It took me a long time to buy a 12 inch stainless steel skills -- 5 years to be precise. It wasn't for lack of trying. When we moved from our little condo into our current house 5 years ago, I thought that I'll finally have space for a few large pans. But after trying a number of 12 inch skillets, I realized that large pans came with a few unexpected problems.
Problem 1: They are not as large as they look.
Pans are sold by the size of the diameter from rim to rim. The cooking surface depends on how sloped the sides are. I found that many brands like to slope the sides so much that the cooking area of a 12 inch pan is barely larger than that of a 10 inch pan.
Problem 2: The bottom warps causing the oil to go to the sides.
Many large pans tend to warp a bit as they heat up forming a slight bump in the center of the pan. This causes the oil to flow towards the sides and the food doesn't cook evenly.
I gave up on the idea of finding a 12 inch skillet and was happy with a few 10 inch skillets instead until I walked into China Fair in Newton. I saw a large, thick, and heavy Winco pan with an oven-safe handle and it had my name all over it. For $60 it was too good not to try. Turns out I didn't need to spend $60. It's available on Amazon for $40! So before I tell you about the virtues of this pan, I want to remind you to do as I say, not as I do -- buy your cooking equipment on-line. Why didn't I take it back even though I haven't even unpacked it? Because China Fair doesn't take anything back even in its packaging. The whole reason I was going to this store was to see what the hype was all about. Everyone in Boston loves China fair and it's hard to get a good feel for the store without buying something. Considering their prices, I think the return policy is unacceptable and customer service and knowledge about equipment was non-existent.
Enough about China Fair, let's talk about the pan.
- Large cooking area that's almost twice as large as a 10 inch pan.
- Even heat distribution.
- Excellent browning. By the way, don't listen to a few people on Amazon who say that food sticks. They don't know how to cook. The pan and oil need to be hot, the protein needs to be thoroughly dried, and it should't be disturbed until it browns. It behaves like any other stainless steel pan
- The handle is oven safe up to 450F.
- Affordable price
- The pan is heavy. It doesn't bother me, but if you don't like heavy pans, this one is not a good option.
- The silicon handle stops pretty far from the pan. My guess is that it's to protect it from heat on restaurant burners. It's not a biggie. I just use a towel or mitt to help myself lift it when it's full and hot.