Kitchen Essentials Part 1: Pots and Pans of Conduction

Author: L. A. Briggs // Category: , , ,
Posted March 29, 2011 at 12:39 AM
One of the major pieces of equipment that any cook uses are pots and pans. There is large debate about which type of material makes the best pan, and each material has both its advantages and disadvantages. However, for the most part, the material doesn’t matter so much as whether the material does what it is supposed to: conduction.

Conduction plays a major role in preparing any foods on the stove top or in any situation where heat is added to any vessel. Conduction is the process where heat is transferred from one object to another through direct physical contact. An example in the kitchen would be when you are heating a pot of water on the stove. The heat from the burner is transferred to heat the water by the water directly contacting the surface of the pot. How well a certain material conducts heat depends on it thermal conductivity, which is a numerical coefficient that relates how well a material conducts thermal energy. The larger the value of thermal conductivity, the better that material conducts heat.

This is where the different types of material come into play. Copper is the best conductor among the materials that pots and pans are made out of, but these types of pans can be very expensive. The next best is aluminum. The material that, on its own, is the worst conductor of heat is stainless steel.

The following video is an excellent source of information on the different types of materials that pots and pans are made out of and what sorts of applications they are best used for. The video is rather long (~10 minutes), but the information is really good. The lady who is in the video is Rita Heikenfeld, and she does a wonderful job. She does get off topic a couple of times, but on a whole she does a fantastic job.

Recipe of the Day

Chicken Carbonara

½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
2 eggs
¼ cup heavy cream
½ tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
½ pound thick sliced bacon, diced
1 pound chicken tenders, in small strips
¼ cup dry white wine
¼ cup chicken broth
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
12 oz. dry spaghetti
1 cup frozen peas OR 2 cups chopped spinach

1.      Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the spaghetti.
2.      Whisk together Parmesan, eggs, cream, salt and pepper in a large bowl.
3.      Sauté bacon in a large sauté pan until crisp. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Pour off all but 1 Tbsp of drippings.
4.      Add chicken to pan and sauté for 4 minutes per side or until thoroughly cooked. Transfer to plate with bacon.
5.      Deglaze pan with wine, broth and juice, scraping up any bits on the bottom. Reduce by half, 2-3 minutes.
6.      Cook spaghetti in boiling water, stirring often. Drain pasta in colander with frozen peas. Shake pasta to remove excess water. Combine bacon, chicken and wine mixture with the egg mixture. Add hot pasta and toss to coat. Serve immediately.

This is a recipe that my sister loves to make.

3 Responses to "Kitchen Essentials Part 1: Pots and Pans of Conduction"

Jen Says :
4/3/11, 6:19 PM

So, not to get too geeky about it, but I think there are things other than conduction to worry about. the nonstick pans can eventually erode and leave cancer-causing agents behind (not sure how much you'd have to ingest to actually do damage, but...). Furthermore, if you use the nonstick stuff, it wears out after a year or two (if you cook a lot) and then you have to get a new set. Which doesn't strike me as very sustainable.

We've switched almost entirely to castiron. It's a pain to season, but you can find great pans at the thrift store or antique store, season them, and then enjoy them forever.

Ckeese Says :
5/4/11, 4:02 PM

Because I bought my pots and pans on a college budget, they are the lowest of the lows. Everything is cooked unevenly! I can't wait to start receiving an actual pay check, so I can buy better cooking supplies.

magi Says :
1/6/12, 12:34 AM

I actually enjoyed reading through this posting. Many thanks.

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