Let me begin with a special thank you to all contributors who have greatly expanded my knowledge of and contributed to my passion for all things cooking. Apologies in advance for this lengthy and somewhat disorganized post and thank you for your help.
I am a frequent lurker who has spent a substantial amount of time researching and learning about cookware over the last two weeks, primarily here on Chowhound. Special thank you to Kaleo and Claus, among many, many others.
I am in the process of conceptualizing and building a minimalist kitchen from ground zero and need your help. Although this group has provided a wealth of information, I have reached a point of information overload: I've read seemingly every post and thread on all things cookware. I also recognize the term "minimalist kitchen" may be oxymoronic, as the more I look for kitchenware that is multi-use or that I believe will provide the greatest utility, the more I understand that one or two multi-functional pieces of cookware or devices are inferior to a device that is designed for a specific task.
I am 27 and an avid home cook. I don't do much baking. I most often cook for two people but do have dinner parties once every other month where I am cooking for six or more people. My knife skills are very good but not great. I tend to cook simple food, making do without equipment, but sometimes venture out and make risotto, roasts, stews and the like in an ill fitting pan, whether a pie pan for roasts or a concave saucepan for risotto. My goal is to build a kitchen today with pieces that will be as functional and beautiful when I have older children. I am legitimately starting from ground zero, so please envision this as if there is an empty kitchen with not one knife, cutting board, pan or device. While my budget is not unlimited, I am not constrained by a specific number. If a $700 retail Mauviel m250c rondeau is the best rondeau for me, I won't hesitate to purchase it. But by the same token if I can get similar performance by a Fissler domed lid casserole/rondeau or a Paderno for a fraction of the price that is certainly preferred.
I am currently cooking in a kitchen which is under-equipped by any reasonable standard. To give you an idea, this kitchen does not have as much as a dutch oven, rondeau, large sautee pan, cast-iron or nonstick skillet, to name a few things. It is equipped with a 16 quart stockpot, 4 quart round dutch oven style stainless steel pot, 3.5 qt sautee pan, a 10 in stainless steel skillet and 2 and 3 quart saucepans. I previously had a food processor, which was infrequently used and an immersion blender, which I used at least twice a week. This kitchen is equipped with nice Thermador induction burners. I anticipate moving to gas in the next six months, but can foresee moving a number of times over the next decades, which means copper might not be the best for me, unless we are talking about the newer Falk Coeur line which is induction compatible.
To date, I have purchased and kept the following:
- 24" x 18" x 2" Boos end-grain cutting board and care materials
- 240mm Kochi Gyuto to replace my 8" Henckels chef knife and care materials
- Vitamix Blender
- Baratza Virtuoso+ Burr Grinder
- Kitchen Scale
- Gooseneck Kettle
I have identified that I should have at least one fry pan, one saucier or saucepan (possibly two, one between 1-2 qt and one between 3-4 qt), one large stockpot and dutch oven (ECI or stainless, round/oval) and/or casserole, and/or braiser and/or rondeau, at least one with a steamer insert for pasta/vegetables, two half sheet pans with cooling racks and possible a roasting pan (I query whether a roasting pan is essential, as I can roast items on the rack inside the sheet pan and roast whole birds on the oven grate itself, and place root veg underneath to cook in the fat), mixing bowls, prep bowls and plastic food storage containers.
I previously purchased a 12.6" Demeyere Proline but returned it. It was far too large for me and could feed a village. Was heavy as hell too. I like to have more control over my pans. I placed an order for the 9.4" Proline, which may or may not be too small for my purposes. I have identified the Falk Couer 11" fry pan as my potential one pan (with/without lid?) if the 9.4" Proline is too small and if I can't find a Dellerin 11" sautee pan. Alternatively I could hold off on purchasing most pans until I move to gas, as a Falk, Mauviel or Matfer in copper appears to be the gold standard.
I also have a 3.5 qt Proline Saucier on the way, but I think a smaller saucier will be best for me. The rivetless design, silvinox treatment and dishwasher compatibility is attractive. Sur La Table's silver 7 2qt is on sale and I'm considering getting it if I like the proline, but again I wonder whether I should just wait and go for all copper (either all from falk/mauviel/matfer or piece by piece) even though the performance appears to be similar.
For a dutch oven type dish I've gone back and forth between getting a Le Creuset ECI set, including a dutch oven, braiser (I think I would use this frequently, thus my mention of rondeau/casserole dish a number of times), baking/roasting dish (or at least a dutch oven, go back and forth between oval and round and 5.5 qt and 7 qt, even though I've never used either) vs a Bourgeat braiser/rondeau, a Mauviel m'cook or copper 5-6.5 qt rondeau, or a Fissler round roaster/casserole (understanding there are differences), even though ECI does not perform as well as any of the aforementioned.
For kitchen utensils I've identified a cleaver/paring knife/boning knife/utility knife (if utility, may splurge for nicer utility/petty to take the place of a paring knife and boning knife), large cutting board for raw meats, peeler, microplane, french whisk, flexible spatula for fish/eggs, etc., citrus juicer (not a fan of getting citrus juice all over), slotted spoon, rounded spoon, chinois, kitchen tongs and towels as "must-haves".
Others utensils/items have thought of purchasing include a wok, pressure cooker, various whisks (balloon, flat, twirl, etc.), a bench scraper, sizzle plate, spoon rests, salt pig, silicone ice cube tray, various molds for plating, offset spatulas and small bottles for plating, mason jars for pickling and storing, garlic press, food mill, spice grinder, mortar and pestle (if so, not sure if 2-3 cup capacity or 5-6 cup capacity), silpat, food processor (3 vs. 8 vs. 11 cup capacity), immersion blender (prefer cordless like a waring/all clad or a multi-use
like Bamix), sous vide (anova vs. joule, something I would almost certainly enjoy using), meat grinder (as a non-baker I probably wouldn't get a Kitchenaid, which takes up an absurd amount of space but have a multifunctional tool with attachments like a grinder, pasta extruder, juicer, etc. is attractive), InstantPot/Ninja Foodi, hand mixer (in lieu of a Kitchenaid), and even a vintage duck press, to name a few.
When I purchase something, whether it is a nice pair of shoes, clothing or a car, I purchase to use, to enjoy. Like many in this community, I enjoy shopping, collecting and enjoying various items in various domains, and I wan't to avoid accumulating a ton of cookware when I'll primarily reach for a few items. I also recognize that folks often get the best deals buying a cookware set in bulk rather than piecemeal, which is a double edged sword. Just very confused and overwhelmed and would appreciated the group's clarity and editing of my thought process.
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