Another cookware question
November 29, 2017 8:50 AM   Subscribe

Inspired by this question and the fact that it's time to replace my 12" anodized skillet (which I cook EVERYTHING in), I'm now wondering if I should just get a stainless skillet or replace the anodized one? I usually just buy my skillet(s) from the restaurant supply house. What kind of skillet do you cook in?
posted by sarajane to Home & Garden (9 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Good tri-ply stainless (I use Henckels that I bought 10+ years ago) for almost everything but scrambled eggs/omelet/frittata which get cooked in a every-other-year-disposable (Costco Tramontina) non-stick. Cast iron mostly just for searing, plus breakfast hashes and fried eggs. Sometimes I use a carbon steel crepe pan for smashed burgers but mostly I do those on the outdoor rolled-steel propane griddle.

Serious Eats has a cheap skillet comparison here, and an All-Clad vs Tramontina article here. I think there's another article forthcoming with FLIR imagery from Kenji.
posted by supercres at 9:01 AM on November 29, 2017 [3 favorites]

I'm a huge cast iron fan. It takes a while to get a really good finish on cast iron, but once you do it competes with non-stick and takes abuse that would destroy non-stick pans. (And by "takes a while", I mean "sure, season it, a bunch of times, but it takes years of regular use before that surface becomes super good")

I still have a stainless skillet or two, but generally I use those for braising or other liquid cooking. My go-to for anything involving oils or fats is cast-iron.

And make sure you heat the pan before you add the fat: since the fats float on water, this makes sure you drive all of the moisture out of the pan first.
posted by straw at 9:02 AM on November 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

I use triclad for about 80% of my needs and cast iron for the rest (and occasionally a non-stick for things like omlets). I like cooking with acids a lot so reactive skillets aren't good for my needs. I also use induction burners sometimes and all of my triclad stuff works on them.

If I were you and it's in your budget, I'd look hard at the All-Clad Stainless Steel 12-Inch Covered Fry Pan.
posted by Candleman at 9:18 AM on November 29, 2017 [2 favorites]

I dislike anodized because it's acid-reactive (I accidentally recommended a friend ruin expensive Calphalon with my chicken frarej recipe, I had no idea and neither did they until the lemon did its work). Stainless clad is perfect for everything but eggs, and a cast iron pan I mostly use in the oven.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:04 AM on November 29, 2017

More and more, I'm moving towards cast iron, carbon steel and enameled, with exceptions for eggs and fish that go on non-stick. I've never been happy with stainless steel pans. I have quite a few aluminum pans (anodized and not) because I liked them a lot before, they are so easy to use, but today they are almost never in use. It probably has a lot to do with your cooking habits and styles. Also, in spite of some of my anodized pans still being fine, I am beginning to resent the idea of throwing away expensive cookware, and both cast iron and carbon are indestructible. With care and infrequent use, I can make those non-stick pans last longer, too.
posted by mumimor at 10:42 AM on November 29, 2017

Pricey unless you can find one at a thrift store or ebay, but I cook 90% of my meals in either a Le Creuset size 26 or a modern, larger Le Creuset skillet without the wooden handle (by no means do you need to spend etsy prices on these, I got mine on ebay for about $40).

Onions caramelize better! Chickens fries better! They're easier to clean up!

The other go-tos are a no-name cast iron wok that I've had for close to 20 years, and an enameled sauce pan, probably Dansk.
posted by aspersioncast at 12:12 PM on November 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

Cast iron is my workhorse. I also bought a carbon steel pan (Matfer Bourgeat), which definitely overlaps in functionality with cast iron. I don't like non-stick mostly because they wear out and have to be replaced.

Otherwise I have an All-clad 12" skillet and a saucier (3 quart). If you are patient you can wait for the occasional factory sale, which is how I got the saucier.

I also have a pressure cooker, which feels kind of retro in this age of Instant Pots.
posted by O9scar at 12:53 PM on November 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

Cast iron. Vintage, with the slick surface.
posted by Rash at 2:07 PM on November 29, 2017

We hardly ever use our All-Clad skillets. We use Costco Tramontina non-stick for just about everything that we don't use the cast iron skillets for.
posted by Joleta at 6:02 PM on November 29, 2017

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