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What material for skillet?

lamb_da_calculus Sep 21, 2012 01:40 PM

I already have a nonstick skillet that I use for eggs and delicate stuff like fish and a stock pot that I mostly use as a mixing bowl. I think the next item to round out this group would be a skillet that can withstand heavy temperatures - for searing meat, stir-frying, etc.

The top suggestion for this seems to be cast iron. I'm reluctant to go that route for a couple of reasons. First, I'm a college student living in a dorm environment. I'm going to be sharing a (big, but not that big) kitchen with a few hundred people. I don't really want to go through the whole process of seasoning (and the accompanying smoke) and risk shutting down the kitchen. Second, I live on the sixth floor and am not wild about the idea of lugging something that heavy back and forth.

So would something like this be the logical choice?

http://amzn.com/B00213JO7Y

I'm guessing it won't be able to go in the oven, but since it's a communal kitchen I'm not going to be braising or anything in there anyway.

Also, while I'm at it, is there any such thing as a rigid silpat? I want something to roast vegetables with and, for the above reasons, am trying to keep the number of things I buy down (ordinarily I assume people just lay a flexible silpat on a cookie sheet?).

Thanks!

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  1. Chemicalkinetics RE: lamb_da_calculus Sep 21, 2012 02:44 PM

    <a skillet that can withstand heavy temperatures>

    Cast iron or carbon steel -- if you don't plan to do a lot of deglazing with acidic solution.

    <So would something like this be the logical choice?>

    Actually, it will work. The stainless steel surface will make it prone to food sticking, but it will work for sure.

    <I'm guessing it won't be able to go in the oven>

    Why not? The Cuisinart skillet should be fine in an oven.

    1. g
      GH1618 RE: lamb_da_calculus Sep 21, 2012 03:18 PM

      I like my carbon steel pan for searing meat, but it's almost as heavy as an equivalent sized cast iron pan.

      This looks like a practical choice for a dorm environment, because it's so inexpensive you won't have to worry about what happens to it if someone else uses it. The only alternative seems to be a plain aluminum skillet like those used by most restaurants.

      1. g
        GH1618 RE: lamb_da_calculus Sep 21, 2012 03:20 PM

        SILPAT® is a brand name, so there's only one kind.

        1. twyst RE: lamb_da_calculus Sep 21, 2012 03:23 PM

          "Also, while I'm at it, is there any such thing as a rigid silpat? I want something to roast vegetables with and, for the above reasons, am trying to keep the number of things I buy down (ordinarily I assume people just lay a flexible silpat on a cookie sheet?)."

          Just get a cookie sheet and some parchment paper, there are VERY few applications where you would really need a silpat to roast veggies, and Im sure you wont be doing any of them in a dorm kitchen!

          1 Reply
          1. re: twyst
            lynnlato RE: twyst Sep 22, 2012 04:03 PM

            I am NOT a fan of the SILPAT. I'm with twyst, use parchment paper, if anything at all, to roast veggies.

          2. j
            jaykayen RE: lamb_da_calculus Sep 21, 2012 03:37 PM

            You can season without smoke.

            You really want tri-ply if you want your pan hot hot hot, or else the stuff on the edge that does not have the disc bottom starts to burn. And yes it can go in the oven. But it is more expensive.... if you can't afford it, the one you linked is fine.

            2 Replies
            1. re: jaykayen
              c
              Cam14 RE: jaykayen Sep 21, 2012 09:59 PM

              For dorm use you could pick up one of the cheaper De Buyer Steel Crepe pans. Sold at places like Sur la Table for around $25. You can season with potato peels on the range top, so don't have to worry about the odors of oven seasoning. Can be used in the oven as well. Better for high heat searing with less clean up than stainless IMO.

              1. re: Cam14
                g
                GH1618 RE: Cam14 Sep 21, 2012 10:58 PM

                A crêpe pan is a poor choice, because of the low sides. Here is a general-purpose steel pan of similar size to the Cuisinart shown:

                http://www.foodservicewarehouse.com/m...

                This is a practical choice — cheap and indestructible.

            2. wekick RE: lamb_da_calculus Sep 22, 2012 05:40 AM

              When I lived in the dorm, I had an old, already seasoned 10 inch cast iron skillet. I cooked eggs in it every morning. I cooked them to a certain point on the stove and they finished going back to my room. I liked that the handle was shorter. No worries about even heat as we had electric burners that fit the pan. You could bake in it and cook about anything in it. It kept stuff warm for a little bit too. It was the only pan I had.

              1. j
                John Francis RE: lamb_da_calculus Sep 22, 2012 01:54 PM

                The Cuisinart stainless steel skillet should do what you want it to. The encapsulated aluminum in the base distributes the heat evenly; the stainless surface is good for creating fond, bits of the food you're cooking that stick to the pan and are deglazed (with water, stock, wine, whatever) to make sauce or gravy. I have a Cuisinart skillet, not this model, and the metal handle is quite comfortable in the hand and stays cool as the pan heats up. Because the handle is metal, the skillet is oven-proof, but of course you need a potholder or glove to take it out of the oven.

                1 Reply
                1. re: John Francis
                  j
                  John Francis RE: John Francis Sep 23, 2012 05:06 AM

                  Second thought. If you'll be cooking just for yourself, a 9" skillet may be large enough. But most home cooks use larger skillets. I cook mainly for myself, and my stainless steel skillet with a disc base is 11", and my everyday anodized aluminum skillet is 12".

                  There's been discussion whether a skillet with a disc base is more likely to burn food or cook it badly because the heat-diffusing metal isn't continued up the sides of the skillet. Personally this has never happened to me, as I don't fill the skillet that full with solid food that could burn or overcook. I have sometimes burned food on the bottom of the pan when distracted and not paying attention, so now I just let the phone ring while I'm sautéing.

                2. Sid Post RE: lamb_da_calculus Sep 22, 2012 03:53 PM

                  My De Buyer Mineral Fry Pan will do what you want. It was $30 at Tuesday Morning. I really like it and use it for a lot of things besides frying and cooking eggs.

                  If you want stainless steel, you want a "Tri-Ply" skillet not a disc bottom one. Tri-Ply will carry heat up the sides so your food cooks evenly. Disc cookware can burn on the sides on a burner that is too big or over cook in the center while leaving the stuff heaped against the sides underdone on one too small.

                  Try-Ply or Carbon steel are the easy choices. In my case, I used Lodge cast iron in college after trying some other things that didn't work well.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: Sid Post
                    g
                    GH1618 RE: Sid Post Sep 22, 2012 04:01 PM

                    This is for a college student. I expect there will be plenty of things to be concerned with other than the nuances of cooking with tri-ply. What's needed is inexpensive and durable, and I think the OP made a suitable choice in that regard. There will be plenty of time to outfit a gourmet kitchen in years ahead.

                    1. re: GH1618
                      Sid Post RE: GH1618 Sep 22, 2012 07:30 PM

                      "What's needed is inexpensive and durable, and I think the OP made a suitable choice in that regard. There will be plenty of time to outfit a gourmet kitchen in years ahead."

                      I own a Cuisinart Chef's Classic Stainless Skillet and several companion pans from a prepackaged set. I also own a Calphalon Tri-Ply 10" "open" skillet which was $5 less then the Cuisinart skillet shown.

                      Why pay $5 extra for an inferior pan? Heck, with a 20% off coupon from BB&B, even with sales tax you can buy an equivalent to my Calphalon for the same or a little less money. Sure there is a lot of other issues to consider but, again why pay more for an inferior pan?

                      1. re: Sid Post
                        g
                        GH1618 RE: Sid Post Sep 22, 2012 09:06 PM

                        You got a good deal on your Calphalon pan. Macy's has it at $45, which is half list. Obviously, no one here can account for whatever deals might have been available somewher, sometime. The Calphalon is 10" and there is no 9" available (there is an 8"). I happen to find a 9" pan a useful size, myself, but it's a matter of personal choice. As for which pan is "better" I have no opinion. Any sturdy 9" or "10" pan will do the job, and the OP should probably get the one that feels best at an affordable price. Handles are important to many people.

                    2. re: Sid Post
                      b
                      bbqJohn RE: Sid Post Sep 22, 2012 05:59 PM

                      "Disc cookware can burn on the sides on a burner that is too big or over cook in the center while leaving the stuff heaped against the sides underdone on one too small."

                      Also depends on the heat source... more so on gas flame where a small disk bottom pan placed on a larger gas burner and the burner is placed on a high setting.. otherwise most other heat sources should be OK especially the electric coil type. The disk bottom is intended to distribute heat evenly. I imagine a thin bottom will not cook evenly but most disk bottoms should be thick enough to evely distribute heat especially with slower electric heat element.

                    3. e
                      ellabee RE: lamb_da_calculus Sep 23, 2012 08:29 AM

                      There's a skillet on the big auction site right now for less than $30. that would be perfect for you, and has a good shot at lasting beyond college: a 10 inch All-Clad Master Chef (original version, with thicker aluminum than MC2). Would cook far more evenly than the disk-bottom pan, is lightweight for lugging up stairs, and has the virtue of green-ness (re-use). Just a thought.

                      1. lamb_da_calculus RE: lamb_da_calculus Sep 27, 2012 03:43 AM

                        I ended up buying the skillet I linked, but I did read all of the comments, and I appreciate all of your help (especially the disk/tri-ply mini-discussion).

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