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Old 09-06-2006, 03:54 PM   #1
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Yet another SS-Clad-triply-HA question

Hello, I'm Jaye and in a dilemma. Let me first say that I've read every post here on SS cookware, just so you don't feel a groan coming on. Long story short; I grew up on non-stick...first the peely stuff that scorched and flaked off and now today, hard anodized aluminum. I thought that by using HAA I'd have the last set of my life. To my shock and dismay, the bottom of my main skillet has bowed (bowled?) like the thinner pans I've used and tossed in the past. This pan is 6 years old and meticulously cared for, not even a scratch. Still, on the ceramic cook top it pivots all over the place. It has never been burned although it did spend it's first 3 years on an electric coil element. Costco has agreed to take back my beloved 6 y/o set, but their current set doesn't have the parts I use the most. I'm distressed about another bowed pan experience. What caused this? I'm looking at the copper-bonded 5ply based SS set. I had the box in my cart when a woman proclaimed, "Don't buy that set! It's got the highest return rate of any cookware they have! I brought mine back with a tortilla stuck in it." So here I am, lost in the world. The thought of relearning to cook in SS doesn't excite me but having read so much here, I trust it's the way to go. We are very good cooks here, in fact my two 9 y/o's are both quite proficient at seasoned fried eggs. They also make dry heated cheese quesadillas. I suspect they'll be lost and discouraged in SS. And using more oil...dread. Maybe it won't be so, I do keep a little squeeze bottle of peanut oil (with a garlic clove tossed in) on the stove and do use it. Maybe I'll have to keep all my rice dishes, fried and sticky, secluded to my non-stick paella or dutch baby pans. Lugging out that big pan almost daily seems daunting. I'm trying to keep life simple here!
Any words of encouragement or otherwise? Should I (non)stick with HAA?
Jaye

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Old 09-06-2006, 04:03 PM   #2
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Jaye, I have the ss 5play copper pans from costco and I love them. I, too, went from nonstick to ss - I read alot about cooking with ss on this site - I have no complaints! Although I do cook eggs in nonstick still. If you buy the pans from costco and do not like them, no matter when it is, they will take them back.
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Old 09-06-2006, 04:04 PM   #3
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What brand was your haa? My guess is that is bowed because it was not think/heavy enough.

SS is great stuff and if you are a good cook then I recommend getting some. Yes it will take you a short while to learn how to cook in it, but it is not hard to learn and the results will make you happy.

Just a note in that bottle of oil with the garlic clove in it. You may want to rethink keeping the garlic in there. You are risking getting botolisum by doing that. Oil that you add garlic to (as opposed to buying it from a store already made) should be kept in the fridge and used within 10 days.
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Old 09-06-2006, 04:05 PM   #4
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Jaye

What brand was your hard anodized pan? I suspect your problem has more to do with the quality of the pan than the cooking surface.

IMO SS is the way to go, especially if you are good cooks. I'd suggest one or two small nonstick skillets for eggs and other things that you or your kids may find tricky. I make quesadillas dry in my cast iron skillet w/o problem. I bet it would be fine in SS.

The key is to buy good quality pieces. And sometimes a set isn't the way to go unless you are sure you'll use all the pieces. Generally they throw stuff in that isn't that useful.
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Old 09-07-2006, 12:15 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaye Lewis
Hello, I'm Jaye and in a dilemma. Let me first say that I've read every post here on SS cookware, just so you don't feel a groan coming on. Long story short; I grew up on non-stick...first the peely stuff that scorched and flaked off and now today, hard anodized aluminum. I thought that by using HAA I'd have the last set of my life. To my shock and dismay, the bottom of my main skillet has bowed (bowled?) like the thinner pans I've used and tossed in the past. This pan is 6 years old and meticulously cared for, not even a scratch. Still, on the ceramic cook top it pivots all over the place. It has never been burned although it did spend it's first 3 years on an electric coil element. Costco has agreed to take back my beloved 6 y/o set, but their current set doesn't have the parts I use the most. I'm distressed about another bowed pan experience. What caused this? I'm looking at the copper-bonded 5ply based SS set. I had the box in my cart when a woman proclaimed, "Don't buy that set! It's got the highest return rate of any cookware they have! I brought mine back with a tortilla stuck in it." So here I am, lost in the world. The thought of relearning to cook in SS doesn't excite me but having read so much here, I trust it's the way to go. We are very good cooks here, in fact my two 9 y/o's are both quite proficient at seasoned fried eggs. They also make dry heated cheese quesadillas. I suspect they'll be lost and discouraged in SS. And using more oil...dread. Maybe it won't be so, I do keep a little squeeze bottle of peanut oil (with a garlic clove tossed in) on the stove and do use it. Maybe I'll have to keep all my rice dishes, fried and sticky, secluded to my non-stick paella or dutch baby pans. Lugging out that big pan almost daily seems daunting. I'm trying to keep life simple here!
Any words of encouragement or otherwise? Should I (non)stick with HAA?
Jaye


Chances are, also, that from what it sounds like, you may have had the heat
under the pan "screaming-hot", as Rachel Ray would say.

The very (extremely) high heat may have caused your HAA pan(s) to overheat and warp to the point where the pan just pivots and spins on top of the stove. In much the same way that the engine in your car would overheat and the block becomes warped or cracked.

The lesson learned here may be an expensive one in terms of the cost of the set. But you said that you could return it. Try nto be a little bit kinder with the next set, and try not to have the heat under the pans a moderate to medium high. And see how that works out for you. I hope this helps.


~Corey123.
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Old 09-07-2006, 04:09 PM   #6
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So incredible, this info super highway. The HAA set I've loved is also Kirkland Signture from the year 2000. They are very heavy. While I was reading the many posts yesterday, I noticed that it was mentioned a few times that in HAA, a good fond isn't possible. I silently disagreed because I always get a beautiful sear on my roasts. I recon the HAA didn't like screaming hot. (Thank you Cory!) And I have been known to crack a couple engine blocks in my time. Being that I do like to sear and I do refer to my copy of Barbara Kafka's Roasting, (she's pro-smoke) the 5 ply bottom seems to be my best option. Also, with that note Cory, I'll go back to her chapter on favorite pans. I remember her elaborating there.

Thanks for that note on botulism! Never heard of it being connected to raw garlic, yet studied it in college. And I will get the kids their own little HAA pans. (They, who think Iron Chef is the greatest think since ScoobyDoo)

As far as price goes, the only other set of 5ply incorporating both aluminum and copper core that I've found so far is All Clad and it retails for $1,500. Not that anyone buys retail, but Costco's set is only $199 and has more pieces. Honestly, I walked right past it because I thought it was trying to win a beauty contest. I'm more of a work horse kind of gal.

I tell ya's I woke up still confused this morning but now I feel like my hand is being held; I'm feeling much more confident about the 5ply SS choice. Even if I have to buy some BKF. Many many thanks! More responses will be eagerly read.
Jaye
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Old 09-07-2006, 04:33 PM   #7
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Jaye,

I agree with Corey that high heat is a likely cause of the problem with your skillet. Though I use high heat with my All Clad SS all the time ....

Have you considered just replacing the skillet instead of getting a whole new set? You can pick up a 12 inch AC SS for about $80 or a Copper Core for $130 (cosmetically challenged). Or, obviously, something less expensive.

Gotta love Barbara Kafka but only if you have good ventilation! Her high heat roast chicken is fabulous. Try lining the roasting pan with thinly sliced potatoes to absorb the drippings and reduce the smoke.

Also, it is possible to sear well on nonstick surfaces but since it's nonstick you don't develop fond as well as when the food sticks to the surface of the pan. Sear/fond 2 different things.
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Old 09-08-2006, 01:58 PM   #8
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Jennyema,

Thanks for the tips! Your suggestion to consider just replacing the skillet, which I now know is my large sautee pan, set me off on another massive search just for that possible option. But as far as pricing goes, and this fact is obsene, I'll get a full refund on my HAA set. That's a strict Costco rule. The entire set must come back and the full purchase price must be refunded in cash. That's a contract agreement with the vendors; they agree to incurr all costs of their product returns in exchange for distributing their product globally. Costco winswinswins. We the members are considered business partners. It's the vendors who line their pockets. Costco also has an army of inspectors who pick apart the vendors' manufacturing plants every year and they pay a string of zeros for that service. Costco scores again. My best friend was a Costco vendor and would get physically ill during inspection week. He helped me a great deal on my research paper on business stradegies.

Back to pans: If I take back my 6 year old HAA set, and buy the 13 pc. SS/5ply/aluminum/copper set, I'll be set back 20 bucks. Crazy. For the kids I stumbled upon Mario Batali's 14 inch pizza/skillet for their stove top use. It's cast iron with enamel, it's very low profile which would be a great benefit for the kids wielding spatulas and it doesn't have a long handle that the kids never use anyway. This should also help avoid confusion if we buy metal utensils that can't be used in HAA. Being flat and 14" I suspect it won't spin on them. It happens to be beautiful as well, so won't be an eyesore if left out. Seems like a terrific option. It's made by Copco.
Also along my journey re: cooking surfaces I found that HAA is a stable chemical coating, a very hard oxide, yet it is still often coated with teflon or impregnated with it! Most HAA designs specify HAA and don't seem to be required to disclose teflon ingredients. So if you're concerned, it is not safe to assume that HAA and teflon are two separate entities.

I figure if I'm going to give up my spinning HAA sautee pan, I might as well go cold turkey and jump right into SS get stuck and learn to get unstuck.
Get reaquainted with cast iron as well. Sound like a plan?
Jaye
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Old 09-09-2006, 08:17 AM   #9
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Your pan could have warped for one of two reasons - getting it too hot or cooling it too quickly while very hot. Since it sounds like you like to get your pan blazing hot - it could be either of these reasons.

Now, about Hard Anodized Aluminum (HAA) - and what it sounds like you have which is Non-Stick HAA (NS-HAA). NS cookware, regardless of the metal it is bonded to (untreated aluminum, HAA, or SS) should not be heated above about 450°-F. HAA can be gotten hotter and will develop a better fond than NS-HAA. But fond and sear are not the same thing. You can get a good sear with NS - that is the browning of the surface of the meat. Fond is the stuff in the bottom of the pan that you deglaze and make into a sauce.

Now, a word about SS - that will not be your answer to blazing hot cooking either. SS, when heated too high, will turn colors - from brown to red to blue forming a rainbow of colors in your pan that you can not wash out, it can warp, and in the case of SS with a bonded disk on the bottom, the aluminum in the disk can melt, expand, seperate the disk, and leak out all over your stove.

Cast Iron (CI) is your best bet for those blazing hot applications.

No matter what you get - READ THE INSTRUCTIONS that come with it!

I have CI, NS-HAA, HAA, SS - they all behave differently and have diffrent uses in my kitchen. And yes, if you change from NS-HAA to SS there will be a learning curve.You might be better off to keep what you have, toss the bad saute pan, and just replace it if you are happy with the pieces of cookware you have rather than switching to something else.

That's just my $0.02 worth of advice.
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Old 09-14-2006, 03:46 PM   #10
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I have my new 5-ply SS set. Following the directions I learned here, I heated a pan, browned a pat of butter and went full tilt into frying eggs. I didn't touch them until they were ready and seeing how loose they were in the pan, I flipped them together rather than use a spatula. I can't turn 2 fried eggs together with a spatula so this experience was completely unexpected. The pan is clean of all protein, just the gloss of remaining butter. I'm rather astonished. The Mario Batali 14" pizza/skillet arrived and I gave that a go. Will take a little more time getting this pre-seasoned
pan truly seasoned but we've got a great big searing surface for my cool weather 7 bone roasts to come. Thanks everyone for all your help!
Jaye
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