For every conceivable method of cooking, there is a pan to go along with it. One of the most important things about cooking, is making sure you have the right tool for the job. In this post we will begin with establishing a common vocabulary of pans. Later in the week we will go into different materials used and the pros and cons of each.
This is by all means, not an all encompassing list. there are hybrids and there are other pans used for different applications, various sizes and so on. Next to each name we will give a brief description and what some common uses are.
THE CREPE PAN
Well I am sure you can guess what this is good for! It is a thin metal pan, usually with a non-stick or seasoned surface. The pan is thin so heat moves quickly through it which makes it quickly to respond to temperature changes.
The Sauteuse is the common sauté pan. The edges are gently curved to make it easier for chefs to toss the ingredients. These can be made of pretty much any material, and each have their own uses. A 10″ inch sauteuse is the workhorse of every kitchen. I always suggest a pan which can be placed into the oven as well.
The Sautoir is a heavier pan typically, with straight sides. This is because it is commonly used for sauces and reductions, where the flat, heavier bottom helps the cooking process. It makes a good pot to cook a protein in, then make an accompanying pan sauce. These can come in all sizes from a few inches up to 14 inches, but are almost always 2-3 inches tall. If you buy one of these, I always suggest buying one with a matching lid.
What makes a saucepan different than the Sautoir is that it is only used for sauces. These might even have a spout on one side that helpful for pouring. The sides will tend to be much higher than that of its cousin, but its mission is not reduction, so a large bottom is not required. A good sauce pot should be pretty heavy so you get a good distribution of heat along the bottom.
Also known as a braiser, these pans tend to be pretty large and heavy. The basic pan is designed, like the sauteuse, to cook a protein then to deglaze with a liquid and be put into an oven. Sometimes there is a cover, but most of the time a piece of foil works just fine.
Choosing the pan you want to use depends mostly on how you are going to use it. A Rondeau is not a common pan in a household, and a dutch oven might be just fine for the task at hand, so also look for pans that are multi-taskers.
At least every kitchen should have a Sauteuse, a Saucepan, and probably a Sautoir. These pans make up the majority of your cooking tools, and the others can usually be substituted in for one of these.
Choosing the right material is another issue altogether, and one for another post… so stay tuned!