This is not so much a review as it is a comparison post. My old anodized pans were looking shabby, so I removed them to the camping supply box and brought out my trusty cast iron. But my dear husband doesn’t love cooking with cast iron; he has trouble modulating the heat and these pans are tricky for omelettes. I have been studying stainless options (maybe a Christmas gift for the omelet man) but have not been able to narrow down the choices. At this point, it is coming down to how the handle feels.
I digress. The biggest thing I am interested in understanding right now is the best way to use the cast iron pans vs. the stainless pans. And I have a number of questions that I thought might be of interest to others, so here is my comparison:
When do you add the oil to the pan, before heating or when hot?
Cast Iron pans – Add oil before heating the pan, or heat without oil to sear meat. The meat can be brushed with a little oil before hitting the pan, but some cuts will not require extra fat.
Stainless steel pans – Add oil to the hot pan for best results.
Can cast iron and stainless steel pans go in the oven?
CI – Absolutely, straight from stove top to oven to table. Use a hot pad; handles are very hot!
SS – Only if the handle is heat resistant. Some pans are only oven safe up to 400F, check the manufacturer’s recommendations.
What is the best way to clean a cast iron or stainless steel pan?
CI – Hot water, as hot as you can stand it, with a strong scrubby brush. Don’t use soap, it can take off the seasoning of the pan.
SS – Soap and water for most everyday; Barkeeper’s Friend on burned-on messes. Barkeeper’s Friend is also great for the bottoms of pans!
When to use stainless steel vs. cast iron?
CI – Great for searing steaks, upside down cakes, bacon, fritattas. Not good for acidic foods cooked for long periods of time (ex: spaghetti sauce). Least expensive option, but heavy, and handles can get very hot.
SS – Great for items that need a little browning, or slow-cooked sauces, or poaching lightly. Good all around pan, and generally not as heavy as CI. More expensive, however.