Wednesday, October 08, 2008


cast iron skillet

A good skillet is only out done in importance in a kitchen by a good knife.  Of course, a good sous chef can manage with a nail file and some aluminum paper, but I digress.

I am moved to write about this topic because Carolyn pointed me to the following comparison on the New York Times website:  Heat Distribution  Although it's a simple and limited comparison, it reminded me that I have some passionate views that I've been wanting to share with somebody.

First, let me say that we have an electric, glass cooktop in our house.  It's a Wolf product that looks like this:

Wolf cooktop

We used to have a Dacor electrical glass cooktop in our condo, but fortunately we no longer own either the condo or the Dacor.  The Dacor had a terrible problem with scratching; the Wolf is a LOT better. 

I know that many people, if not most, prefer the more traditional gas cooktop, but frankly, the degree of fine control that an electrical cooktop offers is superior to a gas model.  The Wolf even has a setting to melt.  It's incredible.  I also like it because settings are repeatable.  i.e you can jot down that you cooked whatever at "six bars."  I haven't seen a gas cooktop that offers that feature.  But I digress, once again.

Some readers, those who know me well, recognize that this posting will soon turn into a minor rant.  Why wait?  Let me flip the rant button to "ON."  There! Now we're in rant mode . . .

We have a number All-Clad skillets and pans.  Like this:


As I said, pots and pans are essential kitchen tools, so you need some good ones. The All-Clads are not inexpensive kitchen, yet they have two fundamental problems:

1.  The handles are much too thin for a human being to hold when the pan is loaded with food.  The pan instinctively wants to twirl. It's simply too small to get a good grip.  (I read that they actually made the handles smaller!)

2.  The pan is not designed to be used with an electric cooktop.  Even a small amount of heat causes the bottom to warp.  The result is uneven cooking.

Frankly, an inexpensive cast iron skillet (first photo above) cooks more evenly.  Unfortunately, it suffers from the same problem:  An ergonomically worthless handle.

Finally, I will mention that the All-Clad skillets, and probably all skillets with a non-stick coating, do not tolerate high heat.  Of course, a cast iron skillet will withstand a lot of heat. And, it does not warp.


Post a Comment

<< Home