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Force Blue or Mineral B? Skillet or Crepe pan?

After owning a de Buyer FB crepe pan for 3 months, and loving it, I want to buy another, but am on the fence about whether to go for another FB or spring for the thicker Mineral B. I'm also not sure if I want another crepe pan or a skillet. I'm looking to replace my heavy Tramontina mid-size cast aluminum non-stick. Here's what I have and what I use it for:

8" Force Blue crepe - single egg, crepes, single grilled cheese, 2-egg omelet
8" Tramontina NS - Frying taco shells and not much else
10" Calphalon Tri-Ply skillet - 2 eggs, sautéing chicken, pork and beef, and for pan sauces.
10" Tramontina NS - Hash Browns, 2 eggs, not much else.
12" Calphalon TP skillet - Sautéing or roasting anything too big to fit in the smaller 10"
12 Tramontina NS - Sautéing fish, stir frying, multiple grilled sandwiches

I've also got a 14" Calphalon TP stainless pan with 4" sides that I use mostly for frying large batches of chicken, tortilla strips, etc... anything that I want to deep fry.

I want to use the new pan for sautéing fish, cooking multiple eggs/omelets, for hash browns, burgers and grilled sandwiches. I'm wondering mostly about the responsiveness/heat retention properties of the thinner Force Blue vs Mineral B. Things are further complicated right now because I'm using a smooth top electric range. I'll be switching to induction later. I'm thinking crepe pan rather than skillet, because I've got the stainless for pan sauces, but again, I'm on the fence.

Will the FB handle burgers and give me the sear I want? Will Mineral B respond fast enough when I pull it off the heat if it's too hot for my eggs? Which would you recommend, FB or MB, crepe or skillet? Thanks!

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  1. Mineral B saute is probably overkill for what you're trying to do, but it will give you many more options down the road.

    As to your questions: FB will handle burgers, but it's not meant for extremely high heat and longer cooking times so warping might become an issue. It doesn't retain heat as well as mineral B. Mineral B takes less time than FB but more than a cast iron to cool. That said, I don't think it's as good an option for eggs as FB because eggs cook best at less than searing heat. Even better, do the eggs on a crepe pan.

    I highly recommend the DeBuyer Cheff's Country Saute pan for versatility. It can do everything from wok replacement to burgers/meat searing, to fish cooking. The side's are a bit taller than the traditional saute pans.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Rigmaster

      Regarding your DeBuyer Country Saute pan...what size do you have and if you don't mind, could you measure the flat bottom and tell me that measurement?
      I have a 10 and 12 inch French skillet but have been thinking of adding the Country pan as well.
      Thanks

      1. re: Rigmaster

        < Mineral B takes less time than FB but more than a cast iron to cool. >

        That must be a typo.

        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

          cooling time will mainly be a function of mass. You can also speed up cooling by setting the pan on a cold metal surface.

          1. re: paulj

            Yes, but a heavier and thicker Mineral B should take more time to cool than a Force Blue -- so long they are subjected to the same treatment.

            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

              I agree, and is one of the reasons I'm on the fence. I've ruined many a meal because I couldn't bring down the heat fast enough on my electric range, even when sliding the pan to a cool spot. 2 years on I'm still learning it's quirks, especially since each burner is different. I miss gas cooking <sigh>

      2. Keep in mind that the lyonnaise style has high flared sides, so a 9.5" rim diameter has a 6.5" flat base, basically the same as my shallower 8" skillets.

        1 Reply
        1. re: paulj

          Good point! I just measured and found my 11" SS has an 8" base and the 10" NS has a 7 1/2" base. If I go for the skillet, I'll be sure to order a size up to get the true medium I'm looking for. Thanks for giving me the measurements.

        2. 9" flat bottom, 4" sides, just under 12.5" at the top. I have a 14" regular mineral B saute that's a bit bigger, but it's so big I have to store it downstairs. That monster just barely fits in my oven for stove-oven combinations. It's also been largely made irrelevant by the Cheff's saute.

          The Cheff's saute has been the single best purchase I've made of any carbon steel cookware. Was hard to find but "country chef debuyer" search brings up vendors who sell it. Should be about $100 for the 12.5" model.

          1. <I'm wondering mostly about the responsiveness/heat retention properties of the thinner Force Blue vs Mineral B. >

            Force Blue, being slightly thinner, will have better heat responsiveness, while Mineral will have better heat retention. :) Sorry, you cannot have both.

            <Will the FB handle burgers and give me the sear I want? Will Mineral B respond fast enough when I pull it off the heat if it's too hot for my eggs? Which would you recommend, FB or MB, crepe or skillet?>

            Force Blue will handle burgers just fine, but Mineral will be slightly better due to better heat capacity -- therefore better heat retention. However, the Force Blue will be more responsive. It will heat up and cool down faster. So in this respect, the Force Blue is better if you want to cook an egg shortly after.

            I was reading a post about metal warping. If you are concern about your carbon steel pan warping, then the Mineral is better.

            19 Replies
            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

              <Force Blue, being slightly thinner, will have better heat responsiveness, while Mineral will have better heat retention. :) Sorry, you cannot have both.>

              But I WANT both! I know, I know. Hence my fence-sitting.

              <...Force Blue is better if you want to cook an egg shortly after.>

              I tend to only use a pan once during a given meal, can't see that being an issue. I'll follow-up a sauté with a pan sauce, but that shouldn't present a cool-down problem.

              But that brings up another thing I hadn't considered. I'm so used to SS for pan sauces and have only used my FB crepe pan for eggs, crepes and grilled sandwiches - will I be able to tell if my fond has burned? I'm thinking of the dark pan color, not an issue with SS.

              <If you are concern about your carbon steel pan warping, then the Mineral is better.>

              I hadn't thought of warping either. The highest heat I use is medium-high, which is pretty darn hot on my largest burner and is the temp I used to boil off the factory coating on my FB crepe pan. Since seasoning,also at medium high, it hasn't been heated above medium and it's nice and flat.

              1. re: DuffyH

                <will I be able to tell if my fond has burned?>

                I agree with you. It will be tougher to see the progression of the fond in a carbon steel or cast iron pan. You can do it by "feel" and experience, but the shiny silver color of stainless steel makes it much easier in comparison. On top of that, many people use wine to deglaze the fond. That won't work well for a carbon steel pan because wine will eat up the seasoning. If you use stock or water for deglazing, then it is fine for the pan.

                < it's nice and flat.>

                You are probably fine then. I probably worried too much.

                By the way, you didn't ask, but I am going to throw this out. The Mineral and Mineral B lines were launched to replaced the Carbone Plus line. In most aspects, the Carbone Plus line is the same as the two Mineral lines. The biggest differences are that the Mineral handles have the colored silicone/plastic button, while the Carbone Plus handles do not. In addition, the Mineral lines have better packages. Because the Carbone Plus is being phased out, their prices are cheaper. Not recommend it, but something to think about. Many people, like petek, actually prefer the Carbone Plus pans:

                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6877...

                Here is one site I found which sells Carbone Plus:

                http://www.bakedeco.com/detail.asp?id...

                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  Chem..that's a great price for those pans.I'd jump on that real quick.

                  1. re: petek

                    bah, it was a nice price until I tried to have it shipped to me :/

                    Sub Total:
                    $26.95
                    Shipping:
                    $118.40
                    Order total:
                    $145.35

                    1. re: TeRReT

                      Oh good point. I didn't check on the shipping price. Obviously, you live much further than we are, but it is a good idea for everyone to check on the shipping fee.

                      1. re: TeRReT

                        <bah, it was a nice price until I tried to have it shipped to me :/>

                        Yikes!!!! Where are you getting it shipped to..Antarctica?? :D

                        1. re: petek

                          I never understand how shipping price can various a lot. I bought a hand hammered wok from China. The wok was probably $40. The shipping was $30, and it wasn't some overnight shipping. It was a slow shipping option because it took a long time to get to me, like 3-4 weeks. I bought a few knives here and there from Japan, and I have seen shipping fee approximately $10-15.

                          My guess is that bakedeco wants to use some expensive shipping options for shipping to Japan since it worries about getting lost.

                        2. re: petek

                          Oddly, the Carbone fry pan is not on sale. I was hoping to score something to replace my big Calphalon fryer when we switch to induction. But still, I thought the price was ok, so went to check the depth. According to deBuyer, the 50cm (almost 20") pan is only 2 1/4" deep. Nerts!

                          1. re: DuffyH

                            I have that large pan. Though the sides aren't as high, the outward angle leaves plenty of room to avoid spatter because most non-commercial cooking surfaces don't have burners that go edge-to-edge.

                        3. re: Chemicalkinetics

                          <It will be tougher to see the progression of the fond in a carbon steel or cast iron pan.> <On top of that, many people use wine to deglaze the fond.>

                          And I'm one of them. I don't know why I keep forgetting that wine is acidic, but I do. And with my crappy range, it's really critical that I keep an eye on my fond. That settles half my question. I'll go with the crepe pan and keep using stainless for sauces. Now I've just got to decide between response and retention.

                          Thanks, Chem, very helpful reminder.

                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                            Chem, I consistently ignore the rules in and deglaze with wine in steel pans, and they still seem to have ample seasoning and work fine, but, hey, I have also made old fashioned spaghetti sauce in CI.

                            1. re: tim irvine

                              Tim,

                              I have done it a few times, and it seems ok, but what I am told is that it cannot be done too often. There are two reasons against deglazing with wine on a carbon steel pan. The first one is the seasoning surface which we have discussed. The other is taste. Some people do not like deglazing on a cast iron or carbon steel pan because of the metallic taste. You know me. I rarely and barely taste any metal from these cookware, but I have read many people complaining about this, so I can only assume that I have a less sensitive tongue and nose for metal. Or that the metallic taste does not offend me.

                              Do you happen to taste metal in your deglazed sauce? Or are you as insensitive as I am? :)

                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                Tim and Chem,

                                This is quite helpful. Truly. I have a really sensitive nose that amplifies any 'off' tastes in food, so don't think I want to go anywhere near CS with wine or tomatoes.

                                So tonight as I was making stroganoff in my 12" SS skillet, I mulled over the dishes I tend to cook that might benefit from the non-stick properties of a CS skillet and realized that stir frying is it. I want the bigger CS for fish, too, but I don't do pan sauces for fish, so the crepe pan will work fine for that.

                                I hate single-purpose pans and I'm thinking that a CS flat-bottom wok might be a good choice for pan frying. I usually pull out my big, honking 14" pan for that, because I like surface area. But it does take a LOT of oil to fill that pan. Here's my query - would the acids in stir fry sauce affect the seasoning on the wok? I'm thinking that since the sauce doesn't spend more than 30-60 seconds in the pan, it shouldn't prove a problem, especially if I season the heck out it with many batches of tortillas, fries and onion rings first. Opinions?

                                1. re: DuffyH

                                  <I hate single-purpose pans and I'm thinking that a CS flat-bottom wok might be a good choice for pan frying>

                                  I do like carbon steel wok a lot, but what exactly you want to pan fry in a wok? It will be very tough to pan fry large items in a wok. The flat surface of a flat bottom wok is actually smaller than a typical fry pan.

                                  <Here's my query - would the acids in stir fry sauce affect the seasoning on the wok?>

                                  It depends the acidic level of the sauce. For most typical sauces, no. However, I once was making the "sweet and sour sauce" (I think) in a wok. One of the items is vinegar. Instead of adding other components first and mixed with the vinegar, I added the vinegar first, and stirred in the heat wok for awhile before added other components. After all the cooking was done, I then realized that seasoning at the bottom was gone. Since then, I have tried the same recipe, but added oil and other components before the vinegar, and I have not had the same problem.

                                  Now, looking back, there were a few things acted against me. First, the wok was relatively new (1 week?) with a new seasoning. Second, the wok was plenty hot. The seasoning dissolves faster in high temperature than in low temperature. Finally, of course, I directly added the vinegar without anything else.

                                  It really isn't the end of the world. The seasoning was easily build up again. As for your question, I don't think it should be a problem for the typical stir fry sauce, but you won't know for sure until you try it.

                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                    <I do like carbon steel wok a lot, but what exactly you want to pan fry in a wok? It will be very tough to pan fry large items in a wok. The flat surface of a flat bottom wok is actually smaller than a typical fry pan.>

                                    I was thinking more of deep frying, really. Things that float. What about the FB Country Pan for the same double duty?

                                    http://www.finestcookware.com/catalog...

                                    The 14" size has a 10 1/4" bottom and 3 1/2" sides. That's the same area as my current 12" NS that I use for stir fry and to sauté fish. That's plenty of room to stir fry, and with the tall sides I can crank out plenty of other fried stuff.

                                    1. re: DuffyH

                                      <I was thinking more of deep frying, really.>

                                      Oh deep fry. Yeah a wok is very good for deep fry for small portion because it requires less oil. For deeping a lot of food, then the advantage slowly goes away.

                                      I have seen the Debuyer country pan and have used similar pan (not DeBuyer) before. It is a nice pan design. You can think of it like something in between a wok and a fry pan.

                                      There are pros and cons of course. The good things about taller side are that you will have less oil splattering, easily to toss foods in the pan, can deep fry. The bad things are that the tall side makes it more difficult for spatula to get in. It will work find for say turning vegetables around, but it will be tougher to turn an egg, for example -- because your spatula/turn handle will hit the high side.

                                      Overall, I think it is a good design pan. It is just that everything has its gives and takes.

                            2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                              Love my Carbon Plus pans, I don't have the Mineral because they came out later than when I bought my pans. I think you can still get the ones I own, as I just checked out the website where I purchased a few of mine. Good service from this site when I ordered a few years ago. Since CK mentioned the line is being phased out, I'm not sure what is available:

                              http://www.finestcookware.com/catalog...

                              1. re: breadchick

                                Thanks for the link, breadchick. I just grabbed the 10 1/4" Carbone crepe pan for $26.10 + $10 shipping. I'm bummed they don't have anything larger, but I'll take a bargain like that any day.

                                They've also got the big 14" Force Blue country pan for $66.10 with no extra shipping. Do you think that would have enough heat retention for frying?