A friend of mine buys a non-stick skillet almost every couple of months. As soon as her lightweight aluminum pan gets battered--coating peeled off and sides laced with golden grease marks--it finds its way to the trash. "No problem, it's dirt-cheap at this big discount store," says my friend.
Scanpan 2001, "the last non-stick cookware you ever need to buy," according to the logo of its manufacturer in Denmark, is definitely not dirt-cheap but certainly makes economical sense. Nowadays, non-stick also makes sense for low-fat meals. Scanpan 2001 has recessed "dimples" on its cooking surface that not only ensure no sticking but catch any fat that drips from the food.
Called Greblon, the coating system bonded in the pressure-cast aluminum Danish cookware is a hard but porous ceramic material. Rather than just coated on, it is actually fired-in at a temperature of 36,000 degrees Fahrenheit, making it a lifetime coating. On a scale of 1 to 10, with a diamond's hardness at 10, the Scanpan's coating system has a hardness of 9, which is 40 times harder than iron. We did a simple test on the omelet pan by scratching the cooking surface with the edge of a quarter, which is ridged, and no peel came off. The same treatment done on a similar non-stick cookware produced some slight peeling off of the coating.
In a long-term test by TUV Hessen, West Germany, a metal palette knife was scratched across the interior of a heated Scanpan skillet 100,000 times. The pan stayed as non-stick as ever but the knife was worn out.
One of the things I like doing in a Scanpan 2001 skillet is caramelizing sugar. Heat is not only perfectly distributed but it keeps longer, producing an evenly melted caramel that doesn't harden quickly. Steaks come out wonderfully brown with less smoking in the initial searing. And fried eggs and omelets require little or no fat; for puffy omelets, the pan, which is oven-proof up to 500 degrees, can be placed in the oven to finish cooking.
Distributed by Scanpan USA Inc. in Port Chester, N.Y., the cookware pieces available include round and square covered saute pans, the shallower skillets or omelet pans, saucepans, low and deep Dutch ovens, oval roaster, square grill pan and an oval fish pan. Prices range from $35 for the 8-inch skillet to about $90 for the covered 3 1/2-quart saute pan or 6 1/2-quart covered Dutch oven. Glass covers for see-through cooking are heat resistant.
One of the nicest advantages of the Scanpan is its limited lifetime warranty. Unless damaged from misuse, abuse, accident or alteration, the cookware will be replaced or repaired free of charge if found defective due to faulty workmanship or defective materials, including peeling or blistering of the non-stick interiors.
The popularity of microwave utensils has led manufacturers to develop cookware counterparts to stove-top cookery. A new product from Nordic Ware in Minneapolis, Minn., is the deep microwave braiser/browner ($40). Acting like a browning skillet, the round microwave cookware consists of white Gemstone plastic with a black, non-stick interior lining and a clear polysterene high-domed cover.
It has a 2 1/2-quart capacity, which is a great size for making stews and soups. The insulated casserole-like base ensures fast, uniform and extra-hot browning, sauteing and braising. The Nordic Ware browning cookware will fit all microwave ovens, even compact models.
The Scanpan 2001 cookware is available at J.C. Penney . The Nordic Ware deep microwave braiser/browner is available at the Broadway department stores.