Alex Advises: Pots and Pans in the Kitchen by Alex Guarnaschelli in Food Network Chef, How-to, August 23rd, 2011
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Every week, Alex Guarnaschelli, host of Alex’s Day Off, shares with readers what she’s eating — whether it’s from the farmers’ market or fresh off the boat, she’ll have you craving everything from comfort food to seasonal produce.
I cook at home a lot of the time. Now, as a professional chef, I’d be lying to you if I said I always did. Sure, I grew up in a house where almost everything was made from scratch, but after a 15-hour shift at the restaurant, my first instinct wasn’t always to run home and bake a lattice-topped apple pie from scratch. In the past couple of years, that has definitely changed.
For me, cooking at home has been a great way to build better eating habits. When I shop at the green market for the restaurant, I now pick up a handful of vegetables for myself. I don’t always have the time to cook the way I’d like to, and I also don’t have a lot of room in my Manhattan kitchen. That makes my choices all the more important — I don’t want to deal with kitchen clutter.
As far as a set of pots and pans goes, I think a small, medium and large sauté pan and a large, heavy-bottomed pot for boiling a good amount of water for pasta and stocks are a great start to a collection. I’d rather buy three or four more expensive, high-quality pots and pans than a dozen cheap ones. To supplement the pans, I love a seasoned cast-iron skillet for anything from getting the perfect sear on steaks to using it as a baking dish for a skillet corn-bread. The last piece of equipment I recommend is a cast-iron enamel Dutch oven — it’s great for stews, braises and my slow-cooked chicken soup.
There are so many tempting ways to spend money (and way more than you set out to) on kitchen equipment and, let’s face it, the kitchen is like a playground for adults. Start simple. Buy what you love and base it on the things you like to cook at home, not what you think you’re supposed to have in your kitchen.