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The Perfect Pot and Pan Collection

I just signed up for a year’s subscription to the on-line version of Cooks Illustrated and wanted to take advantage of my $17.95 investment, so I read their opinion of the ideal cooking equipment.

I have it. The perfect pot and pan collection. With one exception.

I own a big stainless-steel pot, 4 qt., with a mixed metal bottom, a 2 qt. a saute pan, and two skillets all of similar materials.

Cooks Illustrated recommended a non-stick fry pan instead of the steel pans, and I disagree. For one thing, non-stick makes the pan disposable — not sustainable — because you must throw it away once the coating starts is no good. Unless you like eating plastic, you must discontinue use when the disintegration begins, and that’s the hard part. When do you know it has started? When I think about it, I do not want to spend any time looking at my Teflon, and eventually going out to buy new pans.

The drawback to a steel fry pan is that something might stick to it. To avoid this, just use a little more oil. Just don’t use bad oil and there will be no harm to your diet. Saute or fry at the correct temperature and food will not absorb oil after the surface has been cooked. Let’s think about the cooking of eggs because it’s one of the stickies fry jobs.

I used plenty of good olive oil to cook the eggs pictured (and cut, unfortunately, before the camera arrived) in an 8-inch stainless steel All-Clad fry pan. The oil coated the bottom and I could see a small wave as I rotated it around the pan. This is still an almost unmeasurable depth, maybe a millimeter. By liquid measure it was one tablespoon. And I added about 1 teaspoon more for the second pair of eggs. Olive oil isn’t a high temperature oil so it won’t make a crisp crust on the bottom of the egg, and that’s perfect for me. I like them softer.

I crack the eggs into a bowl so they are easy to add to the pan. I slid the pair into the pan that had been warmed on a medium gas flame, and as soon as they stopped spreading, I ran a dinner knife around the edge so the oil stayed under them and didn’t come over the top. Flipped them when the whites were mostly set up, made sure there was oil underneath. If a bit sticks, the spatula will take this off after you’ve put the eggs on the plate. If you waste a little oil, this expense will easily be made up in the money you won’t have to shell out for a new non-stick pan. If you get the oil and temperature right, very little will be absorbed and the eggs will just ride on the surface.

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