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Old 01-21-2006, 12:37 PM   #1
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Question New owner of s/s cookware, need help!

I have only just purchased stainless steel cookware, and so far have managed to stick everything to the bottom. How in the world do I cook a successful meal without leaving half of it on the bottom of the pan? Yes, I have used low to med heat, to no avail! Any suggestions?

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Old 01-21-2006, 12:52 PM   #2
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First off, welcome to the site. You came to the right place as you will get tons of great advice here.

Here are my suggestion...

1. Make sure to use enough heat. You will find out what "enough" means with trial and error, but chances are for most things that have sticking potential low and med will not be enough. Try med-high and see if that helps.

2. The second thing is that you need enough fat in the pan. Be it oil, butter, grease, or any other type of fat.

3. Once you put the food in the pan DO NOT MOVE IT. Most people instinctively want to start moving the food around. This is the worst thing you can do. It will guarantee your food will stick. What you should do is put the food in once the fat you are using is hot. Let the food sit for a minute or two. First the food will stick, but as it cooks it will eventually release from the pan.

Most of what I just said is in relation to cooking things like chicken and steak and things like that. Depending on what exactly you are cooking some things could change.

What types of things have you tried to cook so far?
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Old 01-21-2006, 12:52 PM   #3
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Welcome to DC, Jenny. I can't answer that one myself, have the same problem, so, I bought t-fal. lol. Someone will give you the answer your looking for though. Just roam around until they do.

Well, GB beat me on the posts! See, they're fast around here.
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Old 01-21-2006, 03:21 PM   #4
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I agree with what GB said - I only just recently learned this myself. I always thought "searing" meant to "cook briefly", and I guess, in a way it does.

I have a Calphalon Everyday Pan that I use for almost everything. While watching America's Test Kitchen, I learned that things like beef (not ground), pork and chicken will stick UNTIL they've achieved the perfect sear on the outside, at which point they can be moved easily without leaving half of themselves on the bottom of the pan.

I used cheap nonstick for years because, like you, I'd have little bits of chicken stuck to the bottom of my pans. I was always afraid to "just leave it alone", for fear I would burn it. You won't, believe it or not!

I have tried this and it really does work. Sometimes I still get a little impatient and move things early, but for the most part it works well. I even got brave and tried veal scallopini last weekend, which was very thin and I only wanted about a 30-second sear - sure enough, that was about all it took until I could move the cutlets.

Another thing GB said that is backed up by something I've read recently - make sure your fat is hot enough. I read that Americans are afraid to cook over high heat because it smokes and splatters - but for some things you really do need that high heat for a good sear without cooking the meat all the way through. I'm guilty of that myself - I HATE grease everywhere, but it does make a difference if you have your fat hot enough before you begin cooking. It's especially easy to tell in stainless - the oil will shimmer and you will begin to see just slight whisps of smoke. I always go by the shimmering myself.

Hope I've helped a little. Oh - and one more thing, especially when cooking "chunks" of food, like chicken for a stir-fry, don't overcrowd or you will not achieve a sear - the food will steam and the juices will be released, resulting in tough food (especially chicken). Read that in the same place I read the other, and I know from personal experience about the juice thing.

Anyway, you will grow to love your SS. Like I said, I use my Calphalon 12" everyday for EVERYTHING (almost). Cheers - Beth
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Old 01-21-2006, 08:18 PM   #5
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Thank you all for the warm welcome and the valuable suggestions! I can't wait to try them out!

I absolutely had the same problem as you, Beth, with the overcrowding. At least now I know why my chicken didn't brown and become tender! The pan was full of liquid and the chicken was tough. It messed up the whole recipe and there is nothing I hate more than to serve my family a substandard meal!

My last failure was a pan of scrambled eggs. I will be sure to get the fat hot enough and allow the food to cook a little longer before I move it around!

Thanks again for the prompt response! I'm looking forward to visiting this site and getting to know you all!
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Old 01-22-2006, 06:33 AM   #6
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It also depends on the brand that you bought.

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Old 01-22-2006, 09:12 AM   #7
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I have some cheap statinless steel pans I use nearly as much as I use my cast iron. To keep foods from sticking, the pan has to be absolutley clean to start with (should be common sense, but sometimes an electric dishwasher will miss tiny bits of debris). Second, heat the pan before adding the fat (by fat, we mean oils, animal fat such as lard or bacon, etc, butter, margerine, shortening, etc.)

Using the "heat before adding fat" technique has allowed me to use just enough oil to barely coat the cooking surface and still prevent sticking. I usually cook at medium heat on my gas range, which is plenty to sear the meat or caramelize the veggies. And you do have to let the food sit for between 20 to 30 seconds before moving it. I have no problems with anything sticking. Even eggs slide around in my pan, whether I scramble them, or fry them sunny-side up.

The downside of stick-free cooking, no fond with which to flavor gravies or sauces. But when I want fond, I just don't add fat to the pan. Bits of the food stick and I have something to work with after whatever I'm cooking comes out of the pan.

Again, through trial and error, and listening to what some on this site have told me, heat the pan before adding the fat. It helps enormously.

Hope this helps.

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Old 01-22-2006, 11:22 AM   #8
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Good point, GW.

Remembering a caveat from the old Frugal Gourmet (Jeff Smith) show:

"Hot wok, cold oil, food won't stick." True for SS pans as well.
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Old 01-22-2006, 12:55 PM   #9
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Yeah, the trick IS to let the pan warm up a little bit to about medium before you add the oil. I do that also.

But don't let the pan get any warmer than that, or the pan will start to develop burn stains that may not come off so easily.

And I don't wash my stainless steel cookware nor their glass lids in the dishwasher either. I much prefer to wash them by hand. This helps to keep them from rubbing together during loading & unloading, keeping the outsides of the pans blemish-free.

For tarnish removal, which tarnish mainly begins when you cook in them, I just clean that off with a copper cleaning paste that I bought from the store. It just literally melts the tarnish right off the copper bands effortlessly!

Also, for really high-heat cooking, or if you want a pan blasting hot before you cook something in it, your cast iron cookware is best suited for this, since it blackens with use anyway, and you don't have to worry about burned cookware.

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Old 01-22-2006, 01:24 PM   #10
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Great! Thanks, everyone! It will take some getting used to, after years of using nonstick coated pans, but I know it will get easier. I did buy some of that cleaning stuff, Barkeepers whatever. I will use that to clean them so they get squeaky clean!

Corey123, unfortunately I can't use cast iron pots on the stove top we have. The warranty would become void. So that's that.

The pans I have are 9 element pans with waterless/oilless cooking. Found them on the internet after someone recommended them. Also have 1 small Allclad frying pan. I will just have to get plenty of practice!
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