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Sticky Pans

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
I have a pan set from Wolfgang Puck's Cafe Collection. It's all stainless steel. The pots are great and don't have a problem with them. The problem comes in with the pans. It don't matter what you put in them, it's going to stick to the bottom like a magnet to steel. I've tried low heat, with just a little oil. I've tried high heat with a lot of oil. Is there anything I can do to get these pans where they don't stick?
post #2 of 5
You most probably aren't letting the item cook all the way. Most food will release, or mostly release, when it's cooked on that side. Let the food cook longer before you try to move it.
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
post #3 of 5
Just filling out Phil's (Phatch's) remarks a little.

Your pan should be very clean before you setting out to do any of these techniques. Food will stick to any left-over residue. But, pans with stainless steel interiors tend to pit in the dishwasher, and a pitted surface is sticky. As much as possible, clean in the sink with regular, liquid, dishwashing soap. Don't use steel-wool pads. A long soak solves a lot of problems. Bar Keeper's Friend is your friend too. If you've got a real problem, it can usually be removed with a full-strength oven cleaner and the time to let it work.

Most home cooks, using most pans (including your WP), on most stoves, find medium-hot to work well to pan-fry, sear, and/or saute under most circumstances. These high-heat techniques require bringing the pan to temperature before adding the fat (oil), and bringing the oil to heat before adding the food.

Don't overcrowd the pan.

Dry food does not stick as much as wet food. Try and get any water, marinade, brine, or other liquid off the surface of your food before adding it to the pan. Paper towels, dish towels, tea towels, napkins, colanders, drainers, strainers and sieves -- they're all your friends. Let them help you. Dry food cooks crisp, wet food cooks soggy.

The surface to surface contact of cooking food and hot pan cause a chemical reaction in which starch-like molecules convert to sugar-like molecules. With vegetables it's called caramelization, with proteins it's called the "Maillard reaction" (words you'll never hear in a working kitchen), but in either case it's just plain browning. A byproduct of the reaction, as it occurs is a bond between food and pan. When the reaction is complete, the food will usually "release," on its own -- leaving a bit of "fond" behind.

Rather than agitating the food with a spatula or spoon from the beginning, let it cook long enough for the reaction to finish on the first side. This bit of patience usually makes all the difference -- even if some of the other rules have been broken. Test to see whether the food has released by shaking the pan. If it moves, it's ready to turn. If, after you know it's brown, and it won't release with a shake -- try breaking the bond by tapping the food on the side with your spatula (or spoon). The less force and prying you use, the better. Finally, if its sticking and you must turn, you must.

The second side will cook faster than the first.

The fond on the bottom of the pan is gold. When you're done cooking the food, drain off any excess oil in the pan and deglaze.

Hope these little tips help,
post #4 of 5
Both of above answers are correct> I have only 1 question? Are you cooking on an open gas flame or closed/ electric or non electric element? If open gas try putting some metal can lids over flame so as flame will not touch pan but heat will. Then see what happens.
I know how annoying this is espeacially if you don't want a font. Stainless Steel in particular this SS is notorius for this.
post #5 of 5
And don't forget a good spatula. IMO, and in my experience, if you use a plastic/rubber/nylon spatula, they tend to not separate the food from the SS pan very seamlessly, and tear the food. But with a good metal spatula, the blade is thin enough to get under the food without tearing the flesh of the item...as well as strong enough to break any bonds between the food and the pan. Sometimes you have to "chip away" (so to speak) at the places where the item is sticking, but the metal spatula breaks the bond, not the food. I have heard other say to never use metal spatulas in pans anymore (esp. with non-stick.) While I completely agree with never using metal utensils in non-stick, I have never had a problem with metal utensils in SS, cast iron, or aluminum.

What exactly are you cooking that is sticking so badly?
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