IF YOU HAD TO HAVE JUST THREE POTS OR PANS
It’s a question I’ve often asked myself: how did we get by without pots and pans before someone had the bright idea to create a vessel you could put on a fire to cook up a stew? Well, it appeased me to find out that the idea is more than ancient. The first pot was invented in East Asia 16,000 years ago, and then again (without knowledge of the first) in North Africa. Since then, pots and pans have become so fancy, but their basic functionality has stayed the same. In the end – no matter what they’re called – their size and shape opens them up to a wide array of uses. And in my opinion, if you had to choose just three, these are the most versatile.
A FRYING PAN
If you’re just starting to make a home and had to choose just one pan, I can’t think of anyone who would disagree that a frying pan would win every time. Opt for a medium-sized one (an omelette or a crêpe can only stretch so far), and if possible, get one that won’t complain about a bit of oven time (so no plastic handle). Also, a thicker base means you get more even heat distribution. Suddenly, you’re making tarte tatin (sweet or savoury), Spanish omelettes and all kinds of Instagrammable one-pot-wonders. Look at you!
A CASSEROLE DISH
Whether you call it a stock pot or a casserole dish, this one ranks right up there with a classic frying pan. Of course, when cooking a soup or a stock, there’s nothing better than a deep, lidded pot with a thick base. But beyond that, a good oven-proof casserole is great for making braises, and short of investing in a dedicated slow-cooker, there really is no better option for slow cooking an oxtail, beef ragout or a delicious goat rump curry.
Not to kill a cliché, but a wok really makes the best stir-fries. But don’t get too pedantic about its intended purpose. Woks are workhorses, and their deep, wide bowls open them up to all kinds jobs you might never have considered before. For instance, after cooking a potful of penne, use your wok to bring all your ingredients for the dish together and give it a good toss (a talent for which the wok is well renowned). And here’s something not everybody knows… woks are great for deep frying things – even better than most dedicated deep friers, because you get better heat distribution. Oh, and have you ever tried poaching an egg in a wok? Game changer!