Posted by Bec on 14th Oct 2014
To me, cooking the perfect steak is not just a quick Tuesday night dinner; it’s a work of art. There is something oh-so-satisfying with eating the juiciest steak that is cooked to perfection. That tasty brown crust on the outside and soft, perfectly pink centre – well, it’s enough to make your mouth water!
As different foods require their own cooking methods, your kitchen should be stocked with different types of cookware. With such a diverse range of cookware out there, it can be hard to work out what will bring out the best flavours in your cooking. So, I thought I’d break it down for you.
So here it is, Cookware 101: the different types of cookware, and when you should use them.
Non-stick pans: Before buying a non-stick pan, you should check that the non-stick coating is Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) free. This is a man-made chemical that is sometimes used in non-stick coatings. While it is not officially a carcinogenic, this chemical has the potential to stay in the environment and the human body for a long time without breaking down.
Non-stick pans should only be used for low heat cooking such as simmering, reheating or cooking those delicate dishes where the maximum stove temperature will not be reached. High heat should never be reached in a non-stick pan.
Use for: Low temperature cooking only. Maximum heat can damage your pan, including the non-stick coating – and let’s face it – who wants chunks of burnt non-stick scraped off their pan and in their food??? This pan is not recommended for cooking meats. Let’s say you do decide to cook that steak on these pans. Non-stick will transfer heat slowly, so your steak could stew, or not brown up enough on the outside leaving your meat dry, lacking in taste and nowhere near seared enough on the outside. And who wants that? Non-stick is great for frying eggs, cooking delicate meals such as crepes or seafood, or reheating last night’s leftovers.
Try: De Buyer Choc Induction. The cast aluminium based cookware is guaranteed PFOA FREE , and can be used on all heat sources including induction stove tops.
Tip: always heat up non-stick pans slowly to avoid heat-shocks – especially on induction hobs.
Stainless steel pans: Want to cook like a professional chef? This is the pan for you. Stainless steel pans usually contain aluminium layers to conduct heat in the pan. When the two elements are layered together in a thick bottomed pan, it’s a match made in cooking heaven.
Stainless steel pans provide rapid and even heat distribution. They can handle heat well (up to 250°C) and are great for those recipes that call for oven cooking (not microwave).
Use for: Stainless steel pans can be used for a huge range of ingredients. It is particularly great for cooking acidic foods such as tomato, as steel will not change the flavour of the food. It’s also great for soups, veggies, sauces and dishes requiring oven time, or slow cooking.
Try: De Buyer Affinity. While most stainless steel pans contain 5 layers of stainless steel and aluminium, this range contains 7 layers. The result is even cooking with a professional finish. Affinity is also available in the French Collection range – where the handles are inspired by Parisian monuments. It is oh-so-chic, and you’ll never want to put it away!
Tip: to retain the elegant inner finish, boil up a glass of water with a teaspoon of vinegar whenever necessary.
Copper pans: This cookware looks great and is usually found in the best commercial kitchens. Copper is an excellent conductor of heat, making this range of cookware the crème de la crop and one heck of a status symbol in your kitchen! The best copper cookware tends to be on the expensive side, but if you want quality above all others, this is worth it.
When buying copper cookware, take care to avoid anything that does not have a lining of another material on the inside of the pan, such as stainless steel or tin. Copper alone can be toxic to the body when heated (copper egg white bowls are perfectly safe as they are not heated).
Use for: Heat controlled cooking. Unlike stainless steel, copper responds very quickly to changes in temperature. It heats up and cools down quickly, meaning that delicate garlic won’t overcook when removed from the heat, and you will have greater control over your pan.
Try: De Buyer Inocuivre VIP. The inside walls of the pan are lined with stainless steel which means easy upkeep. The temperature spreads evenly on all sides of the pan including the side walls, which makes cooking that much easier. Plus, it’s so sleek, you’ll look damn good doing it too!
Tip: Copper can change colour on the outside when heated. To maintain your cookware and its brilliance, use a copper cleaner to avoid tarnishing.
Carbon steel Pans: Remember that perfect steak I was telling you about? This pan will undoubtedly give you those results. This pan provides what is called the ‘Maillard Reaction’. This is where a crust forms on the outside of your food, sealing the food on the surface and caramelizing the natural juices.
The more you use this pan, the darker it becomes. DON’T PANIC! You haven’t burnt it – it’s supposed to happen! As the pan gets darker it develops natural non-stick properties. This means absolutely no Teflon coatings, and healthier cooking as you are using less oil.
Use for: Sealing, browning and grilling. This pan is the bee’s knees for frying meat, or cooking high temperature foods.
Try: De Buyer Mineral B. The pan is made of 100% iron, and is undistortable, ecological, recyclable and environmentally friendly. No manufactured non-stick coatings are used. It’s a heavy pan which can take high heat, so vitamins and nutrients are sealed quickly into your food. Definitely a great option for healthy cooking!
Tip: Seal food for 45 seconds on each side once the pan is good and hot. Then, reduce temperature to complete your cooking. After use, wash with very hot water and a sponge (while the pan is still hot), wipe dry and season with a little oil on a paper towel.
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