I don’t know about you, but my pots and pans are getting worn down from all the additional cooking I’ve been doing. I also feel like I have too many — I have a pan for searing (my cast iron), a pan for sautéing (my stainless steel), and a pan for when I’m lazy, and therefore most used (my nonstick). Each of these pans serves a different purpose and is irreplaceable and a necessary fixture in my kitchen. Or, so I thought.
Pretty much panhandling for help, I recently spoke with Julia Sullivan, the James Beard-nominated chef and owner of Henrietta Red in Nashville, Tennessee. She told me a carbon steel pan, specifically this one from Made In, could “replace all of the pans in my kitchen,” and solve my woes altogether.
Blue Carbon Steel Frying Pan
“Carbon steel is the best of both worlds,” she told me. “You get the lightweight properties of stainless steel, making it ideal for sautéing, and the heat conductivity and retention you would with cast iron.” But it gets better from there. “It’s a thinner metal,” she continued, “which means it can heat up really quickly and conduct heat even better than cast iron.”
She went on to compare the sides of the Made In Pan to a wok. “The high curves, which you wouldn’t get with a cast iron pan, make it easy to sauté or even fry, to ensure nothing splatters onto your stovetop or floor.”
“Plus,” she went on, “it’s easy to clean.”
Now I was intrigued. “All you have to do is wipe up the oil with a paper towel, and maybe run a little water on it if it’s really dirty,” she said. “And that’s it. Really.”
I had to try this for myself. Made In was kind enough to help me get my hands on one, and I was off. The only roadblock? Seasoning. But even that proved to be easier than anticipated. To create a nonstick surface, I wet a paper towel with oil, heated up the pan, and ran a few layers of oil all over it. What’s really cool is that the seasoning continues to develop as you cook more and more, forming a black patina that is a somewhat invulnerable nonstick surface on the pan. The more I cooked with the pan, the better it became, and soon enough my old pans were out on the street.
In short, Julia was right: “Unless you’re an absolute cast iron fanatic, carbon steel is the way to go.”
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