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New Cuisinart skillet, everything sticks. Help?

Ok, I'm not an idiot about cooking in stainless. We got rid of our non-stick pans 2 years ago and have been living pretty happily with only a small stainless omelette pan, a large cast iron and a wok. For Xmas, I received a seemingly pretty nice cuisinart "3-ply" stainless skillet, I think it's a 12". Every single thing we have cooked in here has stuck, which is bad enough, but what's worse is cleaning it is next to impossible. At least in my other pans, when things stick I can get them clean without sweating and working for 30 minutes scrubbing the dang thing out. I've tried soaking it in hot water for a couple of hours first and then scrubbing but it wasn't any easier.

The pan's instructions said to use only low or medium heat, which I've complied with. I've done the usual in getting it hot first, then cold oil, then food in the pan, but everything sticks. I grilled pieces of italian sausage last night, in plenty of oil and even they stuck like mad!

What gives?

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  1. I've never had that problem with mine and I follow the same procedures. I make sure my food is not straight from the fridge, as that tends to make things stick. Did you leave it alone before stirring/moving? If you move it around too fast, it could stick. You should also make sure the oil is shimmering before adding food.....I don't know what else to tell you.

    You cooking on gas or electric? Does the pan have a metal disk on the bottom?

    1 Reply
    1. re: Dee S

      Gas. No metal disk as I can recall (I'm at work and don't have the pan in front of me but I scrubbed it like 4 times over the past 3 days and I would probably remember). I did leave the sausage for awhile before messing with it but it was really stuck on there.

      I feel bad because this pan was a gift. I don't want to get rid of it because it was a gift but I know I will go out of my way to avoid using it because of the sticking problem. I just don't know what to do.

    2. I have a 15" ss All-clad that I use when I want my food to stick, but mainly use my non-stick pans, day to day. The ss is perfect for stuff that needs pan sauces, where I want the fond. For pan-steaks, thin pork chops, veal or chicken pounded flat and floured, I want lots of stuff to stick to the pan, and the non-stick just doesn't get enough. But then, I pour the liquid in and get it hot (chicken stock, wine, whatever...) and that lets me loosen up what's in the pan. Either serve on the meat, or put the meat back in to coat and then serve. In any case, by the time I go to clean up the pan, nothing is stuck and I just wash it out gently with a sponge and dishsoap/water.

      For thick chops or steaks, I either grill outside or use the cast iron super hot - once I've formed a good maillard reaction on both sides of the meat, I'll throw the pan in the oven to finish. Clean-up is wipe out the pan with paper towels.

      For other stuff - grilled veg, sausage&peppers, etcetc... it's Teflon - good ol' PTFE. As long as I keep the surface temp under 500F, I feel pretty safe. I also don't try and keep these pans for very long, as they all wear. I buy cheapo teflon stuff at the restaurant supply store and toss them after 2-3 years, or if they accidentally get seriously grooved. You can brown meat on teflon - you just can't get the fond - IMHO, that's what they invented stainless steel for!

      3 Replies
      1. re: applehome

        Have not heard the "maillard reaction" since Graham Kerr stopped galloping.
        I use it with tomato paste to deepen depth of flavor in my osso buco.

        1. re: wolfe

          Then you haven't read the holy bible: On Food and Cooking - The Science and Lore of the Kitchen, by Harold McGee. Also discussed in depth (how to enhance with baking soda, fat being an essential requirement, controlled tests, etc.) in Herve This's Molecular Gastronomy.

          McGee's site: http://news.curiouscook.com/

          1. re: applehome

            Heck, I was just complimenting you.

      2. I think the heat is too low. I own Cuisinart cookware also and have no problem. I know the instructions tell you not to use more than medium heat but try going to medium-high.

        5 Replies
        1. re: KTinNYC

          Cuisinart pans come with instructions!!!??? Now I know why I use inexpensive stainless with super high heat and no sticking. My pots and pans have never come with instructions.

          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

            Three words, lowest, common, denominator....

            Seriously, the pans are very reasonably priced if you get them on sale from Amazon and they work great. They are my every day pots and pans.

            ETA, I use high heat all the time on these pans.

            1. re: Sam Fujisaka

              thanks for your sarcastic snark, and happy new year to you too. I happen to be POOR so I do read the instructions when I get something new so that it lasts, I don't break or ruin whatever it is or otherwise f*ck the thing up because I didn't bother to take 5 seconds to look through the do's and don'ts.

              1. re: rockandroller1

                I'm sorry for being a jackass! Its just that I beat and bang and high heat my inexpensive SS Chefmate pots and pans from Target (no instructions), as I do my then expensive but now 30 years old German no-name set. I got the German stuff when I was relatively poor and they've lasted through years of tough use (also no instructions). Now that I have dough, I still buy inexpensive from Target when I visit the US--simply because I can't find real reasons to buy more expensive stuff. I have a couple of really, really high output single burner stoves (one that Thai street food vendors use, another made for campers in the US). I've used my stainless on these stoves--no damage and no sticking.

                So Happy New Year to you too...and keep on rockin' and rollin'

            2. re: KTinNYC

              This thread is very strange to me. If one of the main advantages of a regular skillet is to get a good fond on the bottom, how is this achieved with something that says to only use on low or medium heat (especially since your 'medium' and mine might be quite different). If you don't want something to stick, the pan needs to be very hot before you add the food and it then needs to be left alone (NOT moved around constantly) until you have a nice sear and it is no longer adhering to the pan. Your food does not need to 'stick' in order to form a fond.

            3. I'm getting rid of my teflon also, and switching to the cuisinart, but I haven't tried the skillet yet. I'm keeping a piece of my teflon for certain things like eggs. I have heard (from "chefs" on TV) that if something is sticking to the pan that it is not ready to be turned over yet. I'm not sure how valid that theory is, but its worth a try. I also think that the pans should be fine over higher heat. I mean, if any pan is going to work on high heat it should be a triple clad one, right? Also, maybe let the oil heat up before adding the food.

              I'm sorry you are having such trouble with the pan. It is beautiful though. If all else fails you can hang it on the wall.

              1. I think it's any or all of three things: 1) not using enough heat 2) not letting the oil heat up and 3) not waiting long enough before moving the items. A fully clad saute pan should be made for high heat--that's the very basis of sauteeing. My guess is that the low heat info has more to do with Cuisinart's legal department than sound cooking. You can always adjust your heat after the items have "released."

                3 Replies
                1. re: Sam Harmon

                  thanks everyone. I know I'm not guilty of not waiting long enough before moving the food, so I will try getting it really really hot as well as making the oil very hot and see if this improves the results.

                2. Thanks again everyone for your input. I browned my pork roast in the new pan today before throwing it in the crock pot and got it WAY hot on high heat, also waited til the oil looked ripply and hot and it didn't stick at all. That's definitely the key. I don't know why Cuisinart suggests not to do this.

                  1. I have experienced the same the thing, practically flooded the bottom of the frying pan with extra virgin olive oil, but everything stuck like mad.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Tanteans

                      Hi, Tanteans:

                      4 steps to hate-free SS cooking:

                      (1) "Season" the pan. NOT LIKE CAST IRON. Heat the oiled, wiped (1/8" depth) empty pan to just below the oil's smoke point. If you don't have an IR thermometer, heat to the point the oil shimmers. Turn off the heat and let cool completely. Pour out the excess oil and wipe as much out as you can with paper towels. IT WILL NOT LOOK LIKE YOU'VE DONE ANYTHING, but you have. Henceforth (and forevermore), only clean the pan by scrubbing with salt and oil. If you do need to scour with cleanser or detergent, repeat the above. Alternate method: pop popcorn in the covered pan, let cool, rinse out.

                      (2) Hot pan, cold oil. Learn the mercury ball/Leidenfrost technique for judging heat. Preheat the EMPTY pan to this point (about 360F). THEN add your fat or oil and turn down the heat to where it needs to be.

                      (3) Room temperature food. Most people keep their food in the reefer until moments before they cook. Bad cook! For example, take your eggs out of the fridge at LEAST an hour before you cook them, and the night before if you can never remember.

                      (4) Use salted butter rather than unsalted. I don't know why this works, but it does.