Why does the food turn out poorly using an All-Clad Stainless-Steel Fry Pan


I have an All-Clad frying pan, the precise one shown below:


All-Clad Stainless-Steel Fry Pan

I made this purchase out of curiosity after reading about the benefits of this professional grade cookware (from the above Amazon link):

  • Beautifully polished, magnetic stainless exterior layer.
  • Pure aluminum core that not only covers the bottom of the pan but also extends up the sides. This allows for great heat conductivity as well as an even heat distribution so you won’t have "hot spots" when cooking.
  • Stainless-steel interior layer/cooking surface.
  • Long, polished stainless, stay-cool handles.
  • Sturdy, non-corrosive stainless-steel rivets won't react with foods.
  • Polished stainless-steel lids fit evenly with the pan’s edges to seal in flavor of your foods.
  • The All-Clad Stainless collection is compatible with an induction stovetop (with the exception of a few pieces) in addition to gas and electric stovetops.
  • The Stainless collection is dishwasher-safe, excluding pieces with a nonstick cooking surface.

However, as a novice cook, I can't seem to cook anything as well using this pan compared to a non-stick teflon pan. Food seems to stick or become overcooked easily or just not turn out well.

Have I fallen victim to a weak product sold on marketing hype? Or am I simply too novice to properly utilize this pan? What cooking skills might I be missing to properly utilize this tool? What tools should I be using instead?

What reasons might there be for me sucking at using this pan?

Best Answer

You've got a great pan and in a short time I'm sure you'll come to love it.

When using a standard pan (one without non-stick coating), heat your pan dry over high heat until you can hold your hand about 6-inches above the cooking surface and feel the heat radiating upward. This allows the tiny cracks and crevices that are imperceptible to the bare hand to expand and when the oil is added, it will coat and create a more even cooking surface.

Add just enough oil to lightly coat the surface. Adding to much oil leads to pan-frying which is fine if you're frying chicken but not what you want when searing and sauteing meat. There should just be a thin film across the bottom of the pan. An additional benefit to first heating the pan is the fact that it will actually take less oil to coat the pan due to the decreased viscosity. When the oil hits the hot pan it will instantly heat and should shimmer across the bottom like water on a freshly cleaned windshield.

You don't put the oil in the pan first because the longer oils and fats heat the quicker they break down and smoke. If you were to add cold oil and cold food to a cold pan and then start heating, you just end up with a big sticky mess.

Make sure you're prepared to add the food to the pan once the oil goes in otherwise the oil will start to burn.

The issue with burning and overcooking is going to be a matter of controlling the heat. Start searing and sauteeing over high heat because as food is added it will suck a good deal of heat from the pan. If it isn't extremely hot to begin with you'll end up with a steaming mess of gray colored meat or vegetables that aren't doing much cooking. Once the meat is browned but needs further cooking you can always turn down the heat to prevent excessive browning and crusting before the interior is done.

Even if you aren't planning to do a pan sauce, or if you've burnt what was cooking in the pan, you'll still want to deglaze with some water while the pan is hot (you can reheat it if it has already cooled down) so that you can scraped up the cooked on bits more easily and have less scrubbing to do when cleaning the pan.