As I’ve continued doing my Chris Cooks videos and posts, probably the most common question I receive is, “What cookware do you use?” And we’ve shared thoughts on this over the years, and I have spent dollars not a few on gimmicky cookware and utensils that gradually made their way to the back of the cupboard or the bottom of the drawer. But as my cooking has evolved, I’ve really come to recognize the cookware items in my house that I am constantly turning to, and that make my cooking experience so enjoyable.
Another facet of this is that, up until several months ago I didn’t give much thought to the materials I was using. But with Jules’ health, we’ve been examining every aspect of our environment, and the dangers of Teflon are no joke. We recently replaced all of our Teflon nonstick with GreenPan ceramic nonstick, and I’ll never go back. Let’s put aside the “health” aspects of Teflon which, for better or worse, not everyone buys into. The nonstick nature of ceramic holds up a lot longer than Teflon, and many ceramic finishes are safe for use with metal utensils. On top of that, they’re right on par in price, and many brands of ceramic are even cheaper than Teflon. We have their Valencia line, but you can find so many of GreenPan’s options on eBay by using their simple filtering options.
My frying pans are definitely the work horses in my kitchen. I have 4 of them, and there are days I’ll use all four, or a few of them several times. They’re versatile and definitely something every kitchen should have. Fun fact, the best steak you’ll ever have in your life is made on the stove top, in a frying pan from GreenPan®. And GreenPan’s ceramic finish is metal utensil-safe.
A sauté pan gives you higher edges than a frying pan, along with more volume. It’s great great for sauces, shallow frying and braising. Sear some chicken in it, add garlic, cream, lemon and herbs, cover and finish in the oven. Some parmesan and capers to finish and you’ve got an easy chicken piccata.
This is an affordable little thing that can do a lot of work in your kitchen, especially for leaner cooking. This basket allows you to turn almost any lidded pot or pan into a steamer by raising your food out of the cooking liquid. I’ve used it for fish, dumplings, vegetables, and reheating previously cooked dishes. A great thing to have that doesn’t take up much space.
I’m a big, big fan of cast iron, but I don’t care for the upkeep or acid sensitivity. Enter the enamel coating, which can be cleaned with dish soap and doesn’t react to acid foods like tomatoes. I bought mine from eBay after stewing for days over all the amazing options they had, and I use it multiple times a week. Love it so much.
They also make Teflon-coated woks, and that’s just about the worst idea ever. Woks are meant for stir frying. Stir frying is supposed to happen at super high heats. Teflon fails and flakes at super high heat. Carbon steel is durable and quick nonstick so long as you keep it seasoned well. Stir fried vegetables is a common side around here, and my wok gets at least weekly use.
I feel that every kitchen should have a gigantic stock pot. Most cooks won’t use it weekly, but when you need capacity it earns its place in your kitchen. Whether you’re actually making stock to be stored in the freezer for future use, or a stew for 20 people, you won’t regret having this one around, and the enamel coating holds up amazingly well to long cook times. Le Creuset is an amazing brand and this stockpot is really affordable for its size.
Gratin. Lasagna. Shephard’s pie. Baked ziti. Herb crusted chicken. All things made in a baking dish, all things that are making your (and my) mouth water right now. The baking dish is what carries the food that earns the “oohs” and “ahhs” at the dinner table, so go for high-quality ceramic. And this baking dish from Staub comes in matte black and is a show-stopper in its own right. But eBay is also a great place to find cool, vintage pieces.
We were given our baking stone when we got married. It looked like all of them – pale tan, and a little less nonstick than one would hope. But the beauty of a baking stone is that it takes on elements of the food you cook on it slowly over time, and as you can see below ours has seasoned amazingly well as we’ve used it over the years. Always preheat a baking stone in the oven at full heat for at least 30 minutes. The surface is now naturally nonstick, and it produces crispy results every time. So don’t let yourself think of it as “just for pizza.” Use it often, and you’ll be well rewarded for it.
Of course there are other things you can add to your cooking arsenal, but having the above gets almost all your bases covered, and makes sure you have a kitchen that works for you, even if storage is limited.
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