Frying Without Teflon

My sister called me the other day.  She was having trouble frying eggs in a stainless steel pan and she knew I did it all the time.

We’ve all heard the concerns around Teflon coated pans.  Heated too hot they can give off toxic fumes. Even without mishaps, the coatings eventually chip off ending up in—that’s right—our food.

I admit that I was surprised at her difficulty; even my husband fries eggs in stainless steel and he thinks microwaving a pot pie is cooking.  But looking back, I remembered that I had a definite learning curve when I first started to do this.  And if it weren’t a real issue, non-stick sales wouldn’t be so high!

Here is my secret.

Start with a good frying pan.  If you can only buy one good pan, I’d suggest an omelet-sized frying pan.  It doesn’t need to be a top dollar All Clad, but if the bottom of your pan is thin and warped, that is your first problem.  A better pan is made of a heavier gauge metal that transmits heat more evenly and the surface is actually smoother so your food has fewer tiny “nooks” to bond to.

Is the Pan Hot?

Get the Pan Hot.  You want to heat the pan to the point where a drop of water instantly sizzles, but below the point where butter immediately browns.

Spraying a Pan with PAM

Spraying a Pan with PAM

Apply a light coating of oil and let it get hot.  For me, a spray like PAM works great and heats instantly.  It is also easy and keeps the calories down.  The hot oil sears the bottom of the food quickly so that it doesn’t bond with the pan surface.  From scientific sources, I hear there may even be a layer of steam that forms to separate the meat from the pan (a culinary version of a hovercraft??)

Cover Your Egg to Speed Cooking

Cover Your Egg to Speed Cooking

Fry and turn carefully!  Give your egg enough time to develop some firmness so you can turn it without breaking.  I usually put a lid on the frying pan to assist in this.  Even with good technique, you may sometimes have light sticking.  If that occurs, nudge a metal turner gently under your food to loosen it, before flipping.  Because you can use a metal utensil on stainless steel, you can use something with a real edge if needed.

This technique works for frying eggs and even for making omelets.  With an omelet, I work with the pan at a higher temperature—but that’s probably another lesson.

Turn Egg Carefully

Turn Egg Carefully

Bottom line is that this is easy, non-toxic, low calorie and delicious!  Can’t beat that!

P.S.  The FDA would probably want a reminder that eating undercooked eggs can be hazardous to your health, so this is it …

4 thoughts on “Frying Without Teflon

  1. Sara

    Hi Inger — I applaud the idea of creating a safer home, and because there’s so much misinformation out there about Teflon, I’m not surprised that you are concerned. I’m a representative of DuPont though, and hope you’ll let me share some information with you and your readers so that everyone can make truly informed decisions.

    Regulatory agencies, consumer groups and health associations all have taken a close look at Teflon. This article highlights what they found — the bottom line is that you can use Teflon without worry.

    I’d truly be glad to share additional information about it if you are interested, and appreciate your consideration of this comment. Cheers, Sara.

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