Even though there are plenty of non-stick pans available in the market, sometimes stainless-steel pans are what you need.
They’re great for building rich sauces that are packed full of flavors or when you want your food to develop a crisp golden-brown crust.
In this article, we’ll take a look at types of foods you can cook in stainless-steel pans and tips on how to care for these pans so they can last a long time.
What to Cook in Stainless Steel Pans?
Wondering what you can cook in stainless steel cookware freely without worrying that most of it will end up sticking to the pan?
Since stainless steel can cook anything crisp and brown, you can:
- Prepare a deliciously crunchy vegetable stir-fry
- Sauté onions and sear the steak you need for different recipes without running into any complications
- Cook egg-fried rice and fried chicken for dinner on a busy weeknight.
It’s important to note that dry food is best for stainless steel pan because water combats the heat and brings the temperature of the oil down which isn’t ideal for cooking.
Try not to cook with vegetables that have just been washed, and make sure they have dried properly before tossing them into the pan.
It’s also advisable to pat down your cuts of meat with a paper towel to wipe away any surface moisture. Just like water, cold food also combats heat. If you add cold food to a stainless-steel pan, it will lower the temperature. You should wait until cold vegetables and meat have come closer to room temperature before cooking them.
Then there are foods that have the tendency to stick, no matter what you do. One big reason why people struggle with cooking in stainless-steel pans is that they tend to flip their food too soon.
When you’re cooking larger pieces of food like chicken, steak, or fish, you should wait until you can easily remove it and then flip it over.
You should note that the surface temperature of these pan changes naturally when you add a large piece of meat into it, regardless of how long you waited for it to reach room temperature.
Once you’ve added the food, the reduction in the temperature causes the pores on the surface to widen. As the pan comes back to the desired temperature, the pores will get reduced and cause the food to stick.
You have to be patient until it returns to the right temperature because that’s when it’ll release the food by itself and you’ll have no trouble flipping it.
Only with time and practice, you’ll be able to master this technique and prepare beautifully crisp and evenly cooked meats.
The primary culprit of food sticking to stainless steel pan is heated. When you add oil to a hot pan, it becomes a protective barrier between the surface of the pan and the food.
Even though your pan may look perfect and smooth, there are tiny pores on the surface that the oil can seep into.
Once you add the food, the natural moisture in the food will react with the hot oil and result in a steam-like effect. This makes it easier for you to lift the food from the surface and prevent sticking.
You’ll know your pan is too cold if you don’t hear the sizzle and your food may end up sticking to the pan. The sound basically signals the reaction between the moisture and the heat.
If you’ve kept the heat too high, it may even cause the food to burn slightly and you won’t be able to avoid the burnt flavor in the finished dish.
How to Cook with Stainless Steel Pans
In order to reap the benefits, you need to care for your stainless pans the right way. Follow the tips below for smooth cooking.
- It’s true that when you’re cooking in non-stick pans, you need to minimize preheating time. But when it comes to stainless steel cookware, you should try not to skip preheating because when these pans are cold, they’re quite porous, even if you can’t notice it. The edges of these pores are what ultimately cause your food to stick.
- When you preheat your stainless-steel pans, the pores get reduced and you’re left with a smoother cooking surface. After the pan is properly heated, you can add oil to close the pores as well, just make sure you’re not adding it before the pan is heated through or it’ll sink into the pores.
- To determine the right way to preheat your stainless-steel cookware, you should use the water drop test. Here’s how it works: add a splash of water to your pan when the rim becomes too hot to touch. If the water stays in a ball and rolls around on the surface, the pan is ready to be used.
- It’s important to note that your pan can go from preheated to overheated really fast, so make sure you have your ingredients ready before preheating.
- Once the pan has been preheated and oiled, you can add in the meat. You’ll know it’s okay to flip the meat and it’s perfectly seared and browned when you have no trouble lifting it from the pan. If you have to use a spatula to try and lift it, it hasn’t seared properly, and you’ll have to wait a little more.
- The brown bits formed after some of your food gets stuck to the pan are called ‘fond’. You shouldn’t get rid of them because they can add a nice flavor to your dish. All you need to do is deglaze the pan. Once you’ve removed the food, carefully drain the fat, and add the stock, water, or even wine into the pan.
- When the liquid comes to a boil, use a spatula to scrape off the brown bits. Keep doing this until the liquid gets reduced by half. Add your choice of seasonings and drizzle this sauce over your dish for an exciting flavor.
Caring for Stainless Steel Cookware
When you know just how to use and care for your stainless-steel pans, you’ll be able to get the most out of them. They can last for a long time in your kitchen if you care for them properly.
These pans work best when they’re combined with aluminum which happens to be an excellent conductor.
When these two metals work together, aluminum allows for even heat distribution whereas steel helps retain the right temperature.
This advanced construction in stainless-steel cookware allows the cooking experience to be much easier and enjoyable as you’ll be able to get evenly cooked ingredients and prepare almost any dish that comes to your mind.
Tips for Cleaning Stainless Steel Pans
Just like other pans, there’s some upkeep associated with stainless-steel cookware.
To keep your pans looking as good as new and up to snuff, you need to figure out the right ways to clean and maintain them.
Cleaning your stainless-steel pans is surprisingly easy and there are many ways to get the job done right.
Here, we’ll cover a few tips on how to get rid of stubborn oil or food spots, and prevent nasty scratches, burn marks, or discoloration.
- Avoid running your hot pots and pans under the faucet in an effort to cool them down because they can easily warp when they’re exposed to extreme temperatures. It’s important that you let them cool down on their own before you can think about washing them.
- Once you’re done cooking and you can see that the pan is still quite warm, use a paper towel to wipe off any excess oil or leftover food particles.
- Another great way to effectively get rid of stubborn food bits and grease is to return the pan to medium heat. When it’s hot, pour about a cup of water into it to deglaze and scrape away the burnt food bits using a wooden spatula or spoon.
- Drain the water in the sink and use a paper towel to wipe it once more before cleaning it with a soft cloth and hot soapy water.
- Avoid using metal scrubbing pads on your stainless-steel pans as that can leave nasty scratches and damage the smooth surface.
- It’s not advisable to wash these pans in the dishwasher because it can be quite harsh on the material and may even leave a residue.
You need to learn how to cook in stainless-steel pans properly if you wish to get the most out of them.
Avoid cooking cold or wet foods to prevent sticking and remember to keep the heat to a medium to avoid overheating and burning your food.
With the tips we’ve mentioned in this blog post, you can prepare all kinds of delicious foods and care for these pans properly so they can last a lifetime in your kitchen.
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