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Dec 11, 2011 06:42 AM

Question about stainless fry pans (do I need them)


This is my first post here, though I have found the forums helpful in the past. I am looking for some advice. This time of year, WS and SLT have a number of sales, and I often find myself in the position of looking at some great piece of cookware at a great price and wondering if I need or would use it.

So, my question pertains to clad stainless fry pans (AC or Calphalon 8, 10, and 12" tri-ply pans). What do you use them for? How might they add to my cooking arsenal?

In the frying/searing/sauteing/braising department, currently have, and use regularly, 3 cast iron skillets (8, 10, & 12"), 3 anodized non-stick fry pans (8, 10, & 12"), 2 stainless tri-ply saute pans (3 Qt & 6 Qt), and my 5.5 Qt enameled dutch oven gets used to fry, sear, and braise from time to time. Given this setup, how could or would a clad stainless fry pan expand my cooking? I don't want to spend away money I could use on a copper saucier :) , but I would like to know if I might find these fry pans useful.

Thanks so much!

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  1. I believe that with your existing 3 skillets, 3 nonstick fry pans and 2 saute pans, you probably do not need stainless steel fry pans.

    2 Replies
    1. re: khuzdul

      That's what I was figuring, but every short list of essential cookware has stainless fry pans on it, so I was wondering if I am missing something.

      1. re: jljohn

        They are certainly not "essential" and their appearance on somebody's short list merely reflects their popularity. They are a safe choice whan making a recommended list for a kitchen, but some people will prefer other choices.

        Don't worry about equipment in the abstract. Ask whether ther is something you want to cook for which you feel your present equipment is adequate.

    2. Currently, your cast iron skillets can handle extreme high heat, but not good at heat response. Your nonstick anodized aluminum fry pans can offer good heat response and even heating surface, but should not be used for high temperature cooking.

      A stainless steel triply fry pans can offer something the other two cannot. Not that it is needed, but it is different. It can handle relatively high heat and it can provide a good even heating surface. What is most distinguishing aspect is that food stick easier to stainless steel surface and can easily create fond and bits, which is excellent for deglazing sauces.

      6 Replies
      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

        Thanks for that answer!

        Since I have the 3 Qt Saute (10.5" across) and the 6 Qt Saute (about 13.5" across) in clad stainless which share these same responsiveness and high heat capabilities, when would the flared sides of the fry pan create an advantage over the straight sides of the saute pans (in a context where I would also want high heat and good responsiveness)?

        1. re: jljohn

          "when would the flared sides of the fry pan create an advantage over the straight sides of the saute pans (in a context where I would also want high heat and good responsiveness)?"

          Oh I see. I didn't pay better attention to your saute pans. In this case, I think you should be fine. A fry pan shape is better for say making omelets or eggs or others where you want to get to get under the foods to flip or to slide the foods out, but you won't need high heat for these foods (eggs, omelets..), so your nonstick fry pans are perfect for those.

          Some would argue that a fry pan give better evaporation speed than a saute pan, but I think that is really getting down to minor details.

          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

            The lists you're referring to generally assume that someone is starting from scratch: if you have two or three stainless pans, you don't need anything else. Stainless frying pans are great because they can do anything, even if they're not the very best choice for everything. They're low maintenance, and they're basically indestructible. If you already have 8 (!) frying pan-like items that you're comfortable with, you really don't need any more.

            1. re: pothead

              :) I assume you are talking to jijohn and not me.

              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                Yeah, I can tell you all about the ins and outs of different types of cookware, but have not yet mastered the complicated technical art of the "reply" button. Sorry.

              2. re: pothead

                Yeah, it's a lot. For me and my wife, the 3 Qt saute and and 10" each of non-stick and CI would probably be just fine, but with 3 kids, I am cooking for between one and five every day. And, I often cook for up to about 12, so the number of pans is almost necessitated (like anything is really necessitated!) by the varied sizes of the groups I am cooking for.

                Thanks for the help so far. I really don't have a felt need for a stainless fry pan. I just wanted to be sure I was not missing some key thing that could be done so much better with one, and you are all confirming that I am not.

        2. The stainless steel sauté pans you already have would serve the same basic need as stainless fry pans.

          1 Reply
          1. re: rasputina

            Except that you can't flip the contents of a sauté pan as you can a fry pan with a rounded edge.

          2. I bought American Kitchen cookware which is completely all stainless steel. I don't have a problem with sticking as I coat them with a thin layer or oil before using them and only have to do them again every couple of months. Do not use spray on oil like PAM. It doesn't work using that type of product. I just take Olive Oil and after the pots are initially washed and ready to use, then I apply the oil. With stainless you don't need to use high heat and med. heat is about as high as you' ll need to use. Just love these pots and pans. Don't trust the non stick finishes based on prior purchases over the years.

            1. You have got what you need. It's a darn good selection of skillets and pans. The stainless pans are ideal for searing and making pan sauces from fond. But I can't imagine that the addition of a "glad stainless fry pan" will provide any benefit, since you already have a great collection.