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Stainless Steel Skillets: Better Then Non-Stick?

s
snax Sep 12, 2008 08:54 PM

Regarding the brand Demeyere, will the stainless steel skillet (Atlanta Series) give me a somewhat non-stick cooking quality, especially when cooking scrambled eggs, eggs in general, pancakes, fish and crumbed foods?

Reading other posts it seems that some people prefer to have a non-stick skillet especially for cooking eggs and pancakes, where as other people swear by a good stainless steel skillet will give you the same benefits if used correctly.

Also I can honestly say that I am not interested in cast iron as far as skillets are concerned, but I do know that they offer non-stick benefits also.

Cheers :-)

  1. r
    RealityMonster Mar 8, 2009 07:07 PM

    I recently heard the whole 'hot pan, cold oil' thing and tried it out.

    The trick is that the pan ACTUALLY has to be hot. Since it's usually recommended that you don't ram the heat up to full blast when you start, you have to actually turn it to something moderate and then walk away for a couple minutes. I've been using a fairly small amount of olive oil once the pan heats up, and you can see immediately how the oil thins and spreads differently compared to if you just put it in the pan at the beginning.

    Crack the eggs in, do your thing. I've been using a non-stick flipper, and I can 'scrape' the more cooked egg bits right off the pan with no fuss. Runny yolk eggs are no problem.

    I don't know the science behind it, but it really appears to work. Of course I discovered this just after ordering a small cookware set that includes two non-stick pans. :/

    2 Replies
    1. re: RealityMonster
      r
      rockfish42 Mar 11, 2009 01:01 AM

      Metal surfaces have microscopic gaps in them, if you heat the pan up before adding anything these gaps close shut somewhat due to thermal expansion. If you add the oil earlier it gets into these gaps, proteins are particularly nasty if added too soon.

      1. re: rockfish42
        r
        RealityMonster Mar 15, 2009 07:52 AM

        That's really cool. Thanks for that. :)

    2. m
      mateo21 Mar 8, 2009 02:00 PM

      Well.. with proper heat application, yes. I know and have witnessed someone cook perfect scrambled eggs in their Demeyere Atlantis skillet -- not a single thing stuck. I have also seen it done in a SS lined copper skillet. med-low heat for... 3-4 minutes (do not skip this step!), brush on oil or melted butter, drop in eggs. That's how it was done both times -- viola! Unfortunately... I've never been able to do it myself, but I know it can be done.

      1 Reply
      1. re: mateo21
        c
        chuckl Mar 8, 2009 06:22 PM

        hot pan, cold oil seems to be the popular mantra

      2. d
        dustrobinson Mar 7, 2009 07:56 PM

        Stainless steel won't come non-stick but you can always buy non-stick skillets and pans to use when you need them. Stainless steel pieces are nice looking and stay pretty clean if you take proper care of them but there biggest advantage to stainless if their ability to saute and they tend to cook a little more even. Also stainless steel is stainless steel no matter who makes it so you are 99% of the time getting a good product.

        1. r
          RGC1982 Sep 23, 2008 08:44 PM

          No.

          Demeyere Atlantis is a great line, but their stainless steel skillets stick with the best of them unless you use a lot of oil or butter.

          Demeyere Atlantis is probably my favorite cookware, but for things that stick, like fried egg, it is not my favorite. Same with pancakes. I would suggest keeping one pan -- Calphalon, or a typical non-stick, for eggs. You can cooked things like breaded chicken cutlets as long as you put enough oil or butter in the pan in the Atlantis.

          1 Reply
          1. re: RGC1982
            s
            snax Sep 25, 2008 03:13 AM

            I guess I'll just start off with the stainless steel and see how things pan out, and buy another pan if sticking becomes a problem.

          2. Zeldog Sep 23, 2008 08:00 PM

            All this obsessing about skillet material. As a short order cook (not chef) many years ago, I prepared hundreds (maybe thousands) of omelette, pancake, and scrambled egg orders using bare aluminum pans. "If used correctly", as snax says, is exactly right. Nine times out of ten, if your eggs stick, your pan (and/or oil) is too cold when you add the main ingredients. Aluminum (bare or anodized) is great if you need to flip (in the air) your omelette or pancake. Cast iron is great for frittatas or tortillas espanoles that cook slowly and don't need flipping or can be flipped using a plate. If you want to make a sauce using the sticky bits left on the pan, stainless is the only way to go. The main disadvantage, compared to aluminum, is it's a bit too heavy to flip an omelette or pancake without using a spatula. But another great thing about stainless is you can take a sander to it if it gets crusty.

            If you've got your basic cooking skills down you can make a first rate omelette using any material, down to unglazed terra cotta (yes, I've done that). So go ahead and buy a stainless skillet, and if you don't get perfect results first time, don't blame the pan.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Zeldog
              m
              mpalmer6c Sep 23, 2008 09:28 PM

              Hey, come on now. Pan reduction sauces were around eons before stainless steel came along.

              1. re: mpalmer6c
                Zeldog Sep 24, 2008 07:50 PM

                Those sauces also were around before aluminum, hard anodization, and teflon. That doesn't mean cast iron, or whatever Vatel used in the 17th century, is forever the best material for making fond.

              2. re: Zeldog
                l
                lergnom Mar 8, 2009 10:29 AM

                Yes, I was going to say: hot pan and fat, meaning oil or butter (or even a spray).

                And a simple way to clean gunk is to add some water and heat the pan on the stove until the gunk softens and releases.

                I have some regular and some non-stick. The regular are better for browning and they allow you to heat the pan. Non-stick pans, no matter the make, don't like being heated without anything in them. Now if I'm building something in a pan and don't want to put in a ton of fat to make sure it releases cleanly, I'll use a non-stick, less fat and layer the ingredients in. They will brown but it takes more. I'm speaking, for example, of mandolin cut layered gratins of zucchini or the like where appearance is important and I'm doing it on the top instead in an oven.

              3. s
                snax Sep 14, 2008 04:40 AM

                Can you use an enameled cast iron skillet for eggs etc?

                4 Replies
                1. re: snax
                  paulj Sep 14, 2008 08:04 AM

                  Based on my experience I would rank materials, from sticky to non as:

                  stainless steel
                  bare aluminum
                  worn non-stick
                  enameled steel or cast iron
                  hard anodized aluminum
                  glazed pottery
                  well seasoned cast iron or carbon steel
                  good nonstick

                  1. re: paulj
                    m
                    mlgb Sep 14, 2008 09:14 AM

                    I agree with your rating, although I haven't tried glazed pottery on a cooktop (would it hold up?)

                    The stickier the material, the more oil or fat is needed. And even then, I find stainless very sticky.

                    If you get a good SMOOTH, well seasoned cast iron pan, and only use it for eggs and pancakes, the cleanup is pretty easy. However, I don't think much of the new pans that have a rough sand-cast finish and come "preseasoned" as far as "nonstick".

                    1. re: mlgb
                      paulj Sep 14, 2008 09:35 AM

                      I have experience with two types of glazed pottery items, Chinese sand pots, and a Spanish casuela. I've used the sand pots on a butane hot plate without problem. I get some sticking, even burning if I don't watch the rice dish carefully, but it washes off easily. I've only used the Spanish one in the oven, to oven-roast a fish steak. The label says it's ok on a gas burner, but on electric it probably needs a trivet.

                      Both call an initial soaking.

                  2. re: snax
                    MikeB3542 Sep 14, 2008 09:28 PM

                    Sure, don't forget the butter! The enamelled stuff is most definitely not non-stick, but better than stainless (very similar to anodized aluminum). Come to think of it, a nice heavy anodized aluminum pan might be just the ticket. Handles heat really well, and cleans up nice. It is a whole lot lighter than cast iron and is non-reactive.

                    Neither anodized aluminum nor enamelled cast iron definitely will tolerate the dishwasher. Stainless steel ought to handle the dishwasher, but the metals in the multi-ply bottoms might have issues (we had one delaminate when my wife and I were newlyweds and didn't know any better).

                  3. c
                    chuckl Sep 13, 2008 03:47 PM

                    stainless will stick, but it's supposed to, to create frond when you saute to make sauce. I've found it sticks a bit less if you follow the hot pan cold oil mantra, but if you're looking for a non stick surface, stainless won't do it. cast iron properly seasoned can be almost as effective as non stick pans, though you indicated you're not interested in cast iron. Personally, i'd take a seasoned cast iron pan over a non stick surface any day.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: chuckl
                      s
                      snax Sep 13, 2008 03:57 PM

                      Damn.

                      I don't want non-stick because (my opion) of the health issues. I'm not keen on cast iron for skillets because of the cleaning, seasoning and drying issues (I want to use my dish washer :-) ).

                      I don't mind the fact that samll amounts of food will stick to a stainless steel pan which you can use as a sauce. I am trying to find a skillet that would be ideal for cooking eggs and pancakes etc.

                      I know if I turn to a non-stick skillet then there is no problems with sticking, but I would prefer to use a stainless steel skillet as I will buy one anyway, I guess my other option is to buy a cast iron skillet just for eggs and other delicate foods. (I just like quick clean ups )

                      1. re: snax
                        m
                        mpalmer6c Sep 13, 2008 07:17 PM

                        The probalem with stainless skillets isn't food sticking to the bottom of the pan. it's all the little brown spots baking on to the the sides like epoxy. I figured every time I used my All-Clad it took about 20 minutes to clean the interior. It's not just my aany idea; check out the Burros article. Just trying to warn you against something expensive you might not like.

                        1. re: snax
                          KaimukiMan Sep 25, 2008 01:56 AM

                          cast iron is so simple to take care of. once you have the thing seasoned and if you use a bit of oil each time you cook, all you have to do is wipe it or rinse it , maybe a quick scrub here and there with a soft scotch brite pad and viola...you are done. once a month or so, give it a little extra tlc and you will be fine. just don't put it away in the back of the cabinet damp with other pans stacked on top of it.

                      2. m
                        mpalmer6c Sep 13, 2008 03:21 PM

                        Nope. Stainless is about the "stickiest" surface there is. If you don't want cast iron, sonsider carbon steel. I have three French-made, moderately priced CS panxs and I use them for almost everything now. Only need tongs, not a spatula, even for fish. French chefs have been cooking with them for generations. (I have one non-stick that I use for eggs and such,)

                        Marian Burros ran some tests:

                        http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/07/din...

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: mpalmer6c
                          Whosyerkitty Sep 13, 2008 03:37 PM

                          I think stainless is good for POTS and I use cast iron for skillets (I love them). As far as commercial "NON-STICK" surfaces go the chemicals and the things I've heard (true or not) now weird me out and I've stopped using them.

                        2. m
                          mlgb Sep 13, 2008 08:27 AM

                          Stainless steel is about as far from non-stick as you can get.

                          1. ccbweb Sep 13, 2008 06:30 AM

                            As you note, others will have different opinions and/or experiences. My stainless skillets, which I love, have never been at all non-stick unless I work hard to make them that way (plenty of butter, oil or cooking spray). My wife and I have 10 inch and 7 1/2 inch nonstick skillets that we use for eggs and such. (We have a griddle that we use for pancakes.)

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