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Dec 28, 2011 11:47 PM

Tips on using stainless steel cookware

I am sure this site is full of wisdom and information on tips for both using and cleaning stainless steel cookware, and I am hoping some of you will either repeat some of the information or point me in the right direction.

Tonight I decided it was time to replace/upgrade all of our pots and pans. I found a 15 piece All Clad set Tri-Ply plus the lasagna pan at Williams Sonoma for $899 for all 16 pieces. It seemed like a deal I could not pass up (the clerk said that they were discontinuing carrying the line as they are going to focus on the d5 line that they carry).

This is a significant change for my wife and I, as previously we have been using primarily non-stick pots and pans. The clerk gave me a few suggestions including:

- heat the pan a little and then add a small amount of oil/butter before cooking
- do not use Pam, as it will make the pans more "sticky"
- use bar keepers friend to help clean
- cook at a lower setting on the gas range than what we previously used, as the pans are more efficient

Would welcome any and all other tips or suggestions as I hope someday to pass these down to my kids (which hopefully is not going to be anytime soon).



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  1. The Williams Sonoma clerk was helpful in giving you the four suggestions. Of these pointers, the fourth one is partially incorrect. It is true that many people do suggest to cook at a lower setting for stainless steel cladded cookware (not that it cannot on the higher setting). The reasoning, however, is not because it is more efficient. From an energy transfer argument, your nonstick-aluminum cookware probably do a better or equal job at energy transfer. Next time try to boil a cup of water in your old nonstick pot vs the new All Clad pot. The old nonstick pot won't do any slower.

    Obviously, advices can be as long as pages and as short as a sentence. The so called "hot pan, cold oil" is a standard advice, although it has been argued if it is really hot pan cold oil or hot pan hot oil. Regardless, the pan has to be heated up before the foods enter to reduce food sticking.

    The following is a few short and yet helpful introductory videos;

    I understand these are very general advices, so if you have additional specific questions, please let us know.

    *Edited* Apparently, now you have to pay to watch the above videos... I will see if I can find some other good videos.

    1. I recently picked up some fully clad stainless steel frying pans (All-Clad, de Buyer Affinity, and Le Creuset Tri-Ply) because I'm interested in teaching myself how to make pan sauces and pan gravy. Based on my very limited experience so far, I'd like to share the following tips:

      1) Let the pan containing the oil/butter get nice and hot before putting in the food. (I use a non-contact infrared thermometer and wait until it reads 200C, which is equal to about 400F.)

      2) Using a mixture of 1 part olive oil to 1 part butter seems to prevent browning/scorching as the pan heats up.

      3) Don't freak out and try to rip the food off the pan if it seems to be sticking after you put it in. Simply leave the food undisturbed for a minute or two. It will form a nice browned crust and come loose of its own accord.

      4) When you remove the cooked food, there will be some brownish/blackish stuff stuck to the bottom of the pan. This stuff is valuable! You can make a delicious pan gravy by pouring off the excess oil/fat, adding some stock, turning the heat down to a simmer, sprinkling in some flour, and scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spatula until you get a nice rich brown gravy. Yum! (BTW, this also gets the pan more than 90% clean.)

      5) If you soak the pan in warm soapy water while you're eating, it should clean up with just a sponge and some dish soap. When needed, a light scrub with some Bar Keeper's Friend will make the pan look brand new again.

      1. Some quick tips:

        Do not use anything higher than medium-high heat (unless boiling water);
        Don't be shy with your oil and let it get good and hot before adding your food (the oil should shimmer/ripple);
        For searing meats make sure that you dry the meat first;

        For clean up Bar Keeper's Friend works great. Also adding a little water to the pan while it's still hot will help with the clean up.

        1. It is very easy to use Teflon nonstick cookware. There is almost no learning curve to it. For example, you can put a cold meat onto a Teflon pan, you can flip the meat over anytime you like, there is no requirement for adding oil, and almost everything come off with a wipe -- worse with a water soak....etc

          There are numerous little things to learn for stainless steel cookware. The major ones have been listed thus far, but don't be surprised that you find something else along the way.

          I have to make an earnest warning. Some people are able to make the transition from nonstick Teflon cookware to stainless steel surface cookware, and love the stainless steel cookware much more. However, some people hate stainless steel cookware and eventually go back to nonstick cookware, and this is the truth.

          It is true that $899 for 16 All Clad pieces is a good price, but it is also true that it is a lot of money if you end up not using them. I wonder if you should just borrow one from a friend or a neighbors, or even go to the nearest Walmart or HomeGoods and grab a $10-15 stainless steel fry pan and try it -- just to see if you can deal with the stainless steel cookware.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

            There is no reason not to own both. I would never use Teflon for meat (please don't invite me over if you do) but I do for pancakes. I use stainless to saute veggies. Etc. You get the picture.

          2. Hi, Mark:

            Congratulations on your purchase.

            The clerk's first 3 bulleted points are sensible, but #4 is not, unless the clerk has cooked in your old pans on your hobs. The certainty is that however thick the A-C is, nearly a full millimeter of that thickness is the inner and outer SS. Therefore, if your old pans are Teflon-coated aluminum, the probability is that the A-C is *less* efficient. But you will learn from experience what your ideal settings will be. The good news is that the A-C is well-nigh indestructible, and you will be able to do many more things in it than you were able to do with the Teflon (e.g., integral sauces and gravies and true high-heat searing).

            As for your progeny, once you become an accomplished chef, your "Babe Magnetism" will probably hasten their appearance as heirs.