kitchen essentials | big pans

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Pots, pots, pots. If you wanted to, you could easily spend a couple of hundred quid on a full range of sizes - from tiny things for boiling an egg to monster-cauldrons capable of cooking pasta for the string section of the Berlin Philharmonic. And if you cook a lot, there's a lot to be said for having them all.

Pots, pots, pots. If you wanted to, you could easily spend a couple of hundred quid on a full range of sizes - from tiny things for boiling an egg to monster-cauldrons capable of cooking pasta for the string section of the Berlin Philharmonic. And if you cook a lot, there's a lot to be said for having them all.

Even if you're not much of a chef, but sometimes cook for more than just you and the cat, there is one saucepan you must have. It has a capacity of around 6.8 litres and a diameter of around 24cm. It has a long handle and a smaller lug, which allows for two-handed lifting - these things get heavy when they're full. It is made of stout stainless steel, though the handles may be in a heat-resistant plastic.

A pot of this size can be regarded as either a saucepan or a stockpot, and as a big pot or small, depending on what you're using it for. If you're cooking sauce, it's large; for pasta or stock, it's small; for boiled veg, it's sort of medium. That's what makes it so flexible: it's suitable for either solo cooking or crowd-control.

What to buy? Easy. There are so many good makes of stainless-steel cookware that you're spoiled for choice. This one is from the outstanding Stellar line. Expect to pay about £50-£55. Other good choices include Meyer, Fissler and Lagostina. Where to buy? That's easy, too: any good cookshop, where you can see if the handles suit you. This is one item you want to try before you buy.

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