I saw two ways to approach this topic: there's the pan that I love (which would be my dutch oven), or there's the pan that I find myself reaching for when it comes to those quick, no-brainer, feed-me-I'm-hungry weeknight meals. And that would be this Calphalon nonstick sauté pan. Surprised? Me, too.
Size is the first thing in this pan's favor. It's eleven inches across and has a 4-quart capacity. That's wide enough to sear meat or caramelize onions, and also deep enough to make a thick pasta sauce or even a quick soup if I need to. It's the perfect size for a frittata and most other skillet casseroles.
This pan is also really easy to use. It has a regular long handle on one side and a smaller grab handle opposite, making it very easy to lift, carry, and pour. It's heavy, but not nearly as heavy as cast iron or my dutch oven and I can usually manage it with just one hand. And of course, it's non-stick. Food lifts off easily and it cleans up with just a few wipes of a soapy sponge.
This particular nonstick pan from Calphalon is also designed to give food a good sear and be able to go in the oven. I use it for both of these things on a regular basis and the pan has kept performing remarkably for the two years that I've owned it.
Is nonstick really my first choice? My initial response would be "Naw, gimme stainless steel!" But the evidence in my kitchen tells me otherwise. For everyday use and plain old weeknight dinners, this is the pan I use.
(Images: Emma Christensen and Williams-Sonoma)