July 27, 2010
Tip of the Week: July 25th, 2009

Pots and Pans: TheEssentials
Excerpted from
"Two Dudes One Pan: Maximum Flavor from a Minimalist Kitchen"

By Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo,
published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, 2008

When we were thinking of the different pots and pans to use, we decidedto focus on the truly essential pieces, the ones that no kitchen shouldbe without. These are the ones that we think are the most important.

The Big Bowl
With one large bowl, you can make a variety of dishes, from salads toceviches. We prefer metal to glass because we can bang it around on thecounter and in the sink without worrying that it will break. Wood isfine for salads, but don't use it for ceviche because the bowl will geta fishy smell. Mixing bowls are one of the few pieces of equipment thatyou can cheap out on. Save your money for a good quality skillet,roasting pan, or Dutch oven instead.

Nonstick Skillet
Instead of making a big investment in an expensive nonstick skillet,buy an inexpensive one that has moderate heft and a comfortable,welded-on handle (the screwed-on handles can come loose an get wobblywith time). You really shouldn't spend more than fifty bucks on anonstick skillet. A twelve-inch nonstick can fry a frittata just aswell as it can accommodate long fish fillets. It's the size werecommend to start with; though a small eight-inch nonstick comes inhandy for frying eggs.

Classic Skillet
Whether you call it a frying pan, a skillet, or a sauteacute; pan, agood-quality, evenly weighted skillet is one of the most importantpieces of equipment in your kitchen. This is the pan you'll turn totime and time again for searing meats, sauteacute;ing vegetables, andmaking pan sauces. The handle should be oven-safe so the pan can gofrom the stovetop to the oven or broiler without a problem. Enameledcast iron works well, too, but we find it on the heavy side. If youwant to work on your biceps while you cook, though, go for it! As withthe nonstick skillet, a twelve-inch skillet is the size to start with.

Dutch Oven
This is a piece of equipment worth investing in. It's used for slow,wet cooking methods, such as braising short ribs in beer orslow-cooking lamb shanks with wine. Since it's constructed forstovetop-to-oven cooking, a Dutch oven is usually made of heaviermaterial that can withstand long stays in a hot oven. A six-quart Dutchoven can comfortably hold big pieces of meat and roasts and is deepenough to contain any liquid you add for the cooking process. In apinch you can make soup, boil water for pasta, and deep-fry in a Dutchoven, making it a really valuable all-around player in the kitchen.

Roasting Pan
When you're dry roasting without much liquid, this is the pan tochoose. It should be large and deep enough to hold a six-bone prime ribor a Thanksgiving turkey, with handles that are easy to get a good,solid grip on. Invest in a roasting pan with a thick, even, andheavy-gauge bottom. If you can't devote that kind of money to a pan,then you can always place a baking sheet underneath a flimsier roastingpan to provide a little more support. Be sure to purchase a roastingrack along with your roasting pan if it doesn't come with one. Theseare handy for elevating chickens or pork loins to circulate air formore even browning.

Baking Dish
We use a 9 by 13-inch 3-quart glass baking dish for all of ourdesserts. You could get all fancy here if you wanted and buy a priceyglazed porcelain or clayware baking dish, but we opt for the tried andtrue (and cheap) glass Pyrex dish for a few reasons. One, it's cool topeek into the oven and see right through the baking dish to check thecolor of what's baking (which is why we also prefer glass over metalbaking pans). Two, its curved corners are easy to clean. Three, if itbreaks, it's no problem. Go to any department store or even a grocerystore and you can replace it for less than fifteen dollars.

We didn't include a saucepan chapter in our book because you can'treally make a meal in a saucepan. That said, a saucepan is useful forlots of things, such as making rice, polenta, fruit compotes andsauces, and cream sauces (cregrave;me anglaise, beacute;arnaise, andmore); heating stock; and blanching small-cut vegetables. Saucepanshave straight edges and sharp corners while sauciers have roundedcorners; they're fairly interchangeable, though sauciers are a littlebetter for making cream sauces because you can really get into thecorners. We tend to prefer good-quality heavy-gauge steel-cladaluminum- or copper-core saucepans because they heat evenly and retainheat - qualities that are vital for rice and cream sauces. We like longhandles to keep our hands away from the heat, and we prefer weldedhandles or riveted ones to those attached to the base by screws thatcan come loose with time. A good 2- or 3-quart saucepan should lastawhile.

In June 2008, Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo created LA's newestrestaurant, animal. The food is fresh and seasonal, refined yet rustic,and perfects the rare art of unpretentious sophistication. In addition,Jon and Vinny are the 'dudes behind the Food Network show Two DudesCatering, and have appeared on Iron Chef America and Last Call withCarson Daly. TWO DUDES, ONE PAN is their first book. For moreinformation visit http://twodudesonepan.blogspot.com/ andhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fs6EtLqP5Wg.Permission granted for useonDrLaura.com.

Posted by Staff at 7:22 PM