Apr 18 2013
Frying pan or skillet? That’s up to you. But whatever you call it, if you cook in camp, you probably find it indispensable. I know I do — on most trips, at any rate. And how do I use it? Let me count the ways. Sautéing meat and fish. Cooking pancakes and eggs (scrambled or fried, it makes no difference). Preparing hot sandwiches. Stir‑frying veggies. Making skillet pasta or rasta, along with a profusion of other rice dishes. Baking personal pan‑sized skillet pizzas and minipizzas, not to mention breadstuffs like flatbread and bannock and baked treats like skillet cookies, apple crisp, and brownies.
The upshot? Unless you’re a spartan minimalist, it’s a safe bet that you have a skillet in your kitchen pack. But which kind? Most outfitters give you a choice between cast iron and aluminum. (The latter usually sports a nonstick coating. If it doesn’t, it’s not worth considering.) And the big‑box retailers follow suit. Steel skillets also make their appearance from time to time, but they don’t stay in the catalogs for long. And I think I know why. Steel makes great bike frames, and steel‑clad aluminum cookware has quite a following among professional chefs, but the steel camping skillets I’ve used have been disasters. Even my beautiful Sigg steel skillet proved temperamental. No matter how much care I took to season it, and how much oil I used, food still stuck. (Have you found the secret to cooking on steel? If so, please let me know.)
So it’s down to two: cast iron and nonstick‑coated aluminum. I own both, but which is better? It’s not an easy question to answer. Let’s begin by looking at cast‑iron and aluminum skillets, side by side… Read more…
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