Thursday, 3 March 2016

Frying pans. What a sizzling subject!


                           

There is no question that a good steel pan is the best you can get. OK, non-stick pans are convenient, but nothing cooks like plain steel. Just ask any pukka chef.

They only have one problem, and that is that they rust. After every use they need to be properly cleaned with a stainless steel scrubber, heated to dry, then lightly oiled. Like this they are always ready for use.

Actually they do have another problem; the handles get bloody hot.

I also happen to think that they look so much nicer than their modern equivalents. I've no idea how old my pans are, but they all have a beautiful patina.

The very small black one (inside the biggest one) is very old and very heavy; I bought it at a boot sale for €1. The burnt-on patina on it is wonderful; I use it for making simple flat-breads, and it's as non-stick as any Teflon coated equivalent.

If you're travelling through France, and you spot a boot sale, it's worth stopping to buy some of these. Just like folk elsewhere, the French housewife is swapping her old steel pans for non-stick ones, and the rejects can be bought for next to nothing. A bargain.

N.B. They look 'rusty' in the photo; they're not.



53 comments:

  1. I share your enthusiasm for a good pan. Forget Teflon. They are a health hazard. On which I am more than happy to elaborate if you wish me to do so.

    What do you mean by "plain steel"? About ten years ago I bought a heavy stainless steel frying pan (as opposed to yours new and at full price - I don't come cheap). It was love at first sight. If it's possible to be in love with a pan then I am. But rust, Cro? Never.

    Baffled,
    U

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    1. I've never heard of a stainless steel frying pan. I have plenty of saucepans that are SS, but no frying pan. Plain steel pans are used the world over in professional kitchens. They are the choice of top chefs.

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    2. Can you, Cro, per chance, please turn on the charm? Considering you live in France? You really are a dry old sock. Never mind. That comes from being boarded at an impressionable age. I was once married to one who was boarded at eight.

      You have never heard of stainless steel frying pans. Cro, that doesn't mean they don't exist. Neither have you answered my question what constitutes "plain steel pans" or, indeed, why they rust.

      U

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    3. Cro, I have a stainless steel copper bottomed frying pan. It is Polaris brand, I think. I bought it here in New Zealand in the Eighties (or earlier) and it is as good as new.

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    4. All steel rusts on contact with damp air. I can't give any better description of 'plain steel'; look at the photo, that should be enough. And yes, I'm a public school toff, I boarded from 6.

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  2. I have a set of AMC German brand pots, but no frying pan came with it. I bought a eflon non stick pan but soon got rid of it when I heard of the health hazard. I have the ceramic coated interior ones now. The only plain steel pan (or maybe ours is an iron one) is the "holy" chestnut pan, it tends to rust - something new learnt, I will try your method. Greetings Maria x

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    Replies
    1. That sounds like plain steel, they rust very easily. I use one of those wire scrubbers to clean, then heat slightly to dry, and oil lightly.

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  3. Those look like vintage frying pans Cro. Haven't seen any in like that for many, many years. I notice Mary Berry uses non-stick and is always singing it's praises.

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    Replies
    1. Some of mine must be at least 50 years old, and still in perfect condition.

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    2. Incredible. I hope whoever inherits them will look after them equally well. Good to think that they will be passed on down the years.

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  4. I like so much this kind of posts:) it is so interesting to know what is going on in faraway kitchens...

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  5. I changed all my frying pans for cast iron, I love it. They're even heavier than yours Cro, but they keep your muscles toned! I don't have a problem with rust either, I store them in the oven all the time, even if I'm baking at the same time. After washing a quick drop of oil on them, it keeps them seasoned and ready to go for next time. They'll last forever.

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    1. I have one American cast iron pan. It has ribs (for steaks?), and it doesn't get much use. I should use it more often.

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  6. I donated my Le Creuset frying pan to the charity shop as it was so heavy I couldn't lift it easily so thought it was an accident waiting to happen.
    The stainless steel frying pan that came with my saucepan set in 1990 went the same way. I found it impossible to use without burning everything. Maybe it was the copper bottom bit of it, I dunno.
    Much happier with my Tefal pans! Each to their own eh?!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tefal are very practical, but one actually enjoys plain steel. You'd have to use them to see. Stainless steel for a frying pan just sounds all wrong, but I'd have bought your Le Creuset from you; we have lots of their casserole dishes.

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    2. Mind you, I "found" a Cousances cast iron griddle pan on top of the bottle bank the other day. I brought it home and cleaned it up and can't wait to try it out, thinking drop scones, Welsh cakes or crumpets.

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  7. I bought a cast iron frying pan several months ago. Knew I had to season it, so left it in the kitchen as a 'to do' when I had time. Lester decided to have a fry up. Used the new pan. Swore that the pan was a waste of money because his bacon and eggs got stuck to it. He put the pan in the sink. It got damp. I took it out of the sink, put it on the draining board. Time passed. Picked up the pan to move it. Yes, you've guessed right...it was covered in blobs of rust. But after reading about your love of the pans, I shall apply myself to getting that pan cleaned and oiled and used. It is heavy though, and yes, the handle does get hot!

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    Replies
    1. Don't you cook salt in them, or something? I can't remember exactly what I did with mine, but I think it involved salt.

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    2. Use coarse salt to scrub the rust off your skillet Vera. Give it a quick rinse in very hot water, dry it then coat thoroughly with mineral oil. Set on a baking sheet and put in a hot oven for a few hours... this will re-set the 'seasoning' and you'll be good to go thereafter.

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    3. Erm, I meant to say: 'put it in a LOW oven'.

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    4. Thanks for the help, and will have a go at saving the pan from being thrown out!

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  8. I have a skillet which is cast iron and my cooking inproved as soon as I started using it. I fry all kinds of meats in it at high temperatures, no burning and no sticking. I have had it for 30 years and it doesnt get any special treatment.

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    1. Sounds perfect. Anything but non-stick Teflon, I say.

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  9. I only use cast iron frying pans. The golden rule is only use hot water and a scrubber, and do not over-clean, leave them oily. No detergent! A new cast iron pan has to be conditioned by coating with oil and brought up to heat in the oven, then put away without washing. Cast iron is very porous and soaks up oil a bit.

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    Replies
    1. Cast iron or plain steel are without doubt the best. They do the job so much better.

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    2. That reminds me, I also have a cast iron very flat, no sides; I grill meat, egg plant, zucchini and polenta. Soak in water, scrub and dry. In perfect condition - no rust - maybe because it gets used very often.

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    3. You've reminded me that I have one of those too. Mine is round and has strange 'springs' for handles.

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  10. Your pans are exactly how they should be as all good chefs will tell you. I bought some new saucepans a while ago but mainly use my old, seasoned ones which look very much like yours !!
    I do like a non stick frying pan for my fried eggs though !! XXXX

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    Replies
    1. Non-stick do have their uses, but not too often.

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    2. My saucepans are the ones my mother used, mostly enamel.

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    3. Not those green ones with the long round handles?

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  11. Almost daily I use a cast-iron pan that I bought cheaply when I left home over 40 years ago. Once it was all shiny and grey and now it is the blackest of black, well-seasoned and cooks anything you throw at it to perfection. I hope my daughter will treasure it when it is finally passed on to her.

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    Replies
    1. My youngest son always uses one too. He takes it around the world with him!

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    2. Mine is also now black as black Nina.

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  12. Forgive my ignorance, I have no idea what a pukka chef is.

    I have a lovely cast iron skillet which once belonged to my grandmother, but can no longer use it safely so will be passing it along to my daughter. A ceramic-coated frying pan has joined my kitchen equipment instead; it's much lighter.

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    1. A 'pukka' chef is a REAL one, not one of those TV cooks who wouldn't know one end of a sausage from the other.

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  13. Oh dear Cro, I hope you don't include Lady M's favourite in that last post !

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  14. My favorite pan in my cupboard is a cast-iron one with ribs (like you have) I use it for frying steak for my DH. As a vegetarian, I don't do much frying; much prefer oven roasted

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    Replies
    1. I use mine for steaks exclusively too. I used it last night!

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  15. I love my old cast iron pan, but admit that for simple meals, I will use my Tefal.

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    Replies
    1. I think that people on your side of the pond use those cast iron pans much more than we Europeans do. Of course, they do come from the US.

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  16. I have one cast iron pan and two non stick pans - shall stick to those Cro - can't face learning another new cleaning technique.

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    Replies
    1. Rather like my white oval plates, I wouldn't like to count how many frying pans I have. At least 20.

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  17. I like your advice about checking out boot sales for vintage steel pans that are being swapped out of kitchens for no-stick stuff.

    Your pans remind me of my crepe pan, and I am reminded to make some crepes.

    I've got some large stainless steel casserole pots and pans with copper bottoms, that I use occasionally, and an old enameled cast iron dutch oven that is perfect for some slow-cook stews and braising. However, my favorite day to day pan is a trust black cast iron frying pan that really is indispensable. I've also got a smaller cast iron frying pan and a large cast iron skillet that's good for pancakes.

    I cannot remember the last time I made pancakes.

    It's fun to see which are the kitchen favorites of the earlier commenters, too.

    Best wishes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cast iron certainly is flavour of the day in the US. I must make pancakes too.

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  18. I bought Prestiege s/s with Cu bases that were guaranteed for a lifetime, just not mine. Then a lovely set of Cuisinox that had to be replaced when I 'upgraded' to an Induction hob. All pans have a detachable handle and the lid knobs may go in an oven. This does not make me a good cook, but I know the pans inside and out are clean and shiny.

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    Replies
    1. These sound like saucepans rather than frying pans. Oven proof lids sounds like a very good idea,

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    2. Have two frying pans, Little and Large, both in the same range that have detachable handles, will go in the oven or under a grill, one of the lids will fit and they both have a non-stick lining.

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  19. I had to hide my cast iron pan from my husband. I've told him many times not to, but he always puts it in the dishwasher and rusts it. I think he does it on purpose. His mother would have beaten him for it.

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    Replies
    1. And don't YOU beat him? You should!

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