Saturday, December 21, 2013

Stephanie's Kitchen Drawer: Stainless Steel Pots & Pans

Pots and pans, I have used a lot of sets of pots and pans and used them to the end of their lives.  I have used non-stick cookware, both traditional Teflon and ceramic, I have used Stainless Steel, aluminum, and I have used cast iron.  Every cookware has a purpose, each has attributes that lend to being the best for certain applications.  My main cookware is the above set.  I bought it at Costco, it is the Kirkland Signature 18/10 Stainless Steel set.  The set can be seen here.  What is stainless steel you ask?  WiseGeek says "Stainless steel is an alloy composed of two to three metals; steel, chromium and in some instances, nickel. The chromium in the alloy prevents or reduces the formation of rust in stainless steel. Higher quality stainless steel has nickel as part of the alloy along with chromium. Nickel works with chromium to increase stainless steel’s resistance to corrosion and rusting.

Stainless steel is a favorite of many cooks because it is a non-reactive metal. This means that it can be used to cook foods with heavy alkaline or acidic content without the stainless steel reacting to and changing the taste and appearance of the food. The non-reactive nature also means that stainless steel will not corrode or pit when it comes into contact with acidic or alkaline foods. In comparison, cookware made with aluminum and cast iron that is not coated nor anodized does react with acidic or alkaline foods."

 Another benefit to stainless steel is the ability to brown meat and create "fond" the bits of stuck on food bits that when a liquid(ie broth, water, wine) is added to them can be made into a fantastic sauce.

Years ago my husband and I bought a set of stainless steel pans we saw in an infomercial with a famous chef I shall not name.  When we got the pans I used them and I was disappointing because my food kept sticking and they were very hard to clean.  I decided I was not meant to use stainless steel and switched to anodized aluminum non-stick until last year.  These past few years I have thought often about switching to stainless steel again because they are more durable and produce better results.  I had been contemplating the pans pictured above for months waiting for the right time to buy them, that came when once again my non-stick pans were scratched and the non-stick was peeling on one of them.  My husband bought me an inexpensive set of pans before we moved here, since we sold most of our kitchen wares.  I used the red pans(the reason why he chose them was the color is my favorite) for a year, not bad.  Did you know that stainless steel can be cooked in such a way as to be nonstick, I didn't switch partly because of the mess I would make of food when using them.  Click here for the best tutorial on cooking with stainless steel pans ever, she opened my eyes to the possibility of cooking.  My last concern was the clean up, I scoured the internet(like that play on words?) for a way to clean stainless steel pans and what I found was just about everyone recommends Bar Keepers Friend, you can see it here.  

I have enjoyed my cookware, it isn't as high end as All-Clad, but it cooks as well for a fraction of the cost.  Cooking eggs successfully still eludes me though.  I have seared meat and sauteed vegetables and been very happy with the results.

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