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help buying a frying pan (STICKY?)

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Why aren't there stickies on chowhound forums? FOr example, this topic should be a sticky. I'm sure it's covered a 1000 times but it's hard trying to find a similar thread amongst 1000000000 others.

So my old frying pan got old and I had to buy a new one. I bought a Calphalon nonstick try-ply stainless 10" Omlette Pan (http://www.amazon.com/Calphalon-Tri-P...
)It's a bit more expensive here in Canada ($105).

But I started having doubts. Is this too expensive? Should I buy a different kind of frying pan? Plus, the lids that I have cover this pan but because the side of the pan is slightly slanted, the lids don't cover it 100% and the ends of the lid go in the pan just a bit and can come in contact with the food/liquid that might be in the pan.

So, what do I need? What should I get? Cast iron? Non-stick (aluminum? teflon?)? How about a saute pan instead? Would that do the job?

I'm sure the answer is going to be "it depends on what you cook," and I cook everything! So a quick rundown of each would be really appreciated.

Thanks

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  1. One thing you can't do in a non-stick pan is sear over high heat. You might want a carbon steel (my favorite) or cast iron pan for that. Below is a recent discussion, and you might want to check out the links. I think a sticky on the topic would grow to a ridiculous length.

    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/515313

    1. Addendum regarding price: You can save yourself a bundle by buying Vollrath. for example, from a restaurant supply store, such as Surfa's. All-aluminum is fine -- no need for fancy construction with a non-stick pan. I got an 8-inch one for 23 bucks.

      1. No, don't get non-stick. Non-stick sucks. Get cast iron, either regular (Lodge) or enamelled (Le Creuset/Ikea).

        1. i use a 10" saute pan in place of a frying/omelette pan. only difference is straight sides vs sloped/curved. dont need the curve. the saute has a lid; although its shallow sometimes i use it to braise; less chance of spilling liquid when i move it around; etc.. (though really moot points since i just saute on it most of the time)

          alton brown has a nice section on the difference materials. without going into the Whys, what it boils down to me is a) never bother with non-stick b) go with anodized alum or cladded stainless steel (layered fully, not just at the base).

          i went with an SS for my pan, because its easier to see stuff develop on its surface rather than dark anodized alum. for cooking non-stick, i use my cast iron. its heavier, a bit more unwieldy, takes a tad longer to care for, but its indestructible and good for taking a beating, extreme heat situation, batch browning, etc. plus its CHEAP. so no biggie in procuring an SS and CI pans together. (i end up using both equally)

          1. You want a traditional (i.e. not nonstick) skillet for doing most things around the kitchen, and a nonstick for things that fuse to the pan, such as scrambled eggs. I'd start out with a 12 inch of each, then expand to a 10 inch if you feel like getting more. I use cast iron for most of my cooking, and then a decent nonstick pan that I found on sale at Target over Christmas. $100 is way more than you should pay for a non-stick skillet; they wear out easily, and you don't want to be stuck paying that much for a brand new skillet every year or so.

            Aluminum isn't something I'd want to use in my kitchen. It can react with acidic ingredients (tomatoes and such) and throw off the flavor of the food.