I'd like to add a Carbon-Steel skillet to my collection of cast iron and All-Clad pots and pans. I have no experience with this material however, and I was hoping the Food52 community might offer some advice on how you use your pan.
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Paella pans are traditionally carbon steel; apart from that, it's limited in my kitchen to knives.
Woks are also traditionally carbon steel.
CV- c'est vrai- haven't used my traditional wok or kadhai in some time, but I think my Joyce Chen is carbon steel under the non stick.
Eggs, for one. Also potatoes.
Carbon steel is also the traditional pan material for crepe pans, if you're into that sort of thing.
In a traditional French restaurant kitchen, a carbon steel pan is the standard fry pan. Want to sear a duck breast? Carbon steel skillet. Want to reheat a duck confit thigh? Carbon steel skillet. Want to cook bacon? Carbon steel skillet.
I have a set of de Buyer carbon steel skillets. One thing I find is that their sloped sides and longer handles are far better for flipping things than a standard cast iron skillet. American-style cast iron skillets have short handles and steep sides which don't help perform this action (sauté or literally "jump").
In many ways an American-style cast iron skillet is a pretty close replacement for a carbon steel skillet, but for sure, some of the carbon steel ones are designed for way better handling.
Of course, there's a detailed feature from Daniel Gritzer at Serious Eats:
comparing carbon steel to cast iron. As I noted below, Gritzer also mentions the superiority of the typical carbon steel skillet design for sautéing small items (a photo accompanies the article).
The Serious Eats article links to a Mafter Bourgeat pan at Amazon, very similar to the Mauviels that Food52 sells. Both appear to be comparable to my deBuyer pans.
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I'd add bacon to that combination as well. In any case it's a good way to season a new carbon steel pan. Cut bacon strips into halves or quarters and melt down into fatty goodness.
I also have a set of deBuyer pans and agree that they are very versatile. I mostly sautee and use like a wok since they have a large stove surface contact. Like a seasoned cast iron pan, I don't use them for braising. I imagine that the acid ingredients would strip away the pan's patina and it wouldn't taste as good as one made in a porcelainized cast iron Dutch oven.
(And the creamiest, too.)
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