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Feb 19, 2014 07:05 AM

pan for infrequent use

I'm looking for a pan for my girlfriend, she hardly ever has time to cook and we don't live together, but both of us would like her to have something at her place that we can use to get a nice sear on meat, but is nonstick enough for fish fillets. Carbon steel would be my choice, but as it will only be used a few times a month at most, and we live in a high humidity climate, I'm a bit worried it will rust all the time and be annoying to maintain. Stainless/clad is not really an option because of the learning curve involved and the lack of time she has for that.

is there any other type of material i have forgotten about? This will mainly be used for searing meat, fish, potatoes, pancakes, crepes and the like. Ideally it shouldn't be too heavy. No nonstick coatings as she already has nonstick pans and we don't like how it browns.

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  1. Maybe a hard anodized aluminum--not the kind that is coated with non-stick but the original "commercial" kind.

    1 Reply
    1. re: pdub314

      Couldn't agree more. I have several old original Calphalon hard anodized aluminum pans that have been used to death and remain in perfect condition. Foods sear beautifully in them and although not non-stick, they clean up easily with Barkeeper's Friend. I love these pans, but nevertheless, for eggs and crepes nothing beats nonstick imho.

    2. If you kept a CI or CS pan well seasoned and oiled and stored properly It should not rust the only alternative I can think of is that Swiss Diamond stuff - which is supposed to be better non-stick - I have not used it in years(a friend had some) but it is supposed to be able to sear and be non stick, I remember it being a nice pan(thanks to the diamond$!) it is pricy for non-stick but is quality product if you are thinking about buying one pan it may be worth a look - I would prefer to sear on Iron or even Anodized but this may be a good compromise.

      1. I don't think that you will have problems with cast iron or carbon steel pans. I've left cast iron skillets unused for months at a time (while on vacation, moving, or getting excited about other pans) without any issues with rust.

        Your fears of rust are overwrought. Lots of things are made out of non-stainless iron alloys and don't rust away. There is a thriving secondary market for vintage cast iron--some of which has been neglected for decades or longer.

        8 Replies
        1. re: Cynic2701

          The reason I'm worried about rust is my own cast iron/carbon steel tends to do it, and i use it more frequently than this pan will be used.

          1. re: Sirrith

            Interesting. The only other alternative that doesn't have the "traditional" non-stick coating is maybe one of the "green pan" style pans.

            You could maybe look around for a low and wide dutch oven (enamel coating) that might work for you.

            1. re: Cynic2701

              Enamel is a possible one, but how does it fare with more delicate things like eggs and fish? Ive never tried cooking those in eci before.

              1. re: Sirrith

                I've seared fish just fine it before, though I have never cooked eggs in one.

                I'd offer to fry up a couple eggs tonight to test it out, but, sadly, my dutch oven just chipped out (looks like a manufacturing defect to me) and I have to get a new one.

                1. re: Cynic2701

                  Bad luck about the chipping... Hope it gets replaced without any hassle!

                  Does fish not stick and break up on enamel?

                  1. re: Sirrith

                    I let the pan get hot and sear it with a little more oil than I think it needs. It seems to work fine, though the real difficulty is in getting underneath the fish with a utensil, since my dutch oven has high sides.

                    This is compounded by the fact that you don't want to use metal utensils on enamel (or at least that's my rule of thumb) and I've not found an offset wooden spatula yet.

                    I've mostly done it with orange roughy, which does have a bit better "cohesiveness" to the fish. Again, I'd offer to get something really flaky and cook in it, but not until I get anew one.

                    1. re: Cynic2701

                      Well we got the LC grill pan today and gave it a go. I'm quite impressed actually, not much sticking at all, we cooked fish, zucchini, pumpkin, short rib, and pork. lovely grill marks. I don't see any advantage my bare cast iron grill pan has over the ECI one other than durability.

            2. re: Sirrith

              +1 for CS/CI. I live in Tampa and have no problems with rust. I do dry my pans on the stovetop and make sure there's a light coating of oil before storing them, every time. I don't oil them every time I use them, but I don't completely remove the oil, either. Could that be the difference?

              Still, I can't see why rust would develop on a pan unless parts of it have lost their seasoning, in which case a quick oil+heat application is the easy remedy.

          2. Calphalon Unison non-stick/sear has a different coating that gives you a sear,too. Just a thought. Check their web site for some good deals.

            2 Replies
            1. re: redstickboy

              This. The Calphalon unison non-stick sear pans are spectacular for exactly what you're describing. I was shocked at how effective the pan I got is and really use it a ton. It's not that expensive, either. Amazon has great prices on them.

              1. re: ccbweb

                Ill take a look at those then, thanks for the suggestion.

            2. Carbon steel and cast iron cookware is still an viable choice. How infrequent are we talking about? For the longest time I have been using my carbon steel pan and neglect my cast iron skillet for over a year, and it is still fine.

              4 Replies
              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                I guess maybe twice a month or so on average. I think we may end up just going for a CS pan paired with an ECI grill pan (she thinks its cute, can't argue with that), the CS ones are so cheap it doesn't really matter what happens to it anyway...

                1. re: Sirrith

                  Twice a month. You are fine. Don't worry about it.

                  I do have two suggestions/hints to reducing the chance of rust. Before storage (after cleaning/washing), wipe the pan dry and heat the pan up. By heating up the pan, you really remove the last drop of water. In addition, do not over wash your pan before storage. Don't try to use a bunch of detergent or soap to clean the pan. A little bit of oil residue actually will protect the pan.

                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                    Wipe and heat for sure, then I'd add: wipe a bit of veg oil all over the hot pan, while still on the heat. Let it stay hot for a few mins. Wipe off excess oil - but some will remain as seasoning. Let cool. Store. Less chance of rust, plus a bit more seasoned. At least that is what I do ; ) To all: Let me know if this is off base...

                    1. re: danlind3

                      Very good suggestion for an extra layer of oil before storage -- especially long term storage. I am fairly lazy and do not wipe it with oil unless I know I won't touch the cookware for a year.