1. Aluminum pans are light and thin but don’t hold heat evenly. They have a tendency to warp over time. If you are cooking anything that is white or cream-based, the metal of the pan will react to the ingredients and cause them to change in color and flavor. These pans are not recommended for home use. 00:16
2. Stainless steel pans are durable and non-reactive. These pans are best for preserving the flavor and color of food. Select one with a thick bottom to distribute heat more evenly. 00:37
3. Cast iron pans are thick and hold heat well, but require special maintenance. With proper care, they should always be shiny. To heat treat or "season" the cast iron pan, get it very hot and rub it down with a neutral oil. Never use soap to clean it; only use hot water and a metal scrub brush. Wash the pan, wipe it dry, and place it on the heat again to boil off any excess water that could cause rusting. Re-season with oil after every wash. 01:15
4. Cast iron that is properly taken care of will be relatively “non-stick”. Non-stick pans are not typically used in restaurants. The coating has a tendency to come off in the food when the pan is scraped with utensils. Also, when it gets really hot the coating can become toxic as the coating is not designed to withstand high heat. 02:34
5. Cast iron pans are effective, all-purpose pans for cooking. They are best used for searing and roasting meats, vegetables, and any products that would benefit from a non-stick surface. Stainless steel pans are ideal for cream sauces, butter sauces, pastry, chocolate, and other light mixtures because they cook evenly and the material of the pan does not react with ingredients. Aluminum tends to change the flavor and color of delicate foods, and does not evenly distribute or hold heat for other products. 03:06
What You'll Need
- Aluminum pan
- Stainless steel pan
- Cast iron pan
The best way to clean your pans differs based on their material. As Chef Michael mentions, cast iron pans should only be washed with water and need to be seasoned with neutral oil after every wash. Copper pans also require special maintenance. Stainless steel pans can be washed with soap and water, or placed in the dishwasher without being damaged.
Copper pans conduct heat well, but are reactive with certain foods and can sometimes impart a metallic taste. Copper also requires regular polishing.
Saucepans are versatile vessels, best used for cooking liquids such as butter and soups, as well as pasta. They will range in size, but are typically round and deep. They can be used with or without a lid.
Stock pots have flat, wide bottoms with tall raised sides. They are typically used for soups, stocks, and broths, but can be used for many other purposes.
Sauté pans are round and shallow with a flat bottom and straight, raised sides. They differ from skillets, which are similarly shaped but with slanted sides. These pans are best for searing, roasting, pan-frying, and sautéing.
A Dutch oven is an enamel-coated cast iron stew pot. They are thick, heavy, and hold heat well. They are ideal for braising and slow cooking.