I’ve heard a lot about the danger of using Teflon cookware. Even though most of the warnings involved using even slightly scratched pans – which mine seemed to be as soon as I unloaded them from my shopping bags – others seemed to instruct cooks to hunt out all nonstick items in their kitchens in HazMat suits .
In an effort to avoid the many reported side effects, I continued using my tried-and-true cast skillets, baking pans and soup pots, thereby avoiding altogether considering whether or not the warnings were believable or not. Now, an article in my recent copy of Food & Wine has made me reconsider the idea of nonstick cookwear and educated me about the different types available.
Some internet research also clarified some of the warnings for me. For the most part, consumers are warned to avoid using damaged Teflon or nonstick cooking utensils in order to minimize our exposure to the chemicals that make the pot or pan nonstick in the first place. Cooks are also warned against using these types of pans under conditions of high heat such as sautéing or flash browning. But these type of warning irritate me: overall, all cooking involves high heat – at least to my fingers. I’m not interested in having to review the conditions under which a given pan can be used or minutely examining pan coatings with a magnifying glass while my stomach growls for dinner.
A delightful article by Christine Quinlan in my March issue of Food & Wine, has given me some illustrated nonstick options to choose from, as well as a reasonable list of usage instructions that don’t seem overwhelming. These options are not inexpensive, so I won’t be throwing out any of Grandma’s cast-iron anytime soon, but they are tempting. Allow me to share a bit of Ms. Quinlan’s wisdom:
Ms. Quinlan reviews six types of nonstick skillets, two of which are classified as such without any type of chemical coatings. The first is an 11″ d5 square All-Cladpan available at Williams-Sonoma for $129. The second pan, a Solea from Fissler, has a bumpy, textured surface rather than a nonstick coating to keep food from sticking and runs at about $155. The Lodge line provides pre-seasoned cast-iron – sort of a fancy edition of Grandma’s stuff and without any chemical nonstick material – that starts at $23. Demeyere is a “ControlInduc” pan which “resists overheating.” It was reportedly designed for induction cooking but works fine on any stovetop. All this technology is expensive: this piece of kitchen art starts at $240. Anolon offers a gorgeous, deep 3-quart sauté pan known as the Nouvelle Copper which is lidded and safe for oven use. This marvelous looking piece is available for $130 at the company’s website.
Nonstick rules include using only plastic or wooden tools while cooking in these pots, seasoning the pans periodically, and choosing heavier pans that are less likely to overheat. Additional recommendations include the painful instruction to throw away scratched pans as well as avoiding high heat that might increase exposure to chemical nonstick ingredients and – of course – paying for quality.
Christine Quinlan, “Best New Nonstick Pans,” Food & Wine, March 2011