We used to have a thing against non-stick cooking pans. Something in the mental archives about Teflon + metal spatulas + time = flaking Teflon + cancer…
Didn’t own one, didn’t want one, and besides, the plastic spatulas of my acquaintance over the years have all been frustratingly flimsy and melted on contact with anything hotter than, say, 98.6°.
Eating a melted plastic spatula was also reputed to be not fabulous for your health. So, being seriously in love with each other and wanting a decade or six to enjoy that state, we resolved to not eat plastic or Teflon, even if it meant living a deliriously happy life with food stuffs stuck like chuck to our frying pans.
Then last month, I cooked the world’s most pristine, perfect omelet in my mom’s new Teflon pan, and I changed our minds. (About Teflon, that is, not about my dear Rick and I living happily ever after until one of us tips off the perch.)
I had two pieces of research to do though, before I could in clean conscience introduce Teflon to our kitchen.
First was to check on the current health science around Teflon and how likely it was to mess with our mutual plans to stay alive for a goodly while.
This, according to the American Cancer Society website:
“Teflon® is a brand name for a man-made chemical known as polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). It has been in commercial use since the 1940s. It has a wide variety of applications because it is extremely stable (it doesn’t react with other chemicals) and can provide an almost frictionless surface. Most people are familiar with it as a non-stick coating surface for pans and other cookware. It is also used in many other products, such as fabric protectors, most politicians, and banks ‘too big to fail.’”
(I just inserted the part about politicians and banks. They weren’t listed in the original ACS text. It doesn’t mean, however, that it isn’t true, and that I’m not really pissed off about “Teflon” people and institutions. But this is a rant for another day and probably a different medium.)
Apparently, it never really was the Teflon, per se, that caused the cancer scare. The ACS site goes on to say, (and I didn’t insert anything in this next bit at all, so please read it in full confidence of there being no further smarty pants inserted editorials):
“Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), also known as C8, is another man-made chemical. It is used in the process of making Teflon and similar chemicals (known as fluorotelomers), although it is burned off during the process and is not present in significant amounts in the final products.”
The website goes on to say (and here I paraphrase): fuggedaboudit.
Plus, T-Fal, the leading supplier of Teflon-based cookware, has taken this a step further.
According to the informative packaging, T-Fal don’t have no truck with PFOAs anymore. So, we’re good there.
Secondly, I couldn’t remember what brand/style/size/etc. of Teflon saute pan Cook’s Illustrated had recommended in their List of Best Kitchen Equipment, Pots and Pans section.
Fortunately, every once in a while, our own past blog posts comes in handy for things beyond remembering how ADORABLE Winston was as a puppy, or what fun a trip on a narrow-gauge railway can be, or how jaw-dropping gorgeous Teton Valley is in January. One quick trip through the “Food & Recipes” category here at www.rickandkathy.com, and… Bingo!
One flick of the wrist, click of the mouse, swish of a credit card… and two days later, we’re the proud owners of a new T-fal Nonstick 12.5-Inch Fry Pan.
(Note: farm-fresh eggs and home-made spelt sourdough toast not included.)
This is one high-tech frying pan, my friends. That red dot, for instance?
It’s nothing less than an officially trademarked “Thermo-Spot,” evidently engineered at great expense to indicate when your pan is hot.
Personally, I usually just wait for the smoke to start, but apparently, that’s not a good idea with Teflon products.“The Science of Good Cooking” (Cook’s Illustrated Cookbooks) recommends adding a little oil to the pan while heating. The oil will start to smoke at around 400°, well before the 600° necessary for non-stick cookware to start fuming the nasty stuff.)
At minimum, the dot’s existence demonstrates a commitment to the crafting of new millenium cookware that inspires a robust confidence in the rest of the unit.
For instance, the packaging also states that the entire pan, including “ergonomic, stay-cool silicone handle,” is oven-proof to a temperature of 350°, and that the pan is “safe for use with metal utensils.”
Really? That just seems cruel, somehow. If we were going for the Teflon pan, it only seemed right that we spring for whatever Cook’s Illustrated recommends in the non-metal spatula department. (I had great intentions last year to do a “Cook’s Illustrated List of Handy Tools” but got distracted by why I’m crazy about Rick, fabulous buckwheat pancakes, and a great horned owl who showed up next door, and I never quite got around to sharing the list. Stand by… said list to show up in the next post or two so I can find it when I need it down the road.)
Meanwhile, I went to our own well-loved hardcopy of Cook’s Illustrated, “The Science of Good Cooking” and discovered their “plastic spatula” of choice is the “Matfer Bourgeat Plain Pelton Spatula Exoglass.” At around $12, I figure you’re paying $2 per word and the spatula’s free!
I had never heard of “exoglass” before, but, per wiki answers: “It is a special hi-tech plastic developed by Matfer of France. It is used in the handles of their pastry utensils. It is extremely durable, hygienic, and heat resistant (both hot and cold extremes).”
Flick, click, swish… and thanks to the good folk at Amazon Prime, we own one highly rated, light-weight yet sturdy, well-engineered, and guaranteed Teflon-friendly spatula that’s heat resistant up to 430 degree and cleans like a snap. It doesn’t scratch our new pan, feels nice in the hand, is wide enough to support and flip a pancake, has a perfect thin edge to skootch under delicate fish or eggs, and as far as we know, doesn’t cause cancer.
See how easily our scrambled eggs are liberated from the perfectly preheated surface?!
It’s a keeper.
And see how nice our new spatula looks in Rick’s fine hand as he cooks me breakfast?
He’s a keeper, too.
“Matfer” rang a bell as a brand, but we couldn’t think why until we remembered they’re the folks who make the non-stick baking mat we use all the time in a sheet pan when baking cookies. No need to grease the pan with butter, food really doesn’t stick, and clean-up is super easy:
|Silpat Non-Stick Baking Mat|
|Here’s the go-to volume on our cookbook shelf for all things “why” in the way we cook:|
|…and our two new kitchen tools covered in this blogpost:|
|Matfer Bourgeat Plain Pelton Spatula Exoglass|
|T-fal E9380864 Professional Nonstick 12.5-Inch Saute Pan|