My roommate is the son of restaurateurs, which means my kitchen is flush with gear (and a ton of great leftovers). There’s a pasta-maker, an Aeropress, a nice dutch oven, and a nicer cast-iron skillet. And all that is great to have, if for no other reason than to look like I know how to use that stuff when a date comes over. But the one tool I actually use in the whole kitchen is something I picked up for $35: A 10-inch nonstick fry pan.
Listen, I make a sunnuvabitch of an egg. I do hangover-cure fried-egg sandwiches, feed-an-army omelettes, a poach if I’m feeling rowdy, and custard-y, fluffy scrambled eggs that rival the brunch spot down the street (and you can tell 'em I said that). But to run the best meal of the day, I need a pan — and a good, heat-resistant rubber spatula — that can keep up.
The pan I bought isn’t anything fancy. It's from a brand I hadn't used before, but had the thing I needed: a Zamboni-slick nonstick coating. I make eggs low and slow — low heat and constant, slow stirring until the eggs firm up. On another pan, that’d mean a yolky skin I’d have to scrape off. But my eggs move around the pan like little breakfast bobsleds, smoothly and sans debris. Cleanup afterward is more a formality than a necessity.
I’m sure there are higher-quality pans out there, but here's the thing: Nonstick surfaces wear down easily, and that's heartbreaking if you threw $100 at a nice, clout-carrying brand. I've only had my pan for a few months. We're still in the honeymoon period. But knowing that I'll have to replace it eventually will make getting rid of it later less painful. That's the beauty of buying low and living for your time together.
I have no idea how long I'll be with my pan, and that's ok. For the money, I can’t think of anything in my kitchen that's made a bigger impact on my breakfast game. [$34.95; amazon.com]