Friday, August 19, 2011

Saucepans, Skillets, and Stockpots: What's the Difference?

Although this happened a few weeks ago, I haven't had a chance to use my kitchen's newest additions in a post until today.

These bad boys now reside in my cupboards (but more importantly, in my heart):

I got this Cuisinart MultiClad Pro Stainless Steel 12-pc. Cookware Set for a great price on Amazon.com and am now embarking on the quest of learning what each one is for and how their purposes differ beyond using the short ones for cooking eggs and the tall ones for boiling water. So far, here's what I've learned.
  • Saucepans (1 & 2): a small, deep cooking pan with a handle;* generally used to heat liquid-based foods (for example, soup) or to reduce sauces
  • Skillets (3 & 4): frying pan;* used for pan-frying (cooking large food items quickly on both sides) and searing (browning just the surface of food items), generally with a coating of oil or fat
  • Sauté Pans (5): a skillet with higher sides used specifically to sauté food that has been cut into small pieces (to sauté is to cook in a small amount of oil or fat over high temperatures)
  • Stock Pots (6): a pot in which soup stock is prepared;* usually very big, it is used for anything that requires a lot of room: making stock, making large amounts of pasta or sauce, etc.
  • Steamer Inserts (7): used in combination with a saucepan, a steamer insert allows you to steam food items instead of cooking them in other ways
So there you have it! A brief definition of a few different pots and pans and what they're used for. Do you know of other types of pots and pans and how to use them? Please share!

*All definitions are from the Merriam-Webster dictionary.

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