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If you could have only one NOT Non-Stick Pan which one would it be?

Hi Chowhounds,

I have been getting by for two years with a full set of non-stick cookware, and am more than ready to make the leap into cooking with something different. Given space and budget considerations, I'd like to start off with one pot/pan that will have the highest use and work my way from there. If you could have one pan that is NOT non-stick what would you go with and why?

My current thoughts are a 12" All Clad Copper Core skillet, but I'm awaiting advice!

Thanks much

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  1. 12" Lodge cast iron skillet. It's not good for everything but it's great for more things than anything else I own.

    1 Reply
    1. re: inuksuk

      Agree with the cast iron. Can made cornbreads, fry, roast. Good for both stove topo, oven, grill, camp fire. Almost indestructible!

    2. I agree with the 12" skillet concept - as is probably known by now, I'm very happy with my Sitram pans, but have never used All Clad.

      2 Replies
      1. re: MMRuth

        I realized - mine is not a skillet but a saute pan (straight edges) - which is deep enough for me to braise in etc. I have to confess that I am terribly lazy about doing proper clean up and maintenance of my cast iron pans and therefor only use them to make Tarte Tatin. I aspire to be better about it though, especially with all of the glowing recs here!

        1. re: MMRuth

          It looks like MMRuth and I are in the minority but I too will go with clad SS over cast iron IF I am limited to one and one only not nonstick pan -- my reasons are simple:

          #1 the heat reponsiveness factor is better for a high quality clad pan, lots of times I will tweak the heat up or down a wee bit while sauteing and cast iron just has too much lag

          #2 ease of cleaning /care when (not if in my house, as others use the pans besides me) something gets put in the pan that should not (such as an acid) OR something gets burned OR a 'helpful' person sticks pan in dishwasher it is no big deal to ss but cast iron, yikes!

          #3 sort of reverse cost/importance calculation -- meaning that something cheap but where use makes it better (like a cast iron pan) is oddly harder to replace than a costly but largely inert clad ss pan. Another way of saying this "If something happens to a clad pan "it is only money" put to a cherished cast iron pan "there goes a piece of my history....

          I like my AllClad pans and my Berndes, and I would be very happy with stuff from Viking too.

        2. Second Lodge cast iron - heavy duty work horse in the kitchen. As long as you don't wash it with soap or pickle Kimchee in it, it gets the job done well. But it needs strong arm to wield.

          Why consider All Clad? Do some research in the forum and you will see other options.

          1. I use a 1 1/2 quart Viking Saucier. It's super-heavy and has so many uses... deep enough for liquid cooking, sloped sides for sauteeing, comes with a lid if you need one. If I only had one pan in my kitchen, this would be it.

            1. my first foray into grown-up cookware was a 12 inch all clad sautee pan. still going strong, and i still use it the most. you will not regret it.

              can you make pan sauces with acids in a cast iron pan?

              6 Replies
              1. re: eLizard

                I have made gravy from a bottom round roast beef in the cast iron pan, with good results. And the gravy did include red wine. And I have heard some people can "taste" the iron when cooking certain items, but I have never noticed. Love my pan- it originally belonged to my grandmoter- and I am past 50, so that will tell you how long they last! I also have one of her revere ware copper bottom pans. That sucker is old!

                1. re: eLizard

                  I have the same question. I'd like to be able to not only get a nice crust on pan seared meats but be able to make french-style pan sauces. That's my biggest gripe with non-stick (besides not being able to heat them up dry) that you can't get a good pan "fond" to make sauces. Will cast iron work well for this?

                  1. re: ExercisetoEat

                    In the winter, I sear my steaks in the cast iron, and finish off in the oven. I also use it when making rack of lamb. Gives a nice crust. I have cooked pork chops, stuffed with an apple/bread stuiffing.. The pork chops come out nicely browned, and the stuffing keeps everything moist. And of course, bacon , eggs and home fries on the weekend are wonderful in the cast iron. For the price, you can't go wrong.
                    Most of the sauces I make involve the fond,broth, maybe some wine and butter.
                    Last weekend I made a gravy from my roast, and as the roast was resting, I put the skillet back on the stove top, added some butter and flour, a quick roux. then added a bit of red wine, S/P . Done. And best of all, the clean up was a snap. The only thing I do not like about my largest skillet is the weight of it.

                    1. re: ExercisetoEat

                      A good cast iron skillet will work great for this. You'll get a good fond, and if you've built up a good seasoning on it, you shouldn't have any problem cooking with acids for a pan sauce, as you're not cooking it for that long. Besides, deglazing is a great way to clean up a cast iron pan.

                      1. re: kerdragon

                        Are there any enameled cast iron skillets that work well? I am crazy about my Le Cruset dutch ovens and they clean up so easily. I think a cast iron skillet would be wonderful to own, I'm just a bit nervous about the "seasoning" somehow flaking a bit and affecting the flavor of the deglazed sauce? Maybe I really need one of each...? =)

                        1. re: ExercisetoEat

                          Don't be scared about any talk about seasoning. TO make it easy- when you first get your cast iron, just cook bacon in it for the first few times. Rinse with hot water, and dry thouroughly. There should be no flaking. When I bought a new one, I used it for bacon, and did not do anything else- no rubbing with oil or crisco- just bacon. You will know it is seasoned when things don't stick! i think a lot of people are afraid but rememebr this is the kind of pans they used on wagon trains- so they had to be dependable, versatile and easy to care for.