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nonstick but not non-stick - question

jccooks May 18, 2007 01:37 PM

I just got a great selection of All Clad Ltd pots and pans for my wedding, but need a great fry pan for omlettes and such.. therefore want it to be as stick free as possible.
Avoiding teflon or other coatings is key for me, as it has a tendency to get scratched up in my house (and we'd prefer not to eat that stuff).
My best guess so far would be a le creuset pan, but does anyone have other suggestions?
Is a le crueset as a good match for eggs as the non-stick?

  1. r
    renov8r May 18, 2007 02:25 PM

    The basic chemical that is makes non-stick surfaces what they are is PTFE, and is about as inert a compound as science has whipped up. Eating it is not a concern, and even getting it scratched is far less likely than it was as little as 5 years ago.

    All the good cookware companies have vastly improved the durability of the coating, mostly by changing the way they get the non-stick to adhere to the base. They've also dramatically changed the methods they use in the manufacture, so that far less solvent is used.

    That said, seriously overheating a non-stick pan could liberate the chemical/its by products. I personally don't think that is an issue, but I believe in full disclosure.

    I will be blunt -- there is no other surface that is as non-stick as a top quality PTFE pan.
    Get one from AllClad, Calphalon, Scan, SwissDiamond. Get a couple of all silicone spatulas. Use only them in the pan. No plastic/nylon/melamine/wood ( they all cab get sharpened/hardened in ways that silicone cannot). Never spray the pan with any lecithin based "cooking sprays". Never heat the pan empty. Never put under broiler. Never scour. Never put in dishwasher. Never stack. It will NOT be damaged.

    The glass-enamel surface of the le creuset is nowhere near as non-stick, it is is every bit as prone to damage. It is sorta "not real likely to stick" as long as the gloss stays on it, but to do that it requires even more careful use/cleaning.

    I am sure folks will advocate for plain old cast iron or even steel. I agree that those have their place in a kitchen, but they are not a one-for-one substitute. In addition to their unique seasoning/care requirements the 'sealed' seasoning is never going to allow you to greaselessly 'dry fry' an egg and have it slip out, nor stand up to acidic sauces, nor be capable of sugar cookery, nor be as responsive to heat changes as an aluminum/multicore pan.

    All life choices involve some compromise ...

    2 Replies
    1. re: renov8r
      MMRuth May 21, 2007 09:04 AM

      I know I post this on every "non-stick" thread - but I love my Swiss Diamond 12" saute pan! It can withstand v. high heat and go into the oven.

      1. re: renov8r
        Shazam May 27, 2007 10:21 PM

        I purchased some Jamie Oliver Italian Series non-stick cookware, and it seems to be pretty well invulnerable. It's also dishwasher safe and oven safe.

      2. t
        toddster63 May 20, 2007 08:31 PM

        I find that my 10" All-Clad Copper Core omelet fry-pan (stainless interior) is a great "non-stick" pan for omelets, eggs and delicate things like filet of sole when following the golden rules: preheat pan, add butter/oil, allow butter/oil to heat for 5-10 seconds, then add food. Everything just slides out of this pan, when "lubed", with NO sticking. Makes the best omelets ever. But the coolest thing is turn up the temperature, allow food (chicken breasts) to sit a bit, and the pan delivers remarkable fond for pan sauces--something nonstick can rarely achieve...

        I used to think All-Clad was overpriced Yuppie-ware, but I'm converted now; these pans are amazing and magical when used right (which is not hard). I've used stainless pans in the past, but they were never like this... It's great to be free of Teflon and other nonstick pans, that never last anyway, regardless of price...

        However if you're looking for a pan to fry an egg with no butter or oil at all, for health reasons, a nonstick is probably your best bet. As renover8r has mentioned, not even well seasoned cast iron can deliver this level of nonstick with consistency.

        Le Crueset carries a huge following for their Dutch style ovens, but it seems the skillets get more mixed reviews--enamel skillet cookware in general really. Many have reported sticking with things like eggs, but then again they may not have been preheating and violating the golden rules...?

        4 Replies
        1. re: toddster63
          jzerocsk May 21, 2007 07:48 AM

          Without any fat, an egg will stick to the Le Creuset skillet. If you want to dry-fry, it will be a disaster.

          With butter, oil, bacon fat etc it's just fine. WIth use it does pick up a patina/seasoning that improves the performance. But it's too big and heavy for smaller applications. I love mine, but it does not completely replace my smaller non-stick skillets.

          1. re: toddster63
            chokeartichoke May 22, 2007 11:01 AM

            My seasoned 9" Le Creuset skillet is virtually non-stick... I really love it. if you're not scouring it or cooking acids in it, the patina keeps eggs and other things from sticking... with oil/butter, of course.

            1. re: chokeartichoke
              jccooks May 22, 2007 01:17 PM

              just to clarify, when you say "not scouring it," you mean the best way to build the patina is to only wash it with just a sponge and soap, nothing at all abrasive?

              1. re: jccooks
                chokeartichoke May 25, 2007 07:29 PM

                you just don't want to use something abrasive unless it really needs it. often you can just wipe it out with a paper towel, if there's nothing to really get off.

          2. m
            MakingSense May 20, 2007 10:01 PM

            This may sound crazy and you can blame it on a full moon if there is one tonight.
            Years ago a friend, who's a bit of a Mad Scientist type, told me that if I had a good pan that I used for eggs, and eggs alone, I could build up a non-stick coating on it. The reason, according to him is that eggs contain lecithin, the same chemical that is used in Pam and other similar non-stick sprays. The heat from cooking the eggs would gradually cook the lecithin into/onto the pan much like seasoning a cast iron skillet.
            I have a very good old, heavy Calphalon omelet pan that we use only for eggs. My family knows that it is a felony offense to use it for any other purpose, even a strip of bacon to go with the eggs. It is slick as a whistle, eggs slide right out of it. I use the barest minimum of clarified butter to cook with, enough to wipe the pan.
            My All-Clad and Teflon don't come close to the non-stick of this pan.

            3 Replies
            1. re: MakingSense
              jccooks May 21, 2007 07:54 AM

              these are all a lot to think about. I feel somewhat better about the non-stick coatings after reading renov8r's comments, but the possibility of an egg-only pan that becomes non-stick is just too unbelievable not to try (If I could ever have the patience to stay with it).

              1. re: jccooks
                MakingSense May 21, 2007 10:06 AM

                If it hadn't seemed unbelievable and then if there hadn't been a plausible scientific possibility, I'd have never tried either, but it seems to have worked.
                I hide it when we have houseguests since a few did grab it and use it for other things when they made their own breakfasts - oops! - but a little while of back to eggs only and it was OK. I now put a cheapo teflon up-front-and-center when we have houseguests.
                I have a dedicated steel crepes pan too and it never fails me. Guess I may have to work on the OCD problem but it really has proved worthwhile taking care of those two. Not that hard.

                1. re: MakingSense
                  512window May 22, 2007 05:49 PM

                  I've got one too! I only use it for eggs and it's just as good as teflon.
                  And I am the least OCDish person to ever walk the planet.

            2. p
              piferoen May 21, 2007 07:53 AM

              the pan from Demeyer are the best

              1. k
                Kelli2006 May 21, 2007 08:56 AM

                Sitram has a Cybernox technology that does away with the need for Teflon. it can be used with metal utensil as well as in the oven /under the broiler without problems.

                3 Replies
                1. re: Kelli2006
                  Chuckles the Clone May 26, 2007 03:00 PM

                  Any experience with this stuff? Words like "cybernox technology" and "quasi-crystal"
                  get automatically translated in my head to "snowjob" and "voodoo" so I start out
                  pretty dubious. Is its behavior in a worst case scenario (say, cracking an egg into
                  a cold, dry pan and attempting to over-easy it) noticably different from plain old SS ?

                  1. re: Chuckles the Clone
                    Kelli2006 May 26, 2007 06:13 PM

                    Chuckles, I would never dry fry a egg in a cold Teflon skillet, and I don't feel that it is a good test of non-stick ability.


                    1. re: Kelli2006
                      Chuckles the Clone May 27, 2007 09:07 PM

                      Thanks for the link but obviously it's silly to trust marketing hype. And not a single one of those quotes apears to be by someone who has actually attempted to use the pan. Read them carefully: none of them reflect actual use.

                      What I was hoping was that someone could provide an objective comparison
                      between teflon (which will happily dry-fry an egg, not sure what your issues
                      are) and this voodoo material, the real-world behavior of which remains

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