Bigger is Better: The 14-inch Pan

Those who cook in small kitchens - or who are simply strapped for storage - might look at the 14-inch skillet or sauté pan as excessive, a bit like driving a minivan when a hatchback will do just fine. But we've found it to be the size we reach for most often when cooking meat or vegetables.

For starters, we like the fact that we can easily cook four chicken breasts without having to brown them in batches (or watch one curiously curl up the side of the pan for lack of room). And more surface area ensures you get a good, even sear on the meat. We can sauté vegetables in one layer, meaning they don't lie on top of each other and need constant tossing to get to the heat.

We recently had the chance to talk to Melissa Clark of the NY Times Dining section, who seconded our extra-large obsession. She said, "You need a giant skillet. You'll get a good sear on your food, and if you don't have enough room when you are sautéing, food steams instead." Plus, sauces reduce faster in a big pan.

As for storing a 14-inch skillet, you can stack other pans on top of it or hang it in a place of pride. We love our stainless steel saute pan from All-Clad, but there are plenty of options.

Here are a few:

• Sur La Table's Tri-Ply Stainless Steel Skillets
Emerilware 14-inch Fry Pan (which is made by All-Clad)
Paderno Stainless Steel 14-inch Fry Pan

So, tell us: Do you drive a big pan in the kitchen? Or do you think less is more?

(Photo courtesy of Amazon.com)

This is by Elizabeth, who is up for one of our new writer positions. Welcome Elizabeth!

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Faith is the executive editor of The Kitchn and the author of three cookbooks. They include Bakeless Sweets (Spring 2013) as well as The Kitchn's first cookbook, which will be published in Fall 2014. She lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband Mike.