The frying pan

Into the fire

Into the fire

In the pan, we sear, we grill, we brown...it’s the prime utensil for mastering heat, a tool for expressing our creativity in the kitchen. Its shape has always been that of a small dish, round, in direct contact with a heat source. Its long riveted or welded handle keeps burns and spatters at bay, extending our culinary reach.

Iron, copper, cast iron, steel, stainless steel...over the years the frying pan has followed, adopted and incorporated almost every technological development in metal and protective coatings. Ironically, the era of sustainability has encouraged us to rediscover the natural non-stick virtues of our grandmothers’ iron or steel pans, which we thought were definitively confined to the attic. 

A panoply of choices

Each type of pan has its uses, advantages and disadvantages. For example, did you know that while steel is heavier, its conductivity makes it ideal for induction cooking? That stainless steel sticks? That non-stick pans,  easily damaged and criticized for the composition of their coating, are unsuitable for vacuum cooking? The pan’s round shape is obtained by stamping a disc from  a sheet of metal. Chefs favour steel which, after curing (heating fat or oil to create a non-stick layer), can resist anything.

The right diameter

The best factor for determining size is the number of guests you cook for most often: 20 cm for 2 people, 24-26 cm for 2-3, 26-28 cm for 4, and so on. If you only want one pan, go for the 28 cm. Just ensure the pan’s diameter is greater than that of the heat source. To create a sauté pan, simply put a lid on it.

 

A cure of sticking

Don’t throw away that rusty old iron skillet! Clean it in hot water with an abrasive sponge. Scrape, drain, dry – then cure it as you should a new iron or steel pan to get the most out of it. Boil potato peelings covered with water in it for 10 to 15 minutes. Throw them away. Dry the pan without rubbing it. Rinse. Return to a high heat, covering the bottom with oil. Let it heat for 5 minutes. When the oil is very hot, drain the pan then wipe it with a paper towel. Brown stains are a sign that the pan is ready to use. Over time, it will brown further and become non-stick, especially if you clean it with very hot water. Dry it and oil it with absorbent paper before putting it away. If it starts to stick again, repeat the curing process. A very ecological method!

Magic in a pan Its temperature rises easily beyond the 140° necessary for the rapid occurrence of the Maillard reaction: the caramelization of sugars in contact with the amino acids of proteins. Food “seared” in this way is covered with a crust that prevents dehydration. It becomes golden on the surface and soft inside. The rounded edge of the frying pan also allows for the deglazing of cooking juices and the addition of liquids, the basis of two marvellous inventions of French cuisine: reductions and sauces.

A little tip

 

Our grandmothers had a pan for every purpose because of cooking odours. Immediate and careful washing eliminates them. But not with vinegar or lemon: their acidity makes the metal rust!

 

Liste des recettes associées à l’ustensile

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