Today I had a lovely discussion with a friend of why you want stainless steel pots/pans [as opposed to non-stick]. In a word, fond. Fond=flavor, and we want lots and lots of flavor! The main reason I hear some K.I.T. (KitchenNuts-in-Training) aghast that I would suggest using SS is because they fear that “the food will stick!” That, my friend, is fond. That lovely, beautiful, yummy stuck on parts. :) And, in some cases, those stuck-on parts are a sign that A) your pan wasn’t hot enough when you laid the food down or B) you got a little too enthralled and moved the food around the pan, instead of letting it rest.
See, when you cook food on a SS pan, it gets nice and brown and crispy (mmmm – crispy!). When you cook food (chicken for example), it can only get slightly brown, but it never gets that nice crispy texture. Now, if we don’t have that nice, crispy texture, what on earth is encasing the yummy juicy flavor? Oh, nothing?? All the juices are running out of the chicken breast into the pan? Then, why are you using non-stick pans? Oh! Clean-up is easier?
Nay, I disagree! Which brings us back to fond – when you remove those nicely browned and crispy chicken breasts from the pan, rejoice for the fond left behind! For that is the beginnings of a fantastic sauce. Now is when your creativity comes in to make a lovely pan sauce for those yummy chickens. And, no–we don’t open a pouch of “McCormick’s au jus” and add water (ugh.). All you need is some acid: wine, dealcoholized wine, lemon or lime or orange juice (fresh-squeeze, of course!), or any sort of vinegar (apple cider, raspberry wine, balsalmic, etc.). Throw a tablespoon or two into the pan along with some chicken stock (again, homemade preferred) and bring to boil. Toss in a tablespoon of butter, freshly-ground pepper, sea salt. Once the butter melts, you’ve got an amazingly yummy sauce to pour of those nice, tender juicy chicken breasts. Oh, and the perk? The acid cleans up the pan lickety-split.
Wow. I’m hungry. So, back to the beginning – yah, we can’t do this with a non-stick pan. :)
I can, however, make some nice suggestions for pan sauces:
- Orange juice with dried cranberries (such as CraisinsÂ®)
- Balsamic vinegar with shallots
- Apple Cider vinegar with dijon or whole grain mustard
- Red wine with dried cherries
Get the picture? :D