A complete set of pots and pans hanging in your kitchen gleams with the potential of gourmet creations. But it can also be intimidating.
Between the various sized sauce pans, sauté pans, nonstick frying pans and stock pots, not to mention the multiple inserts, it’s difficult to know if you’re using the right pan for your recipe.
Not to worry, says Sue Hoff, a senior principal engineer at Amway who has worked on developing cookware products for the past 31 years.
“I don’t think there is ever a right or wrong pan to choose,” Hoff said. “There is always a best choice, but there is never a wrong choice.
“We get busy and we don’t always have the ‘right’ pan in the kitchen at the right time in our lives. But that shouldn’t stop us from enjoying cooking. Don’t stress.”
That being said, we tapped Hoff’s expertise to provide a rundown on various pots and pans and what they are best used for.
Sauce pans are ideal for – you guessed it – sauce! The deeper sides concentrate the food instead of spreading it out.
In iCook™ pans from Amway, the sauce pans are also ideal for using the Vitalok™ cooking method. Vitalok™ is low-moisture cooking that “locks in” a food’s vitamins, nutrients and color.
“Vitalok cooking works by retaining the moisture in the pan when you’re cooking,” Hoff said. “We’re creating a gentle steam environment and not leaching the water soluble nutrients from the foods being cooked.”
The lid is key in Vitalok cooking, she said. If it floats and spins freely, you’ve achieved the perfect cooking temperature. If the lid is bumping and chattering, the temp is too high.
“Once you find the sweet spot, it’s just cooking to your preference.”
Sauté pans have wide bottoms and vertical walls that are shorter than a sauce pan. They are most often used for frying and sautéing foods, Hoff said. (Sautéing, as opposed to frying, is cooking with only a little bit of fat.)
“You don’t want a large side wall if you want to get in and turn the food,” she said. “The straight sides help to capture the food for turning, too.”
Nonstick frying pan
This pan with rounded edges and a nonstick surface is a hero at breakfast, Hoff said. The nonstick surface requires less oil or butter – and therefore less calories – to get the job done.
“Its most important use is to fry an egg without any frustration,” she said. “You can certainly cook an egg in a stainless steel pan, but the most stress-free way to do it is with a nonstick pan. Really, it’s fantastic for any breakfast food, from bacon to eggs to pancakes.”
The nonstick pans offered by Amway use an extremely durable Duramic™ coating, Hoff said.
“When cared for properly, it will last for many years,” she said. That means avoiding high heat and seasoning it regularly.
To season it, add cooking oil or shortening to the pan, spreading it all over the pan’s cooking surface up to the rim. This fills the micropores of the pan’s surface, Hoff said.
Heat the pan on medium until it begins to smoke. Remove from heat. When cool, simply wipe off the excess oil with a paper towel.
Dutch oven or stock pot
The Dutch oven, or stock pot, is the go-to pot for big batch cooking. Its large size with extra deep walls is ideal for soups, stews, pastas and other items that need boiling, Hoff said. And its size helps prevent spills from boiling over, which are not the easiest thing to clean up!
“iCook has a unique stock pot in that we have a pasta inset that comes with it,” Hoff said. “It’s unique design allows for draining back into the pot.”
Lifting the inset and turning a half turn allows it to rest on the accessory ring of the pop, letting the water drain right back into the pot.
“You no longer need to carry a hot pot across the kitchen to drain the water,” she said. “You could use it for boiling potatoes, lobsters, cabbage, anything where you want to submerge and then drain it.”
Chocoholics know that this pan set is ideal for melting chocolate or cooking other ingredients that don’t do well over direct heat.
It’s a pan of water set to boil with another pan that sits on top of it, creating a gentle cooking method that is required for recipes every now and then.
The good thing about the iCook™ double boiler, Hoff said, is that it has other uses. It’s a four-quart stock pot with a double boiler insert.
“You can actually do stovetop baking with it, using that for baking a cake while something else is in the oven,” she said.
That’s your pots and pans primer. Now you can choose your pan like a pro and impress your friends at your next dinner party.
Do you have more questions about cookware? Find the answers when you check out iCook™ cookware offerings at Amway.com. Tell us your go-to pan by leaving a comment!