The Sauté Pan

This is just about the most useful piece of kit in my kitchen. It’s used for sauces, curries, soups, poaching eggs, steaming spinach, and sometimes, just for a change, I even sauté things in it.

Mine is 25cm in diameter, 6cm deep, with vertical sides, made of heavy stainless steel, with a copper bottom. It cost half a week’s wages at the time, but is fifteen years old and getting better with age.

There are plenty of places where you can compromise, but this is not one of them.

If you’re shopping, some of the things you should look for:

  1. Vertical Sides make all the difference when you’re vigorously stirring, frying, or shaking the pan, and you don’t want your dinner on the floor. I’m not sure I see the point in sloped sides.
  2. A matching tight fitting lid is essential.
  3. A non-stick lining will peel away in time, and turn into an ultra-stick lining. Best avoided.
  4. I’ve had mixed experiences with cast iron, and think stainless steel is the way forward. Perhaps if I used the pan every day I’d have a different opinion.
  5. That’s heavy stainless steel, and preferably a copper bottom. This is so the heat distributes evenly. It won’t come cheap, I’m afraid.
  6. A stout handle, preferably heat proof. The one flaw with mine is that it doesn’t have a heatproof handle, which is a shame as I can’t stick it under the grill or in the oven.
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