Originally Posted by alimac23
Can you really get stainless (or other materials) to be non stick? All the cheaper pans I've tried, the food sticks to them straight away.
This is actually how it's supposed to be and I think your comment is indicative of some weak cooking technique. The meat will stick, AND BROWN, then let go (mostly) when it's done. If you want to fuss with it early, it's going to stick and tear and be a poor experience. Once the food touches the metal, leave it alone.
This is what you should be doing:
- Heat the pan
- Add the oil--there's an adage, Hot pan, Cold oil, Food won't stick. It's not absolutely true, but its more true than not.
- Add the seasoned meat to the pan carefully. Add it so you start close to you and the rest comes into the pan away from you. This way you don't splash hot oil or juice onto yourself.
- Don't crowd the pan. As you cook, the food will release juices. If you have enough food in the pan so the juice added can not be quickly evaporated, you'll start steaming and braising the food. You cant sear and generate that desired golden brown deliciousness with wet cooking methods.
- If you're going to cook the meat all the way through as for chicken, it will give you indicators that it's time to turn it.
- You may see drops of juice forming on the top side of the cutlet.
- Time, most recipes give you an approximate time for when you should turn the meat. This is close to the time for the meat to self-release on most equipment.
- If you jerk the pan, the cutlet will move. It will have let go from the cooking surface. You can also prod it and see if it releases with gentle force. Or lift a corner. If it lifts easily, it's time to flip it. If it doesn't move the first time, give it another 45-60 seconds and try again. If it still doesn't release, turn it anyway and check how seared it is. The jerk test also works for steak that you're going to cook rare or medium rare.
- Usually the first surface you put down against the pan will be the presentation surface because it will have the most even coloring.
- Check doneness An instant read thermometer is best, especially for beginners. When you have some experience you can add other tests such poke tests and juice checks.
Poke test videos
On to pans.
Stainless clad saute pans are in important tool for the home cook. They're tough, non reactive and versatile. And more expensive. In sauce pans and pots, clad is nice, but not necessary. And you'll still want some other specialty material pans as well most likely.
My advice, avoid sets in general.
Tramontina is my preference for bang for buck clad cookware but the other major brands are good quality generally too but much more expensive. If you can get a deal on other brands, go for it. Wamart on line usually has some interesting Tramontina options as does Amazon. Costco often does as well.
Size wise, I like 10 and 12 inch saute pans. i don't find an 8 inch pan useful much except in non-stick for eggs. Your uses may well be different than mine.
Non-stick pans were first advertised as low fat cookware and easy clean up. They do have some special properties that are useful, particularly for eggs and fish. You can come reasonably close with cast iron or carbon steel, but something like scrambled eggs or an omelette still perform better in non-stick. I also like 10 and 12 inch sizes best in non-stick. For non-stick buy a thick aluminum pan with a non-stick coating as cheaply as possible Expect to replace it in 3-5 years. Buy a new one when you see the deal and store it until you need it. You can recycle the old pan as needed and have a fresh good one ready to go.
The exception is if you cook on induction. Then you'll have to pay more to get an induction compatible non-stick pan.
We can talk more about cast iron and carbon steel if want, but this is enough for now I think.