A blue carbon steel pan is better than a cast iron pan

I don’t know about you, but my pots and pans are wearing out from all the extra cooking I’ve done. I also feel like I have too much – I have a pan for searing (my cast iron), a pan for sautéing (my stainless steel) and a pan for when I’m lazy, and therefore the most used ( my non-stick). Each of these pans serves a different purpose and is irreplaceable and a necessary accessory in my kitchen. Or, so I thought.

Pretty much begging for help, I recently spoke with Julia Sullivan, the chef named James Beard and owner of Henrietta Red in Nashville, Tennessee. She told me that a carbon steel pan, especially the one from Made In, could “replace all the pots in my kitchen” and solve my problems.

Blue carbon steel frying pan

“Carbon steel is the best of both worlds,” she told me. “You get the lightweight properties of stainless steel, which makes it ideal for stir-frying, along with the thermal conductivity and retention you would have with cast iron.” But it gets better from there. “It’s a thinner metal,” she continued, “which means it can heat up really quickly and conduct heat even better than cast iron.”

She then compared the sides of the Made In Pan to a wok. “The high curves, which you won’t get with a cast iron skillet, make it easier to cook or even fry, so nothing splashes on your stove or the floor.”

“Plus,” she continued, “it’s easy to clean.”

Now I was intrigued. “All you have to do is wipe off the oil with a paper towel and maybe run some water on it if it’s really dirty,” she says. “And that’s it. Really.”

I had to try this on my own. Made In was kind enough to help me get hold of it, and I left. The only roadblock? Seasoning. But even that turned out to be easier than expected. To create a non-stick surface, I wet a paper towel with oil, heated the pan, and ran a few coats of oil all over it. What’s really cool is that the seasoning continues to develop as you cook more and more, forming a black patina which is a somewhat invulnerable non-stick surface on the pan. The more I cooked with the pan, the better it was, and soon enough my old pots were out on the street.

In short, Julia was right: “Unless you’re an absolute cast iron fanatic, carbon steel is the way to go.”

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