Introducing guest posts from Marc, which I’m affectionally calling “Marc’s Corner.”
Marc is a fellow member/moderator of the Home Cooking community on Google+. He’s also a semi-retired Food & Beverage professional-turned home cooking enthusiast. He’s been kind enough to share some of his culinary experience and expertise to help you cook better in your own kitchen.
Some people seem to have this fear of cooking with stainless steel cookware choosing either a teflon or non-stick coated pot or pan over a stainless steel one. And I can understand where they are coming from.
Non-stick pans are a dime a dozen and some of them can be had for a bargain. Non-stick pots and pans literally endorses what the product stand for. Food does not stick on them. They are ideal for quick and easy frying, general cooking and they are definitely easy to wash.
Stainless steel cookware on the other hand is a different beast altogether. You need to treat them with a little respect. When not used correctly, food gets burnt and stick to the sides. Sometimes, it becomes almost an impossibility to remove.
On the other hand, stainless steel cookware is one of the most durable and versatile cookware invented by man. Modern and well made stainless steel pots and pans even come with a 3-ply base to distribute heat evenly.
I am not advocating stainless steel but it is my preferred choice and I hope this short article will convince you to try cooking with stainless steel if you haven’t already done so. You won’t become an expert at it overnight but over time and a little practice, I hope that you will truly appreciate its qualities.
First off, understand how stainless steel reacts to heat. Once you understand and learn how to control heat, you are practically halfway there.
First rule of thumb, you must always pre-heat your stainless steel cookware. And I am not talking about turning up the fire for 5 seconds and get going. Keep the heat steady and constant. No roaring fire please. Respect and master heat, do not let it become your master. Control is the keyword here. Ok, so this is starting to sound like something from a kung fu movie. But let me tell you this, it is.
Now that you’ve pre-heated your cookware, ow do you know it is ready? Test it with water. Let a few drops of water trickle onto the surface. If they start ‘dancing’ on the surface, you’re all set.
Add a small amount of oil, a teaspoon to a table spoon depending on what you intend to cook and let that oil heat up. Don’t go Rambo on me now and start throwing food in. Wait till it gets hot and I mean smoking hot but not hot to the point when your cooking oil starts degrading and burning. You will know it’s ready when you see a wisps of smoke emanating from the surface. When you add meat in, it should be able to slide around. If the meat sticks, it’s not hot enough!
Why go through all this trouble you might ask? Stainless steel surfaces makes it easy for you to brown and caramelised food, retaining all those wonderful flavours that you think only those professional chefs in fancy and expensive restaurants can achieve. That brown stuff on the cooking surface is where all the flavours reside. Use it well. Well you’ve now moved one step forward.
With practice and the occasional screw-ups, your cooking skills will gradually improve and soon you will be able to bring out fantastic flavours from food that may even surprise you.