Undeniably, selecting quality food is at the very core of good eating. Starting out with fresh, organic, seasonal ingredients guarantees that the final product will be delectable. Nevertheless, expert chefs will be quick to point out that the right kind of equipment also contributes a great deal to the success of the dish. I have experienced firsthand the frustration of utilizing the wrong kind of tools and it can be exasperating. It not only ruined the cooking experience, but it also made the dish look nothing like the original recipe.
If you are looking for the kind of cookware that best matches your needs, you must first consider what you like to cook and how you like to cook it.
To begin with, choosing the right material is of the essence. The options are many and varied, but knowing the main advantages and disadvantages of each material will help you narrow down your options. Take into consideration factors such as the existing heat source, the kind of foods you prefer and how frequently you will use your pan to make your final determination.
Stainless steel pans are usually infused with chromium to make them corrosion resistant. Because steel does not conduct heat evenly, these pans have a copper or aluminum core. You can use them with highly acidic foods (tomato, wine, vinegar) and they are perfect for deglazing, searing and broiling. They are compatible with gas, electric and induction stovetops.
Cast iron is a traditional option very popular with environmentally conscious chefs. These pans are on the heavy side and retain heat long after removed from the stove. Some come pre-seasoned but others need to be saturated with oil and “cured” in a hot oven until the surface becomes waterproof. The iron can transfer into your food, particularly with acid containing foods.
Anodized aluminum has a characteristic dark gray color. The anodizing process makes the pans scratch proof and non reactive to foods. It is not a magnetic surface so it will not be appropriate for induction cooking, being best suited for gas and electric.
Other popular materials are copper (not compatible with induction stoves and high maintenance), carbon steel (prone to rust, needs seasoning) and stoneware (most types are oven safe, stick resistant).
Whatever your final choice, the right kind of cookware will ensure an easy and successful product. With a little bit of care, your cookware can provide you with years of reliable results. You will feel more confident testing new recipes and the process of making your creations will be fun and enjoyable.