Every cook dreams of having a kitchen like those you see on TV complete with a pot rack full of gleaming cookware in every shape and size. While this daydream probably isn’t entirely realistic, it is possible to have a well stocked kitchen that will fit your every cooking desire. Before you run out and purchase a set of pots and pans, get a working knowledge of what types of cookware are best suited to your needs. Use this handy checklist to see what your kitchen is missing.
Skillets: A skillet is simply a low sided, long handled pan often called a frying pan. Generally skillets come in four sizes, extra large (12 Inches), large (10 Inches), medium (8 inches), and small(6 inches). Cookbooks often refer you to certain size skillets, so it is important to know the measurement of each one. Occasionally you will have a recipe that requires you to place a skillet in the oven, so it is important to purchase skillets with handles that can withstand the heat of baking. You can also purchase skillets with removable handles.
Saucepans: Saucepans come in three sizes (1-, 2-, and 3-quart) and it is a good idea to have a few in each style for warming soups and making sauces. Saucepans have long handles and tight fitting lids.
Dutch oven or Kettle: A Dutch oven or kettle is a large heavy stock pot with a tight fitting lid. Unlike a sauce pan, these pots don’t have a long handle; rather they have two tight fitting handles along the rim on opposite sides. Dutch ovens are perfect for soups, stews, and braising meats. Kettles are good when you have a large stew or pot of soup to make or if you enjoy home canning.
Vegetable steamer: A vegetable steamer is a perforated basket that holds food over boiling water in a pan in order to steam it rather than boil it. They are available as collapsible units or solid baskets.
Double boiler: A double broiler is two pans doing the job of one. When using a double broiler, simply place one on top of the other. Water in the bottom pan simmers gently to cook or melt the contents in the top pan. This is a great piece of cookware for preparing delicate sauces or melting candy to make chocolate.
Griddles: A griddle is a flat, rimless pan that converts your stove burner into a smooth surface for preparing things like pancakes and crepes. The rimless design also makes flipping pancakes an easy task.
Omelet pans: An omelet pan has specially sloped sides that help to form your egg into the right shape. This pan also comes with a nonstick surface make it easy to fold and slide your omelet right from the pan onto your plate.
Grill pans: A grill pan is a special skillet that has deep groves that allow fat to drain away from your food. The grooves also add lines to the items you cook, making them look like they have been seared on the barbeque grill. A grill pan also comes in the flat rimless shape of a skillet.
Woks: A wok is a pan with deep, sloping sides that help keep food pieces in the pan when you are stir-frying. They are available with rounded or flat bottoms, and sometimes come in electric versions.