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View Full Version : Good Cooking Skillet?



Frank7580
12-14-2006, 09:38 AM
Howdy Folks,

For all of the other cooking aficionados out there what would you recommend for a good cooking skillet?

I've had some decent ones in the past but they're all a bit on the thin side and over time they tend to rock on my flat electric range.

What's a quality brand that cooks evenly and that enables you to make a good reduction sauce without burning?

As always, thanks for the suggestions? You folks are the best for such questions :biggrin:!

htownmmm
12-14-2006, 09:41 AM
A well seasoned cast iron of course.


Marty

James707
12-14-2006, 10:18 AM
For me two brands stood out, All Clad and Calphalon One. I ended up with the Infused Anodized line of Calphalon and love it. Just stay away from anything with teflon:scared:

moses
12-14-2006, 10:26 AM
Ditto on the teflon.

The steel ones (all-clad, if you like spending money, etc.) are all very well, but honestly, I find cast Iron a heck of a lot easier to use. And pretty competitive on price, especially if you know where to look.

Where to look = antique markets. Some brands are favored (Griswold) and command a premium, but frankly anything nice and solid should be equally good. Some mighty nasty ones can be cleaned up to be just great, but if you aren't inclined to do that, clean ones are not that hard to find. Just scrub them out really well. Make SURE you get rid of any accumulated burnt on grease. Wire brushes and steel wool are fair game. Then season. Plenty of instructions out there on that.

Some people get real fanatic about cleaning/maintenance. The only real rule is clean as soon as you can. After dinner is fine. And don't soak in soap. Doing that with force you to re-season. In fact, minimize soap. Some people don't agree, but the truth is, a quick scrub with mildly soapy warm water is fine. And makes keeping them nice and clean a lot easier. Then just rub on a couple of drops of olive oil before putting away.

-Mo

msandoval858
12-14-2006, 10:39 AM
All Clad makes some nice stuff and they consistantly perform very well, however the prices can be tough to swallow. I have some Calphalon pieces that work well too, however their non stick is very heat sensitive and you can ruin a pan pretty easily if you're not careful. I also have some of the stainless steel Salad Master pans, they conduct heat amazingly well but the prices are insane. Recieved as gifts, I would have never paid what they ask.

A well seasoned cast iron definately has a place in any kitchen. You can get them blazing hot and sear meats with no problem. Perfect for doing steaks, sear and transfer to the oven at 500 to finish. My cast iron is about the most versitile cookware I own.

Check out places like Tuesday Morning and close out stores (Marshall's, TJ Maxx), their kitchen section usually has some pretty nice pans at a good discount.

Dennis
12-14-2006, 10:45 AM
All Clad and Lodge Cast Iron. I definitely would not do without the Lodge pan in my kitchen - you can do damn near anything it. I have used All Clad for over 12 years now and it is quality, quality cookware that nearly always is named the best in Cooks Illustrated testings.

Dennis

msandoval858
12-14-2006, 10:52 AM
As far as cleaning cast iron. I usually use a small amount of dish soap to break up any food left in, then dump some Kosher salt into the pan and scrub it down with that. The salt is abrasive and will scrub the pan as well as absorb any grease left on the surface. Rinse thoroughly and put the pan back on the stove top at high heat. Heating it back up evaporates all the water back out of it and keeps it from building any rust from left over moisture. Let it cool and store away as usual.

ouch
12-14-2006, 11:21 AM
French black steel pans can't be beat for price and longevity.

http://www.bridgekitchenware.com/category.cfm?Category=15

If, you're considering cast iron (meaning you're willing to properly care for them) these are a better idea. Get to play Andre Soltner for a song!

Scotto
12-14-2006, 11:30 AM
For conventional pans (not non-stick), there is nothing like All-Clad, but they are dear. For nonstick pans you are better off going cheaper since they tend to wear out over time. Based on Cook's Illustrated suggestion, I recently picked up some Cuisinart Chef's Classic Hard Anodized nonstick pans (from Amazon.com), and have been very pleased with their performance and nonstick qualities.

ouch
12-14-2006, 11:37 AM
+1 on the All-Clad. I have some Ltd pots and a nice saute pan, and their stuff is top notch.

Still, nine times out of ten, when I need a skillet/fry pan, I reach for the trusty old aluminum Wearevers. Can't kill 'em, and you'll find them in just about every kitchen on Earth.

letterk
12-14-2006, 11:39 AM
Another brand which seems to be along the same lines as All Clad is Analon (at least in price). We've had a set of these for quite a while and they perform nicely. I've been enjoying the Calphalon Commercial Hard Anodized pans that go on sale frequently on amazon.

moses
12-14-2006, 11:46 AM
Still, nine times out of ten, when I need a skillet/fry pan, I reach for the trusty old aluminum Wearevers. Can't kill 'em, and you'll find them in just about every kitchen on Earth.

I assume these are not non-stick? (If they were, you could kill them, after all).

-Mo

ravkesef
12-14-2006, 12:07 PM
I cook as a hobby, teach cooking, etc., and can only reiterate what has been said here: nothing cooks like cast iron, the original non-stick. And now you don't even have to season it yourself--Lodge makes pre-seasoned cast iron cookware. It's cheap, and it's the best. (here's the sad part--the heavier the pan, the better it is. My wife can't lift cast iron.)
some caveats with cast iron: don't cook with tomatoes, wine, or other acidic foods as the acid will destroy the seasoning and impart a metallic taste to the food. If this happens, just reseason the pan. In fact, if the pan should ever rust, become somehow "unusable," etc., just reseason it. How do you reseason it: some olive oil, duck fat, crisco rubbed all over, invert in the oven and bake at 350 for one hour, and the pan will be good as new. By the way--I never use soap in my cast iron pan--just wipe them out with a paper towel, rub lightly with olive oil, and put away for next time. Sometimes I use water, and sometimes some kosher salt if it needs scrubbing, but that's really very seldom. as I said, this stuff is the original non-stick. You can also use a dobie pad or a 3M scrubbing pad--just don't use soap, and always coat with olive oil when done cleaning.
Now--to get the benefits of cast iron without the mess, go for Le Creuset. It's cast iron with an enamel coating. You can even put it in the dishwasher. We love ours. Problem: whereas Lodge is really inexpensive, Le Creuset is really expensive. If you're not willing to pay $200 and up for a good dutch oven, for example, the latest issue of Cooks Illustrated says that Target's house brand tests equally good and runs about $40. That's quite a price difference.
To make a good fond for later deglazing, use all clad stainless. You'll get a perfect sear, and you don't have to be afraid to deglaze with wine afterwards. Again, a bit pricey, but you'll have it for a lifetime, and if you try a cheap imitation, you'll be unhappy anyway because it won't work.
Now--everybody should have some nonstick pans--great for omelettes, eggs, etc., and again all clad makes excellent non-stick, and the new Calphalon One will actually take metal utensils and develops a great fond. Our favorite, however, in the non-stick category is Berndes. Heavy weight with a very solid and effective non-stick coating.
hope this helps,

Frank7580
12-14-2006, 12:10 PM
I also have some of the stainless steel Salad Master pans, they conduct heat amazingly well but the prices are insane. Recieved as gifts, I would have never paid what they ask.

You're correct about the performance of these pans. My wife and I inherited two pots and they are amazing. However, the current prices of Salad Master's new cookware put them out of our reach :frown:.

I also heard good things about All Clad and Calphalon. I'll check these out after Christmas.

Regarding the cast iron, I've never doubted its quality but I'm unsure if all those in my household would take the necessary steps to care for it :wink:.

ouch
12-14-2006, 12:12 PM
Le Creuset is great for dutch ovens, but I'll pass on their skillets.

MacArthur Mike
12-14-2006, 12:58 PM
As far as cleaning cast iron. I usually use a small amount of dish soap to break up any food left in, then dump some Kosher salt into the pan and scrub it down with that. The salt is abrasive and will scrub the pan as well as absorb any grease left on the surface. Rinse thoroughly and put the pan back on the stove top at high heat. Heating it back up evaporates all the water back out of it and keeps it from building any rust from left over moisture. Let it cool and store away as usual.

As someone who is in this field professionally, I wanted to pass along a few tips. I always hate to refute people on the boards so I apologize Mike but you should NOT use soap on a cast iron pan to clean it out EVER. Cast iron is very porous and the soap can seep into the pan so there is the chance of ruining the taste of your food. Scrubbing out like that will also ruin the season that you put on it as well.

In fact, I have had my cast iron pan for years and it has never even seen water. What you want to do is get a good season on it. And I know Lodge says their pans are pre-seasoned, but you should do it yourself anyway as it will make a difference. What you want to do is rub oil (I use olive, but any neutral oil will do, no nut oils) all over the outsides and handle of the pan. Then fill the pan about halfway with the oil and rub the oil into the other top half. Put it in the oven for one hour at 350 degrees. Let cool, dump the oil and dry it with a soft cloth. After a few uses, it will only take a soft cloth to clean it out while the pan is still kind of warm. For best results, after cleaning out, put some more oil on a towel and rub it into the interior of the pan. This should give you great results in using a cast iron pan for many years to come, and I swear by Lodge (great pans, great price and made in USA).

Now cast iron is good for cooking steaks and such, but if you are looking to make and reduce sauces I highly recommend picking up an All Clad saute pan. Nothing beats All Clad for this task. It is much easier to control the temp on the All Clads because they don't hold their heat as well as cast iron. I would say pick up a nice big cast iron skillet and then a few pieces of All Clad. Are they expensive yes? However, All Clads will be good for a lifetime and if anything ever goes wrong with the pan, All Clad replaces it no questions asked. How many lesser quality pans have you thrown away over the years and then replaced with similar lesser quality pans. Over time, you actually save money buying the All Clads because really it is a one time investment rather than dealing with the planned obsolescence of the other pans and having to replace every five years of so.

Le Creuset. Great for slow cooking, braising, soups, stews. However, for skillet cooking, frying, my advice would be to pass.

Hope that helps.

moses
12-14-2006, 01:06 PM
As someone who is in this field professionally, I wanted to pass along a few tips. I always hate to refute people on the boards so I apologize Mike but you should NOT use soap on a cast iron pan to clean it out EVER. Cast iron is very porous and the soap can seep into the pan so there is the chance of ruining the taste of your food. Scrubbing out like that will also ruin the season that you put on it as well.


I know people who have been doing this for years with no trouble. They use only a very little soap in hot water, but it works fine.

Oh, and btw., speaking of absorbing flavors, though, don't cook fish in your cast iron.... Unless it is a dedicated fish pan, of course.

-Mo

Shane
12-14-2006, 01:14 PM
If you have a flat electric range with a glass or ceramic top, use any cast iron vessel with an enameled cast iron trivet over the burner. Otherwise, you will scratch the surface of your rangetop.

Shane

MacArthur Mike
12-14-2006, 01:14 PM
I know people who have been doing this for years with no trouble. They use only a very little soap in hot water, but it works fine.

Oh, and btw., speaking of absorbing flavors, though, don't cook fish in your cast iron.... Unless it is a dedicated fish pan, of course.

-Mo

That is true Mo. There are also some people on here who boil their brushes to no harmful results even though most people around here recommend they don't. I think its more of a YMMV kind of thing and that it might or might not ruin the taste of food. With that being said, it is not recommended that you use soap when cleaning cast iron, and by no means am I proclaiming to be the expert I am just going based on what I have been taught and discussed with vendors of cast iron.

texasPI
12-14-2006, 01:20 PM
Mike, I agree with you on the no soap. My wife has taken the seasoning off my skillets a couple of times, even with a little soap. She also cracked my grandma's old cast iron griddle. I got it after she passed on because I had fond memories associated with it of her. My wife went to rinse it with hot water right after making something with it and CRACK! :angry: Needless to say but I was not very happy. That is why I keep her out of MY kitchen! :scared:

moses
12-14-2006, 01:27 PM
That is true Mo. There are also some people on here who boil their brushes to no harmful results even though most people around here recommend they don't. I think its more of a YMMV kind of thing and that it might or might not ruin the taste of food. With that being said, it is not recommended that you use soap when cleaning cast iron, and by no means am I proclaiming to be the expert I am just going based on what I have been taught and discussed with vendors of cast iron.

Yeah, I guess for someone who is just starting out with the cast iron, it is probably better not to. Just wipe, if possible, a little hot water or some salt if needed.

-Mo

msandoval858
12-14-2006, 01:44 PM
I do appreciate the input. I've been using the same routine on my cast iron for awhile now with no obvious ill effects. I will definately put these suggestions to use. :thumbsup:

zachster
12-14-2006, 10:53 PM
I assume these are not non-stick? (If they were, you could kill them, after all).

I have some commercial grade non-stick Wearever fry pans that I boght at a restaurant supply store over 10 years ago -- they are still going strong! On the other hand, a non-stick household Wearever set that was bought a few years later is on its last legs. Restaurant supply stores are a very good resource for quality cookware, but the products are not as easy on the eye as all-clad (my trusty Wearevers ain't pretty)...

zachster
12-14-2006, 11:09 PM
Now cast iron is good for cooking steaks and such, but if you are looking to make and reduce sauces I highly recommend picking up an All Clad saute pan. Nothing beats All Clad for this task. It is much easier to control the temp on the All Clads because they don't hold their heat as well as cast iron. I would say pick up a nice big cast iron skillet and then a few pieces of All Clad.

I would add that, conversely, all-clads are not very good for steaks -- at least not seared the way it would be done with a cast iron skillet. I'm in the habit of heating up my cast iron skillet quite high before adding a nice oiled steak. I tried that with an all-clad skillet and the damn thing warped. When I checked the warranty info on their site, it was clear that my methods void the warranty (leaving the skillet empty on high heat). I have learned my lesson -- I now fry steaks only in the cast iron (especially the little one with ridges)!

chef8489
12-14-2006, 11:17 PM
Calphalon One infused annodized aluminum or a cast iron skillet.

Dennis
12-15-2006, 06:35 AM
Ouch - Care to elaborate on the French steel pans? I am not really familar with them. How are they cared for, do they "season" like cast iron, are they cared for in the same way, applications for their use... You know, the basics. :biggrin:

Dennis

ouch
12-15-2006, 07:45 AM
The black steel pans are treated just like cast iron- you season them initially, and then make sure you dry them well (just heat them) before you put them away. Many chefs will claim that no other pan can properly color an omelette, and will dedicate one for that purpose alone. As they age, they become increasingly non stick, and develop a beautiful (or ugly, depending on your view) deep golden color. Ideally, they are intended for the professional kitchen, where they will be in constant use. Great for pan searing, pancakes, and crepes, but not for everyone.

ratcheer
12-15-2006, 01:10 PM
Calphalon, if they still make it the way they used to. Heavy gauge, anodized aluminum. Can be scrubbed without ruining it. Cooks like a dream.

Tim

moses
12-15-2006, 01:37 PM
Calphalon, if they still make it the way they used to. Heavy gauge, anodized aluminum. Can be scrubbed without ruining it. Cooks like a dream.

Tim

I do have one of those, in a 14" sautee pan, that I like a lot. It browns beautifully. I must say, though, that it does not heat quite as evenly out to the sides as I would like (but maybe nothing that big does, on a tiny little gas burner. It also does not have quite the non-stick properties of seasoned cast iron. Although it is close.

-Mo

ouch
12-16-2006, 07:45 AM
14"??? That's one big pan you got there.:ohmy:

Phog Allen
12-16-2006, 09:15 AM
+++ on the cast iron. We have a few Lodge brand skillets and a griddle. Most were used and we wanted them that way. Lots of good heat treatment/seasoning already there. We use the 10(?)inch griddle the most. We've had it over ten years. It is glossy black from all the usage. You have to TRY to stick stuff to it most times. Otherwise it's just wipe it off with a paper towel. Tried some of the T-fal stuff years ago.:thumbdown The supposedly indestructible coating flaked right off after a number of months. I think the heat is what caused it. It just coudn't take searing heat. Probably in the instuctions not to do it but yeesh. The Lodge griddle is about $14 and does all round breakfast duty at our house. Another tip with cast iron is that if you find an old piece of this that is rusted badly(surface scale, NOT heavily pitted)just toss it in a campfire for a few hours. It will clean that rust right off. Of course if the cast is compromised you may wind up with a broken piece of cookware. YMMV use with caution. Used cast is so cheap you probably won't be out much.

Ouch, I will check out your black steel pans. This stuff sounds right up my alley. Besides, with the bigger cast skillets my petite wife can't handle them too well. All Clad sounds like it's on the list too.

As for Le Creuset, I used to think I wanted a whole compliment of this. That's not true anymore. I'd like a couple of the big Dutch ovens for braising and soups and stews. Skillets and griddles shoud = SIMPLE.

Regards, Todd

fuerein
12-16-2006, 10:21 AM
Todd, if you look at most non-stick (possibly not all, but all I've ever looked at) they typically have a statement in the instructions to use the pans only over low-medium heats. High heats tend to ruin the non-stick coating after a period of time. You can still sear, you just have to do it at a slightly lower temperature, which o course doesn't work as well... Hence why I in general prefer regular stainless for skillets.

_JP_
12-16-2006, 10:22 AM
I use cast iron skillets on an made by Lodge Manufacturing (http://www.lodgemfg.com/) on my electric stove. They will last you a life time with a little reasonable care, and I do nearly everything in them including omelets. One thing about cast iron on an electric element is that the burner does tend to remove the seasoning on the bottom where the contact is. Be careful to give that a wipe with salad oil until you build up the coating or it will rust.

You'll probably also want some non stick skillets as well. There again, I have good luck with the thicker gauge skillets that aren't real expensive, and they last me a number of years before the silverstone or whatever coating wears out. Or, you could go with the premium grades that have been suggested here.

Dennis
12-16-2006, 10:33 AM
I do not buy expensive non-stick skillets. It is simply not worth it as they just do not last that long under normal kitchen circumstances. I am not going to buy a non-stick skillet only to use it under lowish heat to preserve the coating. My "best buys" for skillets have been commercial Tramontina skillets that I find at Sam's Club. The are built very nicely, come in 10 and 12 inch sizes seperately or as a set and are pretty darn cheap. I do not feel bad about using it like a pan and will just replace it when I need to. It has been over a year and i am still using the same ones. They heat evenly, have good heft, and the clean up is, well, like a non-stick skillet. :biggrin:

Dennis