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Thick metal construction is an indicator of a quality skillet.
Copper skillets should be lined with stainless steel.
Anodised aluminium and stainless steel clad aluminium skillets give the best performance at a reasonable price.
Cast iron skillets are ideal for heavy chores, but must be seasoned and maintained. The enamel on coated iron skillets should be thick to prevent chipping and cracking.
Nonstick surfaces require less oil and clean easier, but may not brown as well as metal.
Stainless steel handles remain relatively cool, are sturdy and versatile.
Designed to cook food quickly over high heat, the skillet is the workhorse of professional kitchens. The flat bottom of a skillet allows for direct contact with food and the sloped sides help you toss food while cooking. Skillets are ideal for tasks as simple as grilling a cheese sandwich and sauteing blanched vegetables as well as more complicated jobs like searing meats and making pan sauces from the drippings.
We like having a selection of skillets on hand at all times as insurance against any cooking need that might arise in our kitchens. Kitchenware Direct's wide range of frypans and skillets include All-Clad, Anolon, Baccarat, Chasseur, Circulon, Cuisinart, Essteele, Jamie Oliver,Le Creuset, Raco, Scanpan, Swiss Diamond, and Tefal. We believe no kitchen is complete without at least one high-quality even heating skillet. A skillet will see more use than just about any other pan in your cupboard, and a good one will be passed down from generation to generation if well cared for. A 20 or 25 cm skillet is an ideal all-purpose size to start with.
A good skillet will heat evenly on the bottom and the sides and will function well over a range of temperatures both on the flame and in the oven. Thickness is a good indicator of the quality of a skillet and a skillet with sides as thick as its bottom is ideal. Avoid skillets made of thin, flimsy metal as they will generally cook unevenly and warp under high heat. This being said, good skillets may be made from a variety of materials.
Although copper skillets heat evenly and are exceptionally responsive to the flame, we believe they are unnecessary. Not only are copper skillets expensive, if uncoated they are toxic, reactive, and susceptible to corrosion. If you choose to invest in a copper skillet, make sure it is lined with stainless steel as any other lining will wear down in time. Aluminium skillets are strong, lightweight, and heat conductive, but are also chemically reactive. Solid aluminium skillets will alter the taste of foods that are acidic, basic, or contain eggs and will pit in contact with salt. Anodised aluminium, an electrochemically treated aluminium, is an excellent metal for skillets. It is extremely hard, heats fast and evenly, is nonreactive, and relatively non-stick.
Stainless steel is a poor conductor of heat, and skillets made of solid stainless steel cook poorly. However, stainless steel is an ideal cooking surface as it is nonporous, nonreactive, nontoxic, and highly durable. Additionally, it allows for excellent browning, that crucial factor for developing flavour. Stainless steel skillets with copper or aluminium bottoms heat well, but we recommend stainless steel skillets with layered copper or aluminium cores as they best combine the virtues of each metal.
Old fashioned cast iron and carbon steel skillets are sometimes the best tool for the job. They retain a lot of heat, so though they are not as responsive as other skillets, they cook steadily and evenly, ideal for when you’re frying batches of cutlets or searing a large cut of beef. Cast iron and carbon steel skillets require constant maintenance, but if properly seasoned will resist rusting and provide a relatively nonstick surface. Enameled cast iron skillets also perform exceptionally well, but can chip and crack if thinly coated.
Ultimately, the decision to purchase nonstick cookware will depend on your personal preference. Nonstick surfaces have their advantages and their disadvantages. On the plus side, they are easy to clean and require less oil than traditional pans for frying and sauteing. On the downside, the surfaces can be delicate and they do not generally brown food as well as metal surfaces.
Although innovations have made Teflon coatings more durable than ever, Teflon will release highly toxic vapors if heated above 350 ° C. Empty Teflon coated pans should never be left heating over a burner. Inexpensive coated pans will scratch and flake easily and should be avoided altogether.
Anodised aluminium pans are nontoxic and scratch resistant. They tend to stick more than coated pans, but they will not be damaged by metal utensils and they do a better job of searing and browning. Some manufacturers use an anodised aluminium that has been electrochemically “infused” with non-stick polymers or revolutionary ceramics to create truer non-stick surfaces. We recommend any of these as they are durable and effective.
A good handle must be strong, sturdy, and remain cool to the touch. Wooden handles provide the best grip, but are not oven safe and therefore limit the versatility of a skillet. Plastic handles can withstand oven temperatures up to 250 EC, but can melt under a broiler. Stainless steel is a poor conductor and long handles made from stainless steel are oven safe and will remain cool for a good amount of time. We prefer wide or hollow stainless steel handles for their versatility, but we also keep a potholder on hand at all times.
Handles that have been riveted to the side of a pan are strong and durable, but the rivets may be difficult to clean around and can loosen in time with heavy use. Handles that have been permanently bonded to or forged from the same piece of metal as the cookware will never fail. We suggest avoiding handles that have been spot welded or attached to the cookware by means of a screw system as they will loosen easily and may break entirely.