The dish on non-stick pans

Q: I’m looking to buy non-stick pans. What brand would you recommend? (Price does not matter; I want to buy one set and not have to worry about it again.)

A: Aim for mid-priced non-stick pans. T-fal is my favorite brand; it is available in good department stores everywhere. They create a good-looking pot and lid that cooks with little or no fat and lasts a long time.

T-fal pots come in single, individual packages or in kitchen sets. They are sturdy, yet light and easy to handle. Best of all, they evenly disperse heat across the bottom of the pan or pot. This prevents burning and cooks all food equally. Cheap non-stick pans tend to have hot spots that cook unevenly and burn food.

The newest innovation at T-fal is a gnarled, irregular cooking surface on the pan. Now, I know from experience that smooth pan surfaces are better for cooking and cleaning than rough surfaces. But this innovation proved me wrong! It cooks foods without fat, doesn’t stick and cleans up fine afterward.

One word of caution: Like most chefs, you may have learned to sear and brown on top of the stove and finish cooking in the oven, in the same pan. Do not try this with most non-stick pans; the handles will melt all over your oven. T-fal pans, however, are ovenable — up to 500 degrees F. That fact alone impressed me enough to use T-fal pans often — even though I bought them for my wife.

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