I found this helpful for anyone who is interested:
Stainless steel vs.
hard-anodized aluminum cookware
aluminum is 30% harder than stainless steel
. It is more scratch resistant and, because of its darker surface tones, scratches and other signs of wear are not as visible to the eye as with stainless
Even with its hardened surface, hard-anodized
aluminum like stainless steel
can occasionally react with foods high in acids or alkali. Most often, however, it takes an intense combination of factors to cause discoloration or reverse the hard-anodization process. These factors include certain minerals in local water, highly acidic ingredients (such as highly concentrated lemon juice with cranberries), even soil quality where foods are grown.
The hard-anodized sauté
As the chicken sautés, it bonds quickly and consistently with the surface of the pan. The bonding, or "sticking" effect contributes to the even, golden browning over the whole exterior. As the natural juices escape from the meat and are "cooked down" or reduced, they become darker and more concentrated (called caramelising) on the bottom of the pan. Flavours become richer and more intense. Small bits of the chicken remain on the bottom of the pan, also developing new, intense flavours. As the chicken reaches its ideal degree of "doneness" it actually releases itself from the hard-anodized
cooking surface. The chicken "tells you" when it's ready to be turned or removed.
The chicken results:
- Even, golden browning over the whole exterior.
- Moist and tender texture, no fibrous texture in the meat.
- Juicy interior, although juices are left in the pan.
Wine is added to the heated pan, creating lots of steam and bubbling. The caramelised juices and flavour bits release easily from the cooking surface and mix consistently with the wine. As it reduces, it thickens.
The deglazing results:
Stainless steel (with aluminum core) sauté
- Thick, hearty liquid.
- The liquid is of an even consistency throughout, a smooth suspension of food bits and colour.
- Rich colour, flavour, and aroma.
As the chicken sautés, it bonds with the surface of the pan, but not as quickly or to the same degree as with hard-anodized
aluminum. The bonding contributes golden browning over the surface of the chicken, but there is often a subtle difference in the depth of colour.
As with the hard-anodized
aluminum surface, the natural juices escape from the meat and become darker and more concentrated on the bottom of the pan, creating richer, more intense flavours. Small bits of the chicken remain on the bottom of the pan, also developing new, intense flavours.
The chicken results:
- Golden browning with slightly less consistent coverage.
- Slight loss of tenderness in meat, more fibrous texture when bitten into.
- Juiciness closely comparable to hard-anodized version.
Wine is added to the heated pan, again creating lots of steam and bubbling. The caramelised juices and flavour bits release easily from the cooking surface and mix consistently with the wine. As it reduces, it thickens, but the juices caramelise less evenly The liquid is not as rich or as consistent in depth as the hard-anodized
The deglazing results:
Comparing the Results
- Less consistent colour in juices, although still very acceptable.
- Slightly thinner and less depth than the hard-anodized results.
Note the differences between the hard-anodized
and stainless steel
results. They are subtle at times, but these differences should be considered.
Then compare the results of the first two surfaces with the results of the nonstick surface. The differences are staggering. Because the food cannot interact with the cooking surface in the same way, food in nonstick cookware
steams more than it sautés. The difference in cooking results creates a vastly different texture, look, and taste. This is the nature of any nonstick surface.
NOW YOU KNOW why we recommend:
for almost any type of cooking, but especially for people who prefer "crisp, rich, golden flavours with robust natural juices for sauces" and recipes which require deglazing for sauces and gravies. Although the results with aluminum-core stainless steel
are good, the browning and deglazing results are consistently best with hard-anodized
aluminum. Nonstick cookware
for people who prefer "health-conscious, lowfat, light golden flavours with pale natural juices, mostly from liquid added for deglazing" and recipes in which the caramelization process is not required for richer sauces or gravies.