What material for skillet?
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?
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?).
<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.
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.
"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!
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.