Picking The Right Pan For Every Recipe (2024)

Hi, my name is Tim Mussig.

I am the current Executive Director at J.B. Prince Company.

And today I'm gonna show you

how to pick the pan that's right for you.

When looking for a pan,

you should really ask yourself a few questions.

What do you like to cook?

How many people you're cooking for

and probably the capacity of your stove or your oven.

[upbeat music]

One of the more common or popular shapes

in cookware are fry pans.

A fry pan typically has an elongated handle,

a significant surface area for you to seer your food in

and generally flares out.

The flaring is what allows for some steam to escape

for browning of food.

It's also used when you wanna toss or manipulate product

maybe without using a utensil, with a kind of

simple flick of the wrist.

Now keep in mind that size is important

depending on what it is that you're cooking.

In most situations, you don't wanna overcrowd a pan

and you also don't wanna have too much negative space.

Volume is key.

In this pan that's here in front of me,

that's about an eight inch pan.

Typically used for maybe a single,

possibly two smaller appetizer portions of a protein

or something to that effect.

The one next to me would probably comfortably fit

maybe three portions of a protein.

You can cook identical foods in them, but again,

it's in relation to the volume

what it is that you need to cook.

In some situations, it might even be ideal to have

two smaller pans, rather than one large pan.

If you aren't able to meet the pan's actual capacity,

you could wind up for a situation

where that section of the pan becomes too hot,

and you could get some scorch or some discoloration.

There are also regional differences

in the shape of a fry pan.

The one here is kind of more typical of what you would see

I guess, in American households and American kitchens.

The one on this side here is Lyonnaise

or a shape that's inspired from Lyon.

Less surface area on the bottom,

the diameter of the actual cooking surface

is slightly smaller and it flares out quite a bit more.

The reason this is is so when you're browning product

you have a lot more of moisture releasing,

aiding the browning process.

If you were searing exclusively,

this might be a great benefit to have that additional flair.

Whereas this one, if you look at the outside diameter

and the base are pretty close,

you get a little bit more bang for your buck

in terms of surface area.

And this one, you get added benefit

of more moisture coming off of the pan.

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In front of us, we have two saucepans.

They're great for heating up sauces or any kind of liquids.

In the restaurant world, there tend to be

a lot on the smaller side because we're heating up sauces

a la Minute.

But at home you may want something a little bit bigger.

Another thing to consider when you're electing cookware

is the output of the burners in your home.

You generally wanna match the diameter

of your pan as close as possibly to the size of the burner.

The cost of the material may come into play.

So if you want it to have something

or not necessarily spend as much money on it

don't feel too bad about it.

You may wanna shift those dollars into fry pans

where the material becomes a little bit more relevant

in terms of cooking or contact with food.

For me, a saute pan is an interesting combination

between a traditional sauce pan and a fry pan.

Unlike a fry pan, the sides on a saute pan

are much straighter, almost meet the base at 90 degrees

and when adding liquids are stirring

it'll contain the liquid and you'll have

less of a mess on your hands.

The saute pan here is gonna be beneficial

when you wanna concentrate liquids

or evaporate flavor and the sauce pan should be better

at preserving or keeping those liquids

and maintaining temperature.

In this particular case, we're gonna use a saute pan.

The increased surface area allows you to put liquid in there

and help you concentrate flavors

and evaporate liquid more rapidly.

A lot more steam coming

off of the saute pan, meaning that there's

the reduction has begun to happen a lot more quickly.

Things are boiling in there.

Oh, the other distinct difference

between a fry pan and a sauce pan is that

you have similar diameters in the base and the top.

It gives you maximum surface area and points of contact

when you're actually frying something.

When you're shopping for or looking for a pan,

these are things you consider.

Do you tend to do more dry cooking with less liquids?

Do you wanna have something

that's a little bit more of a hybrid?

These are all important factors in getting

the most effective product for your needs.

Another feature or add benefit when using a saute pan

is for you to be able to use a lid.

Remember you're being able to add moisture to this pan

in a greater volume than you normally would with a fry pan.

So using a lid is perfectly acceptable.

Another tip for when you're shopping or looking

for cookware is if you can find

a common diameter amongst pans.

What that will allow you to do is pick a lid

that somewhat universal.

The French refer to as a Saucier

or rounded bottom sauce pan.

It has a unique feature where it's kind of a rounded shape

between where the base and the size of the pan meet.

It allows you to get a tool, like a whisk,

insert it into that corner there to make sure

that you're getting maximum contact with the pan

and moving product around efficiently.

The benefit of this is in other situations

where you're working in a traditional sauce pan,

you may leave some product behind

and may not efficiently get scraped out of the corners

and you can get some things that burn

or scorch in that process.

Here, we have a Rondeau.

It's kind of like the big brother to the saute pan.

It's for situations where at need

a little bit more capacity than a saute pan,

or when you're not gonna be maybe be shaking or manipulating

or tossing the food as much.

Great for shallow frying,

great for searing and great for braising.

This pan would be used in situations

where you may start with a sear and need to add a liquid

and then a lid.

If you tend to be cooking a lot,

need to cook in a certain volume and like braises or stews,

this could be a good option that gets you in between

half stock pot and a larger fry pan.

You'll often hear the term skillet,

usually associated with cast iron.

In essence, it's a variation or another name for a fry pan

or they fall into the same category or family.

This particular one has some interesting features

cause cast iron skillets tend to be relatively heavy.

They have an added helper handle

on the opposite side for lifting.

Handles also tend to be a little bit on the shorter side

and cast pieces because they are integral to the actual pan.

And these ones have some unique pour spouts on each side

'cause they tend to be slightly deeper than fry pans

with a little bit less of an ability to toss

simply 'cause they're too heavy to do that with any way.

The next pan I have here is a Crepe pan.

Very, very, very specific.

Not something you necessarily need to add to your repertoire

unless you love to make crepes, a fancy pancake if you will.

I think some French guy's gonna beat me up

for saying that.

You could use it for other things as well.

Store-bought tortillas that you maybe wanna heat up,

this might be a good option for you.

Another very specific piece of kitchen cookware is a wok.

Wok cooking is prevalent in Chinese or Asian cooking.

The heat that you need to adequately heat a wok

is something that's typically not available to in your home.

You may wanna try and adapt some of those recipes

or techniques to your standard fry pans.

Wok burners have a tremendous amount of control

in the variants of heat.

I've seen them cranked up as high as

where they're actually almost hitting the edges,

but it's the ability to get it super, super hot

that makes it as effective as it is.

Wok cooking is also very active.

When people cook with woks or people who do it well

are moving food around constantly.

And the utensils they use inside this round shape

accommodate that movement.

In front of me is another variation of a wok

that looks like it's been manipulated

to work on a home stove.

The bottom seems to be a little bit flatter.

Wooden handles on each side to accommodate heat transfer

and it has this helper handle on the opposite side

for when you may need the added lifting power.

There's some discoloration along the side here.

That discoloration looks like it was formed

by kind of overheating and too much oil

that was built up here.

It's actually the signs of probably a bad break in process

on a carbon steel wok.

This wok that we have in front of us

has a nonstick coating inside,

something I would never recommend.

Wok cooking is meant to be done at a really high heat.

Non-stick coatings are really not friendly to high heat.

The marriage here just doesn't make sense.

Just 'cause it's made that way,

doesn't mean it's good, or you should necessarily buy it.

We've covered, but a few different shapes and sizes

in the cookware world.

There's many more.

This was just an introduction to what we thought

was necessary and practical to get you started.

Certain cookware is very task specific and costly.

So make sure you're picking pans or cookware

that's right for your needs.

If you're not going to be making things in a tagine,

you don't need to buy one.

Another thing to look at and consider

when you're looking at pans is how handles are attached.

This particular pan they're riveted.

A rivet is basically a mechanical fastener of sorts.

They work well because they allow you

to have a good sturdy, strong handle.

And additionally, they allow manufacturers to mix metals.

A lot of pans will transfer heat into the handle.

And sometimes the manufacturer will intentionally pick

a material that's less conductive to heat.

So it'll keep you a little bit safer.

With that being said, or I always recommend

that you use some kind of protective thing,

like a dry towel or an oven mitt.

This particular handle is a flat construction.

It's something that I actually prefer.

It gives you a firm grip and allows the pan

to stay firm in your hand,

without tweaking to the left of the right

when you pick it up.

Another little added, interesting feature,

they punch out a little bit of material here,

which again reduces the heat transfer into the handle.

This pitch like this is really kind of beneficial

for saving you a little space.

If you were to crank it down to here

just it would probably come out to here

which professional situations it makes a big difference.

Another way of fixing handles to pans is with welds.

Welds are actually traditionally stronger than rivets.

They generally have a smoother finished on the inside,

making it more sanitary.

There's no place for kind of bits to accumulate.

You should always look for a pan

that has a significant amount of welds

to make sure it's fixed on properly and stays there.

I've seen as few as one, which I don't recommend.

This particular handle, is a hollow stainless steel handle.

Not really my favorite shape because it's rounded.

It did do something that's interesting

that I haven't seen a lot of rounded handle pans

that they've put a small indentation on the front side

and the backside to give you a place

for your thumb to firmly rest.

So when you are tossing or manipulating food,

it feels a lot more secure on your hand.

Another technique used to fix handles

is with a mechanical fastener, like a screw or a bolt.

You tend to see this in cost-effective or budget cookware.

I simply don't recommend it.

If that screw loosens or fails,

there's a high likelihood you're gonna hurt yourself.

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another thing that you will see from time to time

is one piece construction

where there's no fasteners for the handle.

This is actually a carbon steel construction

and you notice it's completely seamless and fixed

all the way through with one piece.

Also notice this one is done in a flat style as well.

Again, making it a little bit more comfortable or less prone

to tweaking in your hand.

There's probably a higher likelihood of a heat transfer

from the body into the handle

in these one piece constructions,

hence the cutout and the vent.

But again, keep in mind,

no matter what cookware you're using

you should always protect your hands

with some kind of dry side towel or oven mitt.

Some handles are not necessarily friendly to heat.

A lot of inexpensive pans have plastic handles

which you never wanna put into the oven.

Some handles like this one actually

have inserts or covers that fit over the handle,

which may be appropriate for the oven,

but in the case of open flames or if it comes exposed

to an actual gas stove, it could melt

and it could be kind of gross and toxic.

Because stainless steel by itself

tends to be a relatively poor conductor of heat,

it generally married to some other materials.

They can do it with a sandwich bottom construction

where they actually fuse or add a disk

to the bottom of the pan.

This is a sandwich of stainless steel, aluminum,

and then the stainless steel body itself.

That brings more heat to the base of the pan

and gives you better heat retention.

They are higher heat at the cooking surface.

The other is a clad construction

and what that basically means is that

there is this identical material from the base

all the way through the top.

Nothing's fused or added.

This is actually five layers of material

that alter between aluminum and stainless

and there's also some ferous or magnetic material in here

to make this induction friendly already.

The material used in this pan is the same thickness

and same density from top to bottom.

There's no variation.

In a sandwich bottom, the thickness is just here

at the base, but that density of aluminum

or that thickness allows for great heat retention

and also lowers the cost of a pan.

So it's kind of an economic or good value point

for a quality stainless piece.

The one thing that you have to be cautious of

in sandwich bottom construction is if you begin to send heat

beyond the disk, you may experience some scorch

between that disc and the actual pan itself.

So be careful to control your flame.

If you elect to buy the style of cookware.

When you're talking about clad cookware,

they'll generally offer millimeters and thicknesses.

A rule of thumb is that most quality clad

stainless steel cookware starts at around 2.5 millimeters.

Picking it up and feeling it are good indicators

of the quality, cause weight and density

are an important factor in that.

A pan that's heavier or has more mass

is a better retainer of heat,

one of the reasons why people love cast iron so much.

The more dense the pan is, or the heavier it is,

it generally takes longer to heat and on the opposite side,

longer to cool.

When it's time to clean up,

you have to let it come down in temperature.

[upbeat music]

In front of me I have an aluminum fry pan.

It's around eight inches.

Really, really common in the restaurant industry.

Aluminum is a good option for value.

It has great conductor of heat.

it's also lightweight.

Its cons are, it tends to be reactive.

It can spot and at high heat, it'll misshapen.

This pan is great for someone who is just starting out

and looking for a good value and performance.

Aluminum pans are made in a variety of shapes and sizes.

You'll see stock pots fry pans, rondeaus,

is a process called anodizing,

which is a basically a hardening of aluminum.

They'll add a black color to the aluminum.

It'll make it less reactive and also add a little bit

of a better heat exchange because of that dark coloration.

Anodizing is probably worth

the extra investment for the longevity.

In my experience, if you take care of your cookware,

it should treat you well for an extended period of time.

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Stainless steel is fantastic

for mostly reasons related to maintenance.

It's extremely durable.

It resists rust and it's very easy to maintain.

Its downsides is that it's typically

not a great conductor of heat.

In most cases of better cookware, it's usually blended

with another material to enhance its thermal conductivity

and make it a better vessel for cooking in.

So what would happen in terms of poor heat conduction

is that it's very spotty and blotchy

so you won't have a good even heating surface.

So there could be a situation that you put a protein

into their pan, and there may be a side

that is actually cooking faster than the other side,

which is obviously something that you don't want.

You're always looking for even

and consistent heat when cooking.

Stainless steel is the universal cookware in the sense

that anything can go in it, it's not reactive.

Stainless steel is the most dishwasher friendly

of all the materials.

Keep in mind that stainless steel

doesn't mean that it will never rust.

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One very important point that you always have to remember

in any cookware that you use,

before you clean it, let it cool.

And if you can, you should wash

all of your cookware by hand.

If you could towel dry or remove

as much moisture as humanly possible from your pan,

that's also a great idea.

Any water on any metallic surface

for an extended period of time,

you run the risk of rust.

The one on my left hand side

is one that has never been used before,

out of the box.

The blackened one has been broken in

over an extended period of time.

Makes the pan naturally non-stick.

Carbon steel pans are very well-suited for searing.

Carbon steel pans tend to come to heat faster

than cast iron pans, which are thicker material.

In addition, the break-in period for carbon steel pans

is generally quicker because the surface is smoother.

The simplest way to force a patina or to get the pan

to be blackened is by warming it and rubbing it

with very, very thin coats of oil.

I like to do the inside and the outside

to make sure the coloration is even and then

put it in a low oven at about 250 degrees

for extended period of time.

Remove it, let it cool and repeat.

The more you use it, that color will also come with it.

Carbon steel pans are generally very affordable.

For the durability and longevity, they fall somewhere

in between the price of aluminum and stainless steel.

There is a certain amount of maintenance that is involved.

If you tend to be the kind of person

that wants to get in and out of the kitchen fast,

this may not be the right cookware for you.

And I'm about to break one of my own cardinal rules

to demonstrate something.

We're gonna saute some onions and add some acid to it.

What probably will happen is that there will be actually

some of the pan patina we'll pull into the onions

and discolor them.

Squeezing some lemon in here.

This pan is pretty well broken in.

It has a pretty strong patina,

but I just squeezed literally, probably the equivalent

of about a teaspoon.

It's starting to actually strip out some of the patina

in this area here.

I'm 100% sure I'll have a pretty gross and metallic taste.

The acid is not friendly to the kind of polymerization

of the patina that you've built up on this pan

and it actually kind of breaks it down.

You're stripping it away with the acid in essence.

The lesson here is if you're going to be making pan sauces

and where you're gonna be using acids or kind of reductions,

carbon steel is probably not for you.

[upbeat music]

In front of me, we have a cast iron skillet or fry pan.

Probably one of the more iconic materials in cookware.

As a material, it's really not a great conductor of heat

but because it's generally made so dense and so thick,

allows you to develop and hold heat

for an extended period of time

which makes it great for searing.

It's also a great option if you wanna go

from stove to oven and this also reactive with acidic foods.

The maintenance of cast iron is similar carbon steel.

It is definitely not dishwasher friendly.

If it's not dried and handled appropriately,

it will tend to rust.

Because of its durability, it tends to last

an extremely long time.

If you were to buy a brand new cast iron pan

you can do it very, very inexpensively.

There are certain brands in cast iron

that have become highly collectible.

I think lodge pieces from a certain period.

There's another company called Erie and Griswold

that will go for hundreds of dollars at auction.

[upbeat music]

So in front of us, we have a cast iron enamel Dutch oven.

And in essence, what that is, is a cast piece

that's been coated with a ceramic or an enamel coating.

It allows you to cook with reactive foods.

It reduces the amount of rust that could occur in the pan.

And just a little bit more user-friendly.

The coating doesn't necessarily make it around

this entire lip here.

This is actually exposed cast iron.

So if you were to put it into a dishwasher,

you would wind up having rust.

They put these dimples on here.

So water returns back into what it is that you're cooking.

Cast iron enamel is super easy to maintain.

All you have to do is let it cool.

Use a mild detergent and wipe it out.

This particular cast iron enamel piece

happens to be a Dutch oven,

but it is available in different shapes and sizes.

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Copper cookware is a classic material

for making pots and pans.

You see it often hanging

in very, very classic French restaurants.

It gets hot fast and it keeps heat even,

which is essential to cooking.

Its downsides are that it is highly reactive

and very, very difficult to maintain

and lastly, super expensive.

I think this is probably like 180 bucks.

Just to give you an idea of the degree of maintenance

associated with copper,

it doesn't stay shiny and beautiful for very long.

These are just fingerprints.

This was brand new out of the bag.

It will get a really strange tinge in color

if you don't polish it and take care of it.

You see that it's lined with stainless

and that material is necessary in order to make the pan

usable and not reactive, if you will.

And then there's the copper exterior.

Once you have copper that has a stainless steel lining

there's no limitations to really what you can cook in it.

If you were looking to outfit your kitchen with copper

and have a deep collection,

it could cost you thousands of dollars.

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Non-stick is really a reference to a coating,

not necessarily the pan's overall material.

Non-stick surfaces are common in cookware.

In this country, they're often referred to as Teflon,

which it could be a brand name for that coating.

In recent times, there's been some bad press

related to Teflon.

To address this, manufacturers have started

to remove the harmful chemicals from non-stick,

making it safe again.

It's highly recommended if you've purchased

your pan before the year 2013,

that you should replace it with one of the newer versions

where the chemicals have been addressed and removed.

Nonstick cookware has also become popular

for people who have health concerns and need to use

a limited amount of fat in their cooking.

Most non-stick pans are generally priced reasonably.

They're usually adhere to aluminum pans.

You can see them on stainless as well.

I wouldn't recommend making a big investment

into a non-stick pan simply because

the coatings do tend to fail

after an extended period of time.

I personally use non-stick for one thing in my house

and that's to cook eggs.

In front of me, I have two pans.

One with a nonstick coating and one

that's a traditional straight stainless steel.

We're going to add an equal amount of fat to each

to try and demonstrate the benefits of a non-stick pan

when frying an egg.

You'll notice the stainless, if I just even

kind of do a light tilt, even with fat,

it's really not going anywhere.

Nonstick with like a simple little nudge

from a high spot here, will start

to move around pretty easily.

Even after I loosen it, it's kind of stuck in place.

I think I'm gonna do some little dangerous here

with the non-stick.

I'm already able to flip it, no utensils

and no extra manipulation.

This bad boy, it ain't going anywhere.

He's stuck on there.

That's really the benefit of the non-stick pan,

especially when you're cooking eggs.

It tends to be not so durable under high heat

and not last for particularly long period of time

and it is not recommended for the dishwasher

as it will deteriorate from the detergents in there too.

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Ceramic is used for substitute for a nonstick coating.

It became extremely popular when people had health concerns

related to the chemicals in nonstick or Teflon.

Is rated at a higher temperature,

so you can bring it up to a higher temperature

but it's non-stick properties tend to be not as good.

So think they're on or about what nonstick costs,

maybe a little bit more.

I literally had one for a week.

It sucked and I never used it one again.

So literally that's my, my synopsis of ceramic.

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Price of cookware is influenced

by a variety of different areas.

It could be where it's made.

It could be the construction.

It could be the material.

It's very very important to make sure

you have a good understanding of all of those things

before you make an investment.

Make sure you do your research

and you don't overpay or overbuy.

You wanna buy pans that are appropriate for your needs

in your home or in your kitchen.

It's not necessarily advantageous to always buy

the most expensive cookware.

Hopefully the information today

will help you pick your next piece of cookware.

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Picking The Right Pan For Every Recipe (2024)


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