Hello, and welcome to In the Kitchen With Tony. Today we are going to discuss the perfect pan; What is it? Who makes the best one? And why?
Let us come right out and say that obviously, one will need more than a single pan for use in the kitchen, but I am going to contend that every kitchen needs this workhorse, I can barely get through a single day in the kitchen without using mine. Just how much work can we get out of a single pan you might ask? Plenty.
Since it is nonsense to advocate for a pan if it can only do multiple things with mediocrity, I can assure you that not only have I used this pan in all these different ways, but it performs incredibly well on all fronts. It can fry, saute’, reduce, roast, braise and sear; it can be used to make rouxs, sauces, rissotos (and various rice dishes), greens and jambalaya; and of course all the many dishes that these uses entail.
The magic pan is the All-Clad, MC2, 4qt saute pan. I imagine that either the 3qt or the 6qt would put limits on its multi-tasking abilities, though for larger occasions sometimes I do wish I had the 6qt as a backup, but the 4qt ends up being neither too small nor too large.
Why All-clad and why specifically the MC2? Well All-clad because in my years as a professional cook I’ve yet to run across a more trustworthy company, whose products are always top notch. Why the MC2? There are several reasons why:
Price – As fas as I’m aware, the MC2 line is the most affordable of their many series
Material/Control – The ability to change the temperature of the pan at a fair speed needs to be balanced with the ability of the cookware to hold at least enough heat that you aren’t babysitting the pan all the time. Copper cookware is easily the most responsive, especially when lined with Tin, but it’s also the most expensive. Also, tin linings are very tempermental and need a lot of attention and maintenance. Stainless steel, while the least responsive of the common metals, makes the most durable and consistant cooking surface. Aluminum on the other hand, conducts heat quite well compared to stainless and the MC2 not only has a pure aluminum middle layer, but the external layer is a matte brushed aluminum, which is superior to a polished or anodized aluminum for heat conduction. This brushed exterior also collects a very nice patina: DON’T WASH THE PATINA! You want the inside clean and shiny to avoid sticking, but you want that outside coated in ‘gunk.’
With these three layers, the pan responds quickly to temperature adjustments and is able to maintain a consistently distributed heat.
Distribution of heat is also important. You don’t actually want those pans with thick bottoms but thin sides because it causes very uneven cooking (and the responsiveness issue comes in again). These three layers are even from the bottom and up the slightly rounded sides; a big plus.
The pan I got came with a lid and the lid is a must for many different cooking applications from steaming to braising. I do wish it was a bit more domed and that the inside of the lid had little knobs to drip the liquid back onto what I’m cooking, but the standard lid is just fine.
There you have it folks, the perfect pan of greatness.