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Old 11-13-2011, 04:51 PM   #1
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Why did I pick stainless steel....

I'v been looking into getting a new set of pots and pans and after a few months of looking around I settled on a really nice Calphalon "Simply Calphalon" set. Everything sticks to this stuff. I cooked a grilled cheese sandwich and had to use stainless scrub to get the burn out of it after cooking it on med/low.

It's friggin ridiculous. By looking at every cooking show known to man they all use stainless. How the hell do you keep everything from sticking to this? I'm starting to think this was a horrible decision.

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Old 11-13-2011, 05:04 PM   #2
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Simplified, and I'll add it works for me, when using SS I use slightly more fat/oil/butter and slightly less heat. I also find that when you think the food has "released", I like to shake the pan a bit rather than trying to lift the food with a spatula. For folks like me who grew up using non-stick there is a slight learning curve.
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Old 11-13-2011, 07:23 PM   #3
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Don't give up on them! I was in exactly your shoes a few years ago when I bought several pieces of SS. Check out this great thread with all kinds of helpful hints and tips. I swear you CAN make a perfectly grilled cheese sandwich in them.
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Old 11-13-2011, 09:24 PM   #4
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The essential combination for browning is learning the correct temperature and waiting until the food releases. It will release, and the selection of the correct temperature is what produces the desired effect when it does. And, while browning will leave deposits on the pan, they will lift nicely when deglazed. If you don't want the product or deglazing, you can still hit it while still hot with water. But mostly, it's patience to wait until the food decides it's ready to release. Turns out that also precludes messing with it, turning, stirring, etc., and causing it to release water and spoiling the browning.

Believe me. You don't have some mutant variety of stainless steel. You will come to like it, once you get it down. The only time I have to resort to some scrubbing (with Barkeeper's Friend - no abrasives with stainless steel) is when I carry right through from browning and into the oven to braise in the same pan and get some tougher deposits on the sides.
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Old 11-13-2011, 09:26 PM   #5
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You picked SS because its the best!
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Old 11-13-2011, 09:35 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jennyema
You picked SS because its the best!
+1!
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Old 11-13-2011, 10:16 PM   #7
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I'm terrified of adding water to it while hot like I would with my cast iron, I don't want it to warp. I have yet to discover their magical properties outside of deglazing and making sauces.

I was cooking everything in my (best tool ever) cast iron but was getting worried out overusing it when the cooking technique wasn't replenishing the seasoning.
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Old 11-14-2011, 05:39 AM   #8
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SS is different so give it chance. Get used to it. Also, you can't overuse your CI. Wipe a little oil around it as you wipe it clean and heat it up a bit.
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Old 11-14-2011, 08:26 AM   #9
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The trick to stainless steel is using enough heat and enough fat and then not trying to move the food before it is ready to release from the pan. This takes practice and trial and error, but be patient and your pacience will be rewarded. SS is great to cook in once you get past the learning curve. Give it time though and you will be there in short order.

Also, as Robo said, don't worry about using your CI too much. You will not hurt it.
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Old 11-14-2011, 01:04 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by callahan9119 View Post
I'm terrified of adding water to it while hot like I would with my cast iron, I don't want it to warp.
That's an often repeated misapprehension that began as sound advice and got entirely out of hand. The original, and proper (sort off), advice was not to immerse a very hot steel piece in water or rinse a very hot pot with a stream of cold water. The warning was necessary, because people might otherwise try to rapidly cool a hot pot by dunking it in cold water or might dunk a hot pan into cool wash water. But it is today much less of a hazard with "tri-ply" and other thick, encapsulated or bonded stainless steel cookware. Thinner steel, such as the classic Revereware, is more at risk.

It does not mean you have to fear something like pouring stock into a hot pan from a box that's been refrigerated. Or wine, or whatever. Those do not provide enough cold liquid to suddenly stress the steel. Neither of those are going to harm even single-thickness stainless steel. I used Revereware for forty years and abused it in just about every way possible, including straight immersion in cold water right from the stove. Even in the worst case, it's merely a warning of what could happen. But how often do you want to be pouring cold liquid into something you're cooking, anyway?

(I have warped large, flat thin steel baking sheets by dropping them hot into wash water. For that matter, I've warped them by sticking them suddenly under a broiling element.)

You are just not going to harm your SS cookware without deliberately setting out to harm it. You may buy yourself some extra work when you get the technique wrong and have to soak and scrub, but it will come out like new. (The rainbow kind of iridescence effect you may see after use is a reaction from some salts. It's harmless, and Barkeeper's Friend polishes it right out.)

Now, if you read enough about using SS cookware, you'll find someone touting the hot pan/cold oil notion and representing it as preventing sticking. Baloney. You want hot oil and the faith and patience to leave the food unmolested long enough. How hot? That depends on the food and its thickness. And you don't have the heat available on a home range top to properly do thin steaks in a pan without having them overdone before they brown. So you use thick steaks. The same idea transfers to fish and vegetables.

Since temperature matters, and there's no easy way to directly measure the temperature, it's good to know the smoke points of common cooking oils.

Smoke Points of Various Fats - Kitchen Notes - Cooking For Engineers

Note, for instance, the very different characters of olive oils. Extra virgin at 320, virgin at 420, and extra light at 468. Although extra light olive oil is good all around, and cooking with extra virgin is just a waste.
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