What should I cook in my giant new pan?
April 15, 2021 11:08 AM   Subscribe

I recently cashed in my Amazon points on this ridiculously oversized pan. So... what should I cook?

5 qt stainless sauté pan, with lid, oven-safe (although I think the lid itself is only safe to 400-450ºF?) It is indeed almost comically large (it's wider than my child is!) and claims to be dishwasher safe, but it's too big to put in the dishwasher, so who knows!

So far I have used it to cook the two things that I felt would work best in a giant pan - jambalaya and a really great vegan paella. I love this ridiculous pan but am running out of inspiration. What else should I cook?

Food restrictions: None whatsoever, but it wouldn't hurt any of us to eat a bit healthier. Difficulty level: 12 year old son (liked the jambalaya, turned his nose up at the veggie paella, but will jump all over any kind of pasta dish). Oven is electric, not gas as I would prefer, if it makes a difference in a recipe. Family of 3, leftovers are a plus. We're in Minnesota, if geographic location/season affects availability of ingredients. I truly enjoy cooking and am not afraid of recipes that include a lot of prep time, but also appreciate things that can reasonably be done on a weeknight.
posted by caution live frogs to Food & Drink (29 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Risotto would be another strong contender.
posted by mmascolino at 11:14 AM on April 15, 2021 [2 favorites]

looks MADE for shephards pie!
posted by bbqturtle at 11:15 AM on April 15, 2021 [3 favorites]

Big-ass helping of vegetable fried rice.
posted by saladin at 11:29 AM on April 15, 2021 [3 favorites]

That looks well-suited to braised chicken thighs, particularly cabbage & bacon braised.
posted by CrystalDave at 11:30 AM on April 15, 2021 [4 favorites]

i love a massive sauté pan. good score! how about paella? steamed mussels? huevos rancheros, eggs easy directly on top of the chili/beans/veggies/whatever? veggie tofu sauté? quinoa + whatever?
posted by j_curiouser at 11:30 AM on April 15, 2021

My first thought was fried chicken for a crowd. Or, fried chicken for dinner tonight, and for cold chicken out on a picnic some warm evening.

Which suggests big batches for more than one meal. A good choice might be chili. Or Bolognese sauce. Or a soup that cooks with a huge ham bone in it.
posted by SemiSalt at 11:31 AM on April 15, 2021 [1 favorite]

I've had that one for years and love it. I use it for paella, braising things, egg scrambles, etc.
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 11:32 AM on April 15, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I feel like you could do several whole roasted fish in that thing pretty easily. This is a pretty good guideline. I like to do trout on a bed of thinly sliced fennel onions and lemons that I’ve already roasted for a bit before sticking the fish on top and cooking it through. You could do like, a whole huge side of salmon, too.

With some creative placement you could fill that thing edge to edge with enchiladas, especially if you did it the old fashioned way and just layered the tortillas instead of rolling them up.
posted by Mizu at 11:33 AM on April 15, 2021

Paella - Wikipedia says Paella means "frying pan" in Valencian, fried rice is easy, delicious and in a big pan you can make lots and add lots of veg., stirfry - stirfry is really a technique of using a big hot pan and adding cut up veg. and meat in the order of how much cooking time they need. I like chicken, yellow summer squash, onion, cabbage, scallions, and I make an easy sauce of soy sauce, ginger, garlic, corn starch, a bit of brown sugar, splash of vinegar, to add at the end; it will thicken fast and make that nice glaze. Add a little bit of toasted sesame oil when you serve it.

Also, it's nice to have a big pan to make a lot of bacon, but then you have a big, greasy pan to clean. Use care lifting it; I have a giant cast iron pan that is a workout and aggravates my elbow if I'm not careful. I just partly cleaned it by adding the pasta to the pan in which I'd cooked mushroom and artichoke hearts, deglazing the tasty bits, and the pan will be much easier to clean.
posted by theora55 at 11:36 AM on April 15, 2021

Best answer: Chicken, mushrooms, shallots, garlic, thyme. Brown the chicken, remove. Add shallots and mushrooms and cook until softened. Add garlic. Add chicken stock with herbs and scrape the good stuff off the bottom of the pan. Simmer/braise chicken for a few minutes, until done. Finish the sauce with a bit of cream. Serve on rice.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 11:37 AM on April 15, 2021 [3 favorites]

Best answer: And you can make big curries with ease. Saute lots of onions, then bone-in chicken thighs, then add canned crushed tomatoes (or chicken stock, coconut milk, you get the idea) simmer, add more good curry powder than you think. Simmer some more. Add some nice yogurt before serving. Better and more detailed recipes for curries abound. Many people like to toast the curry spices in a hot pan sometimes with oil; seems like a good idea.
posted by theora55 at 11:44 AM on April 15, 2021

Best answer: We owned that exact pan (I think) when I was growing up, and its name was indeed "the paella pan," and that was indeed its purpose in life. So you might have found its best use already.

The other thing we liked it for, though, was starting a braise on the stove and then finishing it in the oven. While the oven is preheating, sear the meat on the stove, add the liquid, and let it come up to a boil. Then, put on the lid, put it in the oven, and let it stew until it's tender. Doing the slow part of the recipe in the oven makes it lower-maintenance — the heat is coming from every which way, so it's less likely to burn if you forget to stir it.

You could do the braised chicken recipes you've already gotten this way, or beef or lamb stew, or a pot roast, or etc. Since you mentioned pasta, one of my particular favorite sauces is beef short ribs, onions, garlic, red wine, and good canned tomatoes, and then shred the meat up when it's cooked.
posted by nebulawindphone at 11:58 AM on April 15, 2021

Best answer: That's the perfect pan for this *incredibly* delicious chicken and rice recipe by Sohla El-Waylly. Printed directions or there's a great video you can watch.
posted by BlahLaLa at 12:17 PM on April 15, 2021 [2 favorites]

Pans like this are so versatile. I make curries, stews and tomato sauces in them, because everything simmers so fast. You do your saute-ing and simmering all in the same pan.
posted by jb at 12:59 PM on April 15, 2021

Best answer: A big shakshuka/huevos rancheros.
posted by penguin pie at 1:12 PM on April 15, 2021

You use it for anything that your previous larger pan when stirred made a mess all over the stovetop / flicked bits everywhere. Unwieldy to hand clean, but keeps your stovetop much cleaner.

Full it's definitely heavy, so you will need two pot holders instead of one, which may make getting into and out of the oven tricky when one handle is way in the back. The large handle you need to be careful with on the stovetop, since it will get in the way.
posted by TheAdamist at 1:14 PM on April 15, 2021

Best answer: This Chorizo pasta recipe is extra good in a big pan if you take some time between adding the chorizo and the tomatoes to let the chorizo get really nicely browned. I also use sour cream instead of cream, and that makes it amaaaaazing.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 1:17 PM on April 15, 2021

Best answer: Look at all these folks suggesting entrees. I'm going to suggest something dessert-ish instead: a humongous clafouti.
posted by jquinby at 1:37 PM on April 15, 2021 [1 favorite]

This here is a fried chicken pan.
posted by rossination at 1:52 PM on April 15, 2021 [1 favorite]

Pans this size are great for for sautéing, since it's easier to avoid crowding the food and get good browning. I use mine all the time for things like stir fries, sautéed vegetables, browning meat for stews, etc. It's bigger than my burners but conducts heat well enough to work.

I would say it's not so much a ridiculously oversized pan as a very handy sized pan. It's very much one of my everyday pans, not one that I only bust out for special recipes.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 2:32 PM on April 15, 2021 [1 favorite]

We have that pan and it's probably the pan we use most - lots of one-pan dishes, like dirty rice and fajitas, stir-fries when we don't want to drag out the wok, fried cutlets (especially ones you finidh with sauces, like chicken marsala)...
posted by Mchelly at 2:35 PM on April 15, 2021 [1 favorite]

That's the size of pan that is an absolute staple in my household. We've always called it a chicken fryer, though I don't even eat fried chicken - and my own mother never used it for that, either. that I can remember.

Things we consistently use it for: rice, chicken (boneless) & rice, pork chops & rice, giant omelettes, hash browns, scrambled eggs, pancakes, grilled cheese sandwiches, goulash, etc.
posted by stormyteal at 2:40 PM on April 15, 2021

We use a pan almost that big to brown ground beef and onions, then make whatever recipe you were going to make with it: sloppy joes, chili, meat sauce for spaghetti, etc. The large size of the pan means you can cook 3 lbs or more of ground beef and have some for leftovers or freeze for another dinner later.
posted by CathyG at 2:44 PM on April 15, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: The things I love to cook in my exact same pan are things that need to be sauteed as a preliminary to continued cooking, or sauteed alone, such as chicken scallopini. You can get through a lot of scallopini with such a large sautee surface.

My favorite is Country Captain, a delicious regional dish from the Carolinas. It's chicken pieces (with the skin) sauteed to a crispy crust and then topped with a tomato sauce (not an Italian Sauce, more a crushed tomato sauce) with curry spices. The mixture in it's wonderful pan goes into the oven for the majority of its cooking before raisins or currents are added toward the end. Curry-type condiments can be added when serving, like peanuts, onions, etc. It's generally served over rice, a Carolina staple.

There are many variations of this recipe, as regional recipes are organically embellished as they spread in communities. I believe I started with Craig Claiborne's New York Times cookbook several decades ago but my version has changed over the years to include more curry powder. I don't know the dish's history, but I can imagine ship captains bringing back a taste for the cooking of India, and their wives adapting it to what they had available. The smell while it's cooking will entrance you! Country Captain keeps incredibly well, is wonderful for feeding groups, and is an old favorite of my family. This pan, with its large width allows me to saute multiple chicken parts simultaneously.
posted by citygirl at 3:38 PM on April 15, 2021 [1 favorite]

Perfect for tartiflette, I reckon.
posted by tinkletown at 4:12 PM on April 15, 2021

Best answer: I'm on my second pan of that shape and size. It's well used and battered through about 25 years. I remember buying it, because it was my first piece of fancy French cookware, from Mauviel. Its more elegant predecessor from a local brand had begun to leak after 10-12 years of use, so I figured I needed a sturdy pan.
Before I got my wok, I used it almost every day, for many of the recipes mentioned above. It's still in heavy rotation, specially for risotto, bolognese sauce (actually more often a vegan adaption of bolognese where I substitute eggplant for the meat), shakshuka and the recipes below.

Recipes not mentioned above:
MME MAIGRET’S COQ AU VIN This is still a family favorite. Sloe brandy is hard to find, and can either be omitted or replaced with slivovitz. Sloe and plums are the same family.

I invented a dish for the pan, for fast weekday dinner: put two bags of pre-washed spinach leaves in the pan, with a little cream or a good dollop of cream cheese and a splash of water (there is a lot of water in the spinach, it's just to prevent it from burning in the first minutes). When it is beginning to wilt, adjust the amount of cream/cheese and season lightly with salt, pepper, nutmeg and lemon. Place fish and/or seafood on top, season them lightly with salt and pepper, put on the lid, and steam til the fish is done. At the time of invention, there were cans with pike quenelles, which were very good supplemented with frozen shrimp. They only needed five minutes of steaming or less so it was a very easy, fast dinner. Now time depends on which fish/shellfish I can find. It's good with scallops, or filets of plaice, rolled up. Both take a bit more than five minutes. Actually, I think this will be dinner tonight. Serve with a crusty baguette or rice. If you use frozen fish, thaw them during the day in the fridge.

Fegato alla Veneziana (Calf’s Liver and Onions)

Ratatouille (actually, I think I bought the first pan because I love ratatouille)


It is a really good pan for osso buco because it is so wide that you can brown all your three pieces at once on the stovetop and then it can go safely into the oven. The linked recipe calls for a dutch oven, and you may have to keep an eye on the heat and adjust. I don't need to, but my pan is a bit heavier than yours, I think.
posted by mumimor at 1:35 AM on April 16, 2021

Chicken (a whole chicken, cut up) Fricassee with Dill Dumplings.
posted by Short Attention Sp at 5:00 AM on April 16, 2021 [1 favorite]

Saute a couple cauliflowers at high temperature and get it all burnedy. Add garbanzos, peas, and paneer. Pour in some jars of premade Indian sauce. Now go back in time and start some basmati rice first. Yum!
posted by hypnogogue at 1:29 PM on April 16, 2021

Response by poster: Thanks all! Lots to try and hard not to mark EVERYTHING as a best answer!
posted by caution live frogs at 8:47 AM on April 22, 2021

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