Gentlemen and ladies,
My wedding present five years ago was a set of Calphalon Hard Anodized nonstick pans with a 10 year warranty. Two of them are 10.25", one a frying pan and the other with a larger flat surface and higher, more vertical sides (which I use more because it holds more). They're Consumer Reports rated #1, but I wear them both out and send away for replacements annually. I'm sick of it.
So I started mining these threads for information on buying new daily use frying pans which will fit in my small kitchen and on my electric range (no gas available, no room for dozens of pans for every occasion). I have a few clueless questions, if you will kindly indulge a rank amateur:
1. The impression I got from reading these threads is that many pros simply use steel pans and copper pots. Is that a gross oversimplification?
2. Are carbon steel, french steel, black steel, blue steel, and black iron all the same thing?
3. What's the straight dope on seasoning a pan the first time? Use detergent to clean it first? Avoid detergent like the plague? Season on the stove top? Season in the oven? Any particular oil? How can I tell once they're properly seasoned?
4. Once a pan is seasoned, do I have to be careful about scratching the surface with metal utensils? If I de-glaze to make a sauce after cooking meat, will I destroy the seasoning? Can I boil things in it?
5. I read a brief mention on cleaning with oil and salt. Please elaborate/qualify/contradict on the proper care for a steel pan.
6. How can I ensure that the pans I buy are awesome and not crap?
Thank you kindly.
P.S. As a recap for anyone else reading this in the same boat as me, brand names I've read mentioned include Mauviel, All-Clad, DeBuyer and Paderno (the last two both apparently owned by World Cuisine). For nonstick pans, some recommend Scanpan for its durability and non-bird-killing qualities.
Some steel pan links:
Some nonstick pan links: