To continue with the gadget from last week, I’m here today to talk about one of my favorite items in my kitchen. Another not-very-exciting choice but seriously useful addition to any novice cook is the oven proof pan. Somewhere between a skillet and a dutch oven, you have a sauteuse [or I guess I actually have it]. It’s a smaller, squat pan that is a bit more manageable to go from the stovetop to the oven.
My pan is almost identical, it does not have the extended handle. I wish it did! The pan I own along with this one is from the Cooks line at JC Penney. My original purchase was no more than $40 and I use it 2 or 3 times a week.
But why would you need one? Well, unless you’re feeding a large family, it’s the perfect size for sauces. An awesome soup-for-two size, great for a serving or two of pasta. And I can’t tell you how many small batches of jam, chutney or simple syrup I’ve made in mine. Not usually such a fan of nonstick, it’s perfect in this pan. Seriously, I have not once struggled to clean it. Even when I make a steak or burger in it, searing it on the stove and finishing in a hot oven, the meaty bits never give me clean-up trouble. Yup, indoor steak cooking is great for ovenproof pans.
Basically, think of this pan as a great first purchase. Want a cast-iron (or other heavy skillet)? Want a big Le Creuset dutch oven? Need something that can handle both set of tasks at once? This is for you. A lower cost investment while you tinker your way into the kitchen.
My favorite no recipe-recipe for this pan? It’s a braise, of course.
- Throw some thrifty stew beef in the pan on high and brown. [Or short ribs. Or oxtail. Or most any fatty cut of meat.]
- Add diced veggies of your choice. Onions and carrots are a must. Brown.
- A bottle of two buck chuck [or whatever red wine of your choosing], a few sprigs of herbs, salt and pepper.
- Bring to a boil and put in the oven. Let cook on low temp, maybe 300° until the meat falls apart.
- Strain liquid, throw liquid back into pan and put on stovetop. Boil, turn to low and reduce.
- Serve on top of carbohydrate of choice – mashed potatoes, rice, egg noodles, polenta.
And really, on this upcoming chilly weekend, what doesn’t sound better than warming up the apartment with a low-effort, slow cooked meal?