Hard Anodized Aluminum, like Calphalon Hard-Anodized Cookware is another good alternative to non-stick. Just be careful you don't order a set with a non-stick surface (my mistake when I registered for our wedding). It heats quickly, often holds up to metal utensils and scrubbing, and if cooked properly (see below), food shouldn't stick.
Good cooking advice from the article Nonstick Cookware Safety: Are There Alternatives to Teflon?:
Shirley Corriher, author of CookWise: The Secrets of Cooking Revealed (William Morrow Cookbooks, 1997) and a well-known food consultant, says the secret to nonstick cooking lies less in the pan than in the cook’s ability to wait.
Here’s her advice for frying anything — chicken breasts, salmon steaks and, yes, even eggs — in any type of pan:
- Heat the empty pan first to give the food a hot surface to cook on and not in.
- Pour in a tablespoon or two of canola oil, and tilt it around.
- Put in the food, which will sizzle like crazy and stick to the pan.
- Resist the urge to chisel the food loose for at least 90 seconds until it lightly browns — at which point it will release all by itself.
- Repeat on the other side.
For bakeware, consider silicone bakeware, or use metal pans with parchment paper, which is coated with silicone. Silicone is easy to store and clean. I like the sets with covers to store food and wire "sleds" to keep your pan from flopping around as you pull it in and out of the oven, like the set pictured below. You can also find it very inexpensively. Silicone has been around for a long time, so I hope that means we won't be having any health scares related to its use. I recently purchased two silicone loaf pans and a piece for 12 muffins. I am very happy with them, except that it is hard to get the muffins or rolls out of the oven without spilling them because the pan is so floppy.
I have four non-stick pieces that are old and peeling. I need pieces that can survive some burning and abuse. I am plaining to replace them with a Fagor Duo Combi 5-Piece Pressure Cooker Set, which can also be used as a regular saute pan and 8 quart pot, and a cast iron skillet if I can find one. I am also looking into removing the non-stick coating from my Analon Advanced pot and pan. Apparently, you can have it blasted off at a body shop, or you can remove it yourself by repeatedly soaking it in hot soapy water and scrubbing it with scouring powder and/or using a lye-based drain cleaner. I also saw advice to burn it off, but that seems even more dangerous than lye, based on what we know about getting Teflon too hot.
What cookware do you love? Do you have any tricks for keeping food from sticking? How about advice for getting good deals on good cookware?
[JUMP TO UPDATE...what I bought, what I use, and recommendations]