I got a lot of pots and pans. They have different shapes, sizes and materials. Aluminium, iron, steel, copper, shard, glass, ceramic, non-stick, round, oval, high, low, large, large, small, tiny, beautiful and ugly. Accumulated (better to say: stacked) over the years, and the collection is not yet finished. Best survival cookware also need to contain one of that.
But if they asked me which ones to take to the infamous desert island (as long as there’s a stove, availability of raw materials and someone to cook for), that’s what I couldn’t do without.
High pot and low pot
Respectively, about 5 and 2.5 liters of capacity. Thick bottom. With lid. Indispensable for pasta, long or short, but also for vegetables, legumes, broth, soups and, at the limit (I stress, thick bottom!) for stews and stews. On the desert island I could even make mussels peppered. Mine are made of steel and quite heavy.
I could also take them in aluminium, better conductor and definitely lighter, but avoiding to drop them (they get dented looking at them) and to leave food inside them, which would stain them. For ladies pots, choose anodized aluminum, resistant to blows, acid attack and signs of aging.
Small size, about 1.5 litres capacity, and high edges. It’s my favourite for gravy and meat sauce but on the desert island, in the absence of the copper pan, it’s also good for a risotto for two. Dedicated to rather long cooking, you have to choose good quality, thick, non-stick or cast iron, to spread and preserve the heat well.
I prefer it to a handle, more practical when you have to pour the contents, but of course it is also good for two people. Don’t forget the lid.
Medium size, around 26 cm in diameter, better if with the lid (yes, I’m fixed with lids!): how can you stand without a low pan? You brown it, fry the schnitzel, make a fresh tomato sauce, grilled fish, clam sauté, omelette and scrambled eggs. If I had an oven on the desert island, I could even cook tarte tatin in it, after browning the fruit on the stove with butter and sugar.
The best material would be iron, the most practical a good non-stick. Because iron, as well as cast iron, rust easily, unless you wash the pan just after use, dry it immediately and perfectly, then grease it with a veil of oil.
Don’t think it’s just for Asian recipes. For one thing, it’s perfect for stirring pasta into its seasoning. After all, in the East you can prepare noodles and rice and in the wok you can sauté all kinds of ingredients: vegetables, fish, chopped meat, morsels, meatballs. You can use it to fry it saving on oil, but also to prepare caponate and ratatouille, browning the vegetables separately and gathering them in the wok only at the end. In addition, it is unsurpassed in shellfish sautés, a must on the desert island.
I suggest to choose it wide, 28-30 cm in diameter, non-stick or in heavy iron, for a good heat distribution, discarding steel, aluminium and thin materials: in the wok the cooking takes place at very lively temperatures and it is a moment to burn the food. For the same reason, never stop moving the container for the handle and stirring the contents.
Give me this battery, a couple of ladles and pallets, the right ingredients and I will prepare almost everything.
And which pans, on the desert island or in your kitchen, could you never do without?