To Stick or Not to Stick?

We're thrilled to have the folks from Cooks of Crocus Hill in our Woodbury Market for so many reasons, not the least of which is that we can get great answers to some of the questions that plague us, like, “Which is better: a nonstick or a 'regular' pan?" Here is their astute advice:

To stick or not to stick? That is the question! Here at Cooks of Crocus Hill, we get asked this question a bunch. Our typical reply enables us to connect our answer with the actual challenge at hand: "What are you trying to cook?"

If you are cooking an egg, a nonstick pan works great.
If you are trying to brown a pork chop, definitely go with stick.

Cast Iron SkilletThe key variable is, “Would you like a little brown with that?” Pork chops, yes. Eggs, not so much. The brown on the outside of the chop is the result of caramelizing the sugars resident in the meat. Pork, and almost everything we eat, has some level of sugar in it – meat, onions, arugula, cheese, pasta, you name it. Fortunately, we want there to be some browning of the foods we prepare. Browning adds flavor. That stuff that sticks to the bottom of the pan (the fond, in kitchen lingo) – that's about 95% flavor. It's a big contributor to making a dish taste good.

There are also a variety of high-protein items, like eggs, that have an affinity to adhering to the surface of a hot pan. So while we like browning, we also like a few things to release quickly and easily, like scrambled eggs, frittatas and crêpes, etc.

More often than not, the real balancing act in the kitchen involves trying to prepare the item to a proper level of doneness while gaining a nice brown color and flavor without cooking those sugars too fast and burning your pan's surface to the point of needing a chisel to remove it from the pan!

At the end of the day, you probably need at least one of each: a conventional skillet for the things you want to brown, a nonstick skillet for the things you don't. “Best pan for the job!” – that's another of our sayings at Cooks!

Find a variety of pans and other equipment for all situations at the Cooks of Crocus Hill store in our Woodbury Market.

Kowalski's Teaching Kitchen

You've asked and we're answering. Our new partner Cooks now offers classes in our Woodbury Market, just one floor up from their new store there. Join us for Life Without Nonstick in The Next Level on October 2nd. Register online at kowalskis.com/classes.

A Few Tricks to Reduce Stick

  • Lower the cooking temperature. Heavy, high-quality pots and pans conduct heat really well; they love the low to medium setting on your stovetop.
  • Bring your pan to temperature before adding your oil and swirl it around a bit before adding food.
  • Add a little liquid to remove stuck-on browned bits from the surface of your pan.

And remember: never use metal utensils on nonstick surfaces!

Cheat Sheet

TO STICK
Even heat distribution and ability to withstand high-heat cooking make these pans great for browning.

Look for these types of pans: Stainless steel, aluminum, copper, cast iron and porcelain-coated cast iron

NOT TO STICK
Great for high-protein, high-stick and high-sugar foods (think eggs, pancakes and caramelized onions), these allow you to use less oil and are easy to clean.

Look for these types of pans: Teflon® or other nonstick coatings, ceramic and cast iron

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