Pots & Pans

Pots are usually measured by liquid capacity and pans by their diameter.

I have learned by looking at ads that everything is called a pan today — so I will attempt to be modern. And use the term pans when I remember.

Pans must have beefy bottoms like the baseball and football players some of us drool over.

It’s the job of a beefy bottom to distribute the heat evenly. Scrawny cheapo bottoms are totally unpredictable.  Ain’t it the truth?

Beefy pans are heavier than their lean counterparts. When you tap them on the bottom with something like a wooden spoon they emit a manly “thump”. When struck, scrawny bottoms clang annoyingly like a bad drag queen craving attention.

That said, you don’t need cabinets full of pots and pans or racks dangling gleaming copper ware over your center island.

Pans are like good friends — they are few and trustworthy.

What Pans Do You Need?

I suggest you go to AMAZON. COM and look at the pictures and prices of pans. The beefy bottom pans a generally the most expensive with names like Caphalon, All Clad, Cuisinart etc. Take a look at this link and the suggestions of other brands to see what is available. My advice is to avoid the cookware and other kitchen equipment promoted by TV Chefs who do not have a “conflict of interest”….wink wink.

Take a look:


This is what I think you will need:

  • *A large soup or pasta or stock pot which holds about 8 – 10 Qt.

Remember you must carry this pot to the sink filled with boiling water and pasta, so do not over achieve. I asked Ms Google and discovered that 8 quarts of water weighs about 16.7 lb.  This may be fine when you are gym toned BUT good pots last a lifetime.

  • *An 8″ Omelette Pan — You can get away with just the 10” pan
  • 10″ Omelette Pan
  • 1.5 Qt Sauce Pan with Cover
  • 2.5 Qt Sauce Pan with Cover
  • 4.5 Qt Sauce Pan with Cover
  • 3 Qt Sauté Pan with Cover

The long handle is not your friend
The sauté pan in this picture is a Calphalon Professional Series saute pan. These tend to have a long handle.   Problem is — these pans don’t fit easily in the oven.  When these pans fit they are very difficult to remove because one must grip the red hot handle with two hands and process with it to the countertop. This can be dangerous if one has weak wrists or a bad sense of direction.

I purchased this pan many years ago before I had things like practicality and age appropriate  figured out.

I have replaced this old long-handle sauté pan with a two handle version.  It works perfectly on top of the stove for recipes that require sautéing only and it can travel to the oven for things like braising.

AND it can be brought to the table for serving if done with Panache.


Saute Pan

The pan pictured here is perfect for meals like BRAISED PORK CHOPS recipe in  the Technique Page.

What else do you need?

Roasting Pan

You will also need a roasting pan, preferably one with graspable handles that allow you to remove it from the oven without a scalding disaster.

Metal roasting pans are usually deeper than the glass baking dishes that many use for roasting.

The benefit of the extra depth is that these make wonderful lasagna pans and the handles have it all over the glass dishes which can be spilly.

I have shared another link to show you the range of roasting pans available. I prefer the ones with handles that rise above the edges of the pan. This is the Amazon link to Calphalon one of many quality manufactures.


I chose this link because it provides several pictures and price points of roasting pans. It also includes a picture of a small roasting rack which is great for making chicken, pork, beef etc. You will notice that this rack is raised above the surface of the pan. This allows you to spread vegetables under the roast so they get the benefit of drippings from the meat.

In selecting a roast pan think of the width of your oven. You must be able to remove it securely from the heat. The depth of the pan will lessen the danger of spills associated with what are really baking dishes like Pyrex.

YES These metal roast pans do mean hand washing, so pretend you are living in Provence or Umbria where dishwashers are only for the wealthy.

Cookie Sheet

You should have a large cookie sheet that allows you to reach in the oven and remove it without burning your hand.  Cookie sheets serve many purposes besides baking chocolate chip cookies.

I place a cookie sheet on the oven rack below a pie to catch the inevitable overflow of juices.  You can bake sweet potatoes, roast peppers etc etc. on a cookie sheet.

Cookie sheets are cheap. Meaning clean it, yes, but don’t treat it like your fancy roast pan.

 If you get into baking you will need cake and loaf pans. Lets hold off on these for now.


  • Field Trip

If you don’t know what a good pot or pan looks like,  make a field trip to your local gourmet kitchen shop or department store and look at the most expensive pots and pans they have. Notice how the handles are attached through the sides of the pan. Feel the thickness of the metal.  Knock on the beefy bottom which should sound like a gong. See how perfectly lids fit.

Or go to a snooty foodie’s condo and look at the perfectly clean unused pots hanging from the wrought iron French Country rack above the preparation island. Don’t accept dinner invitations until you have mastered The Art of Kooking Kweer.

When you have done you research,  you may want to go to a kitchen supply store and purchase your pots and pans there. Or you may find that you prefer to mix brands of cookware so you feel at home with each pan.

Invest in good pans … they will last longer than most of the lovers in our lives.

  • Testing Your Pans

How do you know if a sauce pan is good.  Here is a simple test.  Put a cup of white sugar by itself in one of your saucepans and cook over medium high heat. Sir the sugar at regular intevals.  Observe the sugar.  It should melt evenly and eventually caramelize — becoming a molten golden liquid that you find in a flan.  If your pan distributes heat evenly as it should do, then you will have caramelized sugar.  If you have clumps and a burnt mass,  you have a lousy pan.  You can also test saute pans by browning meat and noticing how evenly it develops color and crust.


Sugar Melting In A Good Sauce Pan

Sugar Melting in A Good Sauce Pan

Caeemelized Sugar

Caramelized Sugar