A huge thank you to Our Place for sponsoring this post.
We decided to host both our parents for Thanksgiving this year. It wasn’t a decision we made lightly. In any other year, we’d ping pong from my mom’s house for lunch to my grandparents’ house for dinner to Chris’ family’s house for second dinner — maybe even to my other grandparents’ house the next day for a lunch of leftovers on the drive back home. (One year in college, we had five Thanksgiving meals over two days. And at every house: turkey, gravy, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans, salad. I mean…identical meals. It was almost comical.)
This year, of course, our usual tour de force felt downright irresponsible. So instead we invited both of our parents to convene at our place — safely. We all quarantined for 14 days beforehand, and then for the first time in nine months, we joined forces. It was an occasion. And to make it worth it, we stretched the holiday out into a three-day-long feast, kicking things off with one of my favorite dishes of all time: chiles en nogada.
As it happens, it was the ideal dish for the occasion (more on that later). And the ideal dish to try out our new Our Place Always Pan and dishware.
Our Place Always Pan Review:
Serious Bang For Your Buck
If you’ve been on social media at all in the past six months, chances are this pan looks pretty freaking familiar. It’s been following me around Instagram for ages, tempting me with its handmade terracotta appearance and it’s multi-function versatility. And the price tag is intriguing, too. The retail price is $145 — already a steal for well-engineered cookware. But for Black Friday, it’s discounted to $95 with code SUPERSALE. So! Here’s my candid take on what you’re getting from a pan that claims to deliver some serious bang for your buck.
Versatility // The Our Place marketing materials say that the Always Pan does all the work of eight kitchen tools: a skillet, a nonstick pan, a fry pan, a saucier, a saucepan, a colander, a steamer and a spatula rest. All true. (OK, the way the spatula rests on the handle is kinda brilliant and so slick.) But since I think most of us would likely count a skillet, a nonstick pan and a fry pan as one and the same — and maybe even a saucepan and a saucier — I’m going to say it’s more of a 5-in-1 situation. Still an all-around very useful piece of cookware. The steamer insert is rad for veggies or dumplings (!!) or boiling and straining pasta or lentils in one step. And the whole pan is lighter weight than it looks, too. Shockingly so, which is great because it’s also larger than I was expecting. Even when loaded to maximum capacity, I was still able to lift the pan with one hand and transfer the contents to a bowl with the other.
Appearance // Undoubtedly, this is A Very Good Looking Pan. Think the Pink Preset Instagram filter, come to life. It’s stunning enough to serve from, and it reads like a piece of collected stoneware when sitting on the stovetop. As someone who is pretty picky about the look of my cookware (particularly since my most-used pieces almost never leave the counter or stove), the Always Pan earns a 10/10 for design.
Performance // This is the first piece of nonstick cookware I’ve used in, ohhhhh, five years? We went all-in on cast iron round about the time Lana was born, so venturing back into the land of nonstick (something I’m comfortable with due to the fact that the Always Pan features a non-toxic ceramic nonstick surface) was kind of a big deal. And even though I take great pride in our now exceptionally well-seasoned collection of pans, cooking up eggs in the Always Pan this morning had me downright giddy. “Well hot dang, that’s handy!” I exclaimed to my mother-in-law as I slid a fried egg neatly out of the pan onto her waiting plate. (Because apparently in year six of parenthood you find yourself saying things like hot dang.)
Like most nonstick pans, it’s recommended that the Always Pan be used on low or medium heat — but that said, the filling for these chiles required browning several ingredients together, and the pan conducted heat well enough that it got the job done without ever having to crank the heat. I also love that the pan is deep enough to boil water. It’s not going to replace a full-blown stock pot, of course, but for boiling off half a pound of pasta, it’d be perfect. If I had to name a con? It’s not intended for use in the oven or dishwasher, which I understand is probably to protect the integrity of the nonstick coating, but those would be lovely features to nail.
Production Practices // Ok, so this is cool. Our Place is super transparent about where their pieces are produced, from the woman-run factory that makes the Always Pan — in, yes, China, but they put serious care into selecting the facility, with both production quality and workers’ treatment top of mind — to the drinking glass factory where the glassblowers form each glass by hand. The ceramics are cool, too — made with a blend of recycled and virgin porcelain clay and beautifully hand-painted. More about all of Our Place’s production practices here.
All in all — a very solid purchase, even at the full price.
Our Place Dishware + Drinking Glasses
But the total sleeper hit for me? The dishware. The plates are downright gorgeous, friends. Slim and modern, with a seriously handmade, artisanal feel. And I love that the surface of the plate is glazed while the slim band of color is matte. (Fully matte-finish dishes, while beautiful and lovely for photography, are so easily marked up by utensils, so this is really the best of both worlds.) And the glassware! The glasses pictured here are the Sunset color, and the amber hue added so much warmth to our holiday table. Both the dishware and the glassware are designed to stack smartly, as well. And if you’re interested in the whole kit n’ caboodle, right now you can buy the Dinner for 4 Bundle, which is the Always Pan bundled together with four plates, bowls and glasses in your choice of colors, for $220 (a $290 value).
I can see these quickly becoming our go-to dishware, so I’m going to snag four more of the plates, bowls and drinking glasses. Which are also available in clear glass, by the way, if you need something even more neutral.
What To Cook In The Always Pan
And as for those Chiles En Nogada (or Chiles In Walnut Sauce): They’re inspired by a traditional Mexican recipe that is a cornerstone of my favorite book, Like Water For Chocolate — and is one of the first meals I ever served when hosting both our parents for supper. (Mind you, this was back when we were still cutting our teeth at our first corporate jobs and hosting our parents, who had both flown across the country to spend the Christmas holiday with us, felt like A Very Big Deal.)
I cannot emphasize enough — this dish is fantastic. Roasted poblano (or pasilla) chiles stuffed with a sweet and savory spiced mixture of onions, garlic, chorizo, ground beef, dried and fresh fruit and nuts; blanketed in a silky sauce made of cream, queso fresco and walnuts; and garnished with pomegranate seeds. I was in high school the first time I read about these chiles in Like Water For Chocolate, and thanks to the intoxicating fusion of culinary tradition and magical realism, nothing had ever spoken to me more. I’ve taken some liberties in my adaptation of the recipe (whoa, early blogging days alert…), but it remains one of my favorite dishes to cook and eat when our families are together. And an especially lovely way to honor Chris’ Mexican heritage.
Shop the Always Pan & More from Our Place
As I write this, I am full to bursting. Full belly. Full heart. And all because of a full house. Hope you had an excellent holiday, friends!
Thank you to Our Place for sponsoring this post. I genuinely love the thoughtful design and production practices of these pieces so much. And the timing couldn’t have been more perfect — it was so fun to entertain our loved ones with the Always Pan and our beautiful new dishware and drinking glasses. (Also, our holiday table has never looked better.) And, of course, thanks to our readers for continuing to follow along in this space. We create this content with you in mind and are always so appreciative of your support.
Guys! Follow me on Instagram for more peeks into our life on the Northern California coast. And if you feel so inclined, pop over to my personal food + lifestyle blog, The Pig & Quill, where I share salty scribblings from my kitchen and home life. Byeeeeee!
Oh hey, Pinners…