I hadn’t recharged my batterie de cuisine with a new pot or pan for a couple of years, so when I went on a recent reconnaissance mission through Zabar’s, I was startled by all the choices. Every manufacturer seems to offer a different metallic mille-feuille, with layer upon layer of heat-conducting alloys and food-friendly surface coatings. There are a variety of nonstick coatings: supposedly more durable versions of Teflon, more environmentally friendly versions of Teflon, “green” alternatives to Teflon. Even good old cast iron has had a makeover. It now comes conveniently preseasoned.
Pots and pans have a straightforward job: to deliver heat from the burner or oven to the food, and release the food to us neatly and cleanly when we want it.
Are the differences in how pans heat and release really significant? Would I improve the odds of getting my favorite potato galette to slip intact from the pan if I used something other than my usual stainless-coated aluminum?