir fry in it, scramble or fry eggs, make omelets, make frittatas, pan fry fish and chicken, even bake cornbread, dressing, and the occasional cake.
- The next most used item in my kitchen is this All-Clad 1-1/2-Quart Saucepan with Lid. I cook for one or two people most often and this pan is just large enough to make 2 servings of things like oats, polenta, rice or quinoa. It’s perfect to heat a can of soup or some frozen veg, or simmer just enough sauce for 2. It’s also the perfect size for poaching 2 eggs.
- For everything else, this All-Clad Stainless 3-Quart Saucepan is my go to. It’s big enough for a steamer insert when I want to use it that way. I can cook potatoes or pasta in it. I can cook an 8oz bag of dried beans, prepare rice or quinoa for a larger group, and even do small batches of soup. In fact I make either butternut, pumpkin, or a mixed veggie soup for lunches in this sauce pan at least once a week.
- Next up, is my All-Clad Stainless 8-Quart Stockpot. I do a lot of big batch cooking for freezing and to make staples; I make batches of tomato sauce, chili, soups and stews, beans and ham, and both chicken and beef stock to freeze. During the winter the stockpot probably gets more use than the 3-quart just because we’re big fans of stew and chili and will happily eat leftovers of both for days at a time. During the holidays it’s the default mashed potato pot for when the entire family descends. Oh, and it’s also the pot I pop popcorn in; I much prefer stovetop popcorn to the microwave version.
- My last item is a Le Creuset 5-1/2-Quart French (Dutch) Oven, which is what I have now. If I were to do it again, I’d get the Le Creuset 6-3/4-Quart Oval French Oven, because I think the oval shape works better for what I mostly use it for – cooking roasts and brisket and the occasional casserole. (Plus I’d get it in the cassis/plum color that wasn’t available when I bought mine!) My all time favorite brisket recipe, that is braised in beer and onions is practically made for the Le Creuset!
Now, that’s just cookware. I could get into a whole other list involving appliances and accessories. Maybe that’ll be a post for a later date.
What would be YOUR list, if you were only limited to 5 items?