Durable and virtually nonstick, a medium-size carbon-steel pan is a great option when cooking for two.
Published Nov. 20, 2018.
Versatile, light, and durable, with excellent heat retention, carbon-steel pans have won a prized place in our kitchens. And while these skillets were once nearly exclusive to restaurant kitchens, home cooks are now embracing them, too. In our review of 12-inch carbon-steel pans, we commented that carbon-steel pans are “as great at browning as they are at keeping delicate foods from sticking.”
For most home kitchens, we recommend a 12-inch carbon-steel skillet (a size we’ve found roomy enough for cooking up to six burgers, fish fillets, steaks, or portions of stir-fry), but smaller skillets also have their benefits. When we’re cooking for just one or two people, we particularly like a 10-inch skillet. It’s the perfect size for searing a single steak or making a scaled-down shepherd’s pie.
In our review of full-size carbon-steel skillets, our favorite was the Matfer Bourgeat Black Steel Round Frying Pan, 11⅞", which costs just under $50.00. We loved the pan’s comfortable handle, nonstick performance, and browning capability. To see if our recommendation would hold true for a smaller size, we tested the 10¼-inch version of the Matfer pan, using it to cook Perfect Scrambled Eggs for Two, Shepherd’s Pie for Two, and steak and to make a pan sauce.
We loved the thick, solid construction; slick surface; and comfortably angled handle of the Matfer Bourgeat Black Steel Round Frying Pan, 10¼". We first seasoned the pan using the company’s instructions (which we’ve since adopted as our preferred method for seasoning carbon-steel pans). After this, it performed excellently: Scrambled eggs slid right onto a plate, and steak browned evenly. The one downside to this pan is that its cooking surface is cramped, even for a 10-inch pan. It’s 7 inches across, while other 10-inch pans we’ve tested are about 9 inches. We had to be extra-careful when sautéing a skillet full of vegetables for shepherd’s pie; some pieces flew over the sides as we stirred. However, our scaled-down recipes for two still fit well in this pan. If you’re looking for a smaller, cheaper alternative to a 12-inch carbon-steel skillet, we can recommend the Matfer Bourgeat Black Steel Round Frying Pan 10¼", which costs about $35.00.
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