Don’t cheap out on your basic frying pans. This is the place to spend a little extra dough for good quality. There’s nothing worse than a frying pan than heats unevenly, burns your food, and is so thin that it warps and has to be replaced after only a few months of use.
I recommend stainless steel because it’s durable and easy to care for. An inner layer of aluminum also improves the heat conduction so the pan heats up and cools down faster. The All-Clad Master Chef 2 frying pans are as good as it gets. They use two layers of sturdy stainless steel sandwiching an aluminum core that heats up quickly, holds heat, and spreads it evenly across the base.
Do not get uncoated aluminum pans. It can react with acidic foods like tomatoes, wine, or citrus. Stainless pans are the ones you want for pan searing meats before roasting or braising, or for cooking things like medallions of pork or chicken cutlets, and then turning the brown bits in the pan into a fabulous pan sauce.
The All-Clad pans pans have nicely sloped sides so you can practice flipping food with a flick of the wrist, and the handles are riveted on permanently. The pans can go into the oven or on the grill, but beware, they get hot. You’ll need to use a potholder or folded kitchen towel. I recommend getting two basic sizes: the 8 inch All-Clad Master Chef 2 Fry Pan for cooking small quantities of food and the 12 inch for searing a couple pork chops at a time or sauteing a big pile of onions.
Note that these pans are not cheap, but they will last a lifetime. Although they are dishwasher safe, hand washing is recommended and will extend their life. From the date of purchase, All-Clad guarantees to repair or replace any item found defective in material, construction or workmanship under normal use and following care instructions.
Now, of course, stainless steel pans are not completely nonstick. If you’ve ever cooked eggs in one, you know. For cooking more delicate foods, I also like to keep on hand two nonstick pans in the exact same sizes, 8 inch and 12 inch. But go cheap. All nonstick surfaces eventually scratch and wear off, despite the manufacturer’s claims. I buy cheap nonstick pans and throw them away every five years or so. Get them at your supermarket. Go for the heaviest ones you can find with sloped sides which makes it easier to fold and slide out an omelet. Check the way the handle is attached. They are usually screwed on, but riveted handles are better. Either way, make sure it’s sturdy.
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All-Clad 8 Inch Stainless Steel Frying Pan
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Meathead, BBQ Hall of Famer - Founder and publisher of AmazingRibs.com, Meathead is known as the site's Hedonism Evangelist and BBQ Whisperer. He is also the author of the New York Times Best Seller "Meathead, The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling", named one of the "100 Best Cookbooks of All Time" by Southern Living.