There is a new pan out there designed for versatility. It is aptly called an evasée (from Fr. evaser to open out; to flare). It can be described as follows:
Évasée or chef’s pan—an arched long-handled hybrid sauté pan/sauce pan/skillet with a flat bottom less broad than a sauté pan, with deep, deep sides that flare out from the bottom more gradually than a skillet and then rise to vertical at the rim like a sauce pan. This pan is designed to sauté, stir and toss veggies and small cuts of meats and fish with larger quantities of liquids, without spilling. The rim is flared for non-drip pouring. It is the ideal pan to start and finish pilafs, to construct and reduce sauces and to prepare products that require stirring or whisking, such a risotto, crème anglaise and cream puff dough (pate au choix) for your profiteroles. It also serves nicely as a wok. Size is specified in quarts (1 to 5), which indicates that it is closer in concept to it’s sauté and sauce pan brethren than to the skillet or wok. It takes a lid.
Update: In the past two years since this article was posted, most of the major pot makers now offer a chef’s pan. So they are now available in price ranges from $40.00 and up, way up. The four pans shown are made in France by Bourgeat. There are none better.
To place the évasée in perspective with other pans in general use their descriptions follow: (The accompanying photo shows most of them and was taken in my kitchen on one of the rare days, always rainy, when I haul the copper to the garage, light a cigar, take out the Flitz metal polish and shine them up.)
Skillet, frypan, frying pan or sauteuse—all describing a long-handled, broad flat bottom pan with flared sides of shallow depth (1- to 2-inches), used for searing, frying and tossing meats, fish and veggies with little or no liquids. Size is specified in inches.
Sauté pan or sautoir—a long-handled, broad flat bottom pan with straight sides of deep depth (2+-inches), used to sauté or stir veggies and to cook medium cuts of meat or fish with liquid. It is also used for deep fat frying. Size is usually specified in inches. Large sauté pans usually have a loop handle on the opposite side of the long handle. Size is specified in inches and quarts. It takes a lid.
Saucepan—a narrow flat bottom pan with high, straight sides (nearly equal to or greater than the breadth of the bottom), used for boiling and simmering liquids. Small saucepans have a long handle. Large ones have a loop handle on each side. Size is specified in quarts. It takes a lid.
Stockpot or saucepot—a large, narrow flat bottom pot with high straight sides (greater than the breadth of the bottom), 8 quarts or larger, with loop handles, used for boiling and simmering large volumes of liquid and accompaniments. Size is specified in quarts. It takes a lid.
Wok—a round bottom, curved-side pan of deep depth with loop handles, used to toss and stir-fry meat, fish strips and veggies. Some woks now have a long handle. Size is specified in inches. Some take a lid.
Why bother? Well, if you have always wanted to toss and flambé your cognac-finished steak sauce in a skillet over a raging gas fire like the line cook in the LeRoy Neiman painting—without having to call 911—this is the safer pan. If you are outfitting the kid’s kitchen, substitute a large evasée for a saucepan and wok. If a two-pan galley is the limit on the yacht, select a skillet and an evasée. Or, if you must get by with only one good pan in the Winnebago, go evasée!
Here is the évasée inaugural recipe: