Pros: So easy to clean; extremely non-stick; great thermal properties
Cons: Shouldn’t go in the dishwasher (not really a problem)
Rating: 5 out of 5
First posted 4/15/2005
Review item courtesy of Swiss Diamond International and Global Marketing
I was fascinated by the concept of Swiss Diamond cookware. It’s non-stick cookware that has a diamond reinforced cooking surface. Yes, you heard me: diamond-reinforced. This is supposed to make the pan particularly durable, with fantastic non-stick and thermal properties (I’ll come back to what I mean by thermal properties in a moment).
The surface is safe for use with metal utensils, which makes sense given the durability claims. Because it’s so non-stick, you’re not supposed to need much oil–and it’s quite true, I found I needed very little (if any) indeed.
The body of the pan is cast aluminum, nice and thick for even heating, and in theory the diamonds conduct heat extremely well, allowing you to get a degree of browning that normally you can’t get out of non-stick cookware. In fact, that’s always been one of the drawbacks of non-stick cookware–things may come out wonderfully, but they just don’t brown the same way they do with more traditional pans.
The pan is billed as being “ideal for use on the new ceramic, gas or electric cook tops.” Sadly I only had a standard electric range to use it on (insert melodramatic sob here), but I have no trouble believing these claims. The pan is very flat and even and not overly heavy.
The pan has a stay-cool handle that arches up a bit, which gives you a better angle, ergonomically speaking, from which to pick it up (I did find it a bit easier on my arms and hands, which is important to me).
The pans are oven-safe up to 500 degrees F (although obviously at that heat the stay-cool handle isn’t going to stay cool). I used ours in a 475 degree oven and it held up beautifully. On the stovetop you’re supposed to stick with low to medium heat, not high heat, and trust me–you won’t need high heat. Medium works wonderfully even if you want to quickly brown rare hamburgers.
The only potential downside is that dishwasher cleaning, while possible, is not recommended due to the abrasive nature of dishwasher detergents. However, I don’t think you’re going to find this to be a downside in practice.
The 11″ fry pan is a good size for several hamburgers or a nice round of cornbread. The sides aren’t so high as to keep you from sliding something out onto a plate, but they’re high enough that you can put a decent amount of food in it.
Theory vs. practice
So far I’ve given you mostly theory with a bit of commentary. Now I’m going to get very specific about how this pan held up. We put it through a handful of things, but there are a couple of examples I’m going to concentrate on because I think they best show the qualities of this cookware.
One of the first recipes we made was a hamburger recipe. We deliberately picked something that needed to brown so we could test out the thermal properties, that would tend to stick so we could test out the non-stick properties, and that would be very messy so we could test ease of cleaning. You see, toward the end of the cooking time, for this particular recipe you add various toppings, including tomato sauce and cheese. There are fewer harder-to-clean things than burned-on cheese.
The hamburgers browned beautifully; no problems there. They didn’t stick to the pan at all. But what most amazed us is that the gooey, burned mass of cheese left behind–the mess that we left to sit while we ate dinner, just to make sure it would be as tough to clean as possible–wiped right off.
One of the more peculiar aspects of this cookware is that the non-stick surface doesn’t feel totally smooth. If anything, it feels slightly “wrinkled” when I run my fingertips over it. Yet it’s incredibly non-stick and easy to clean.
Another thing we made in it was cornbread. Our favorite way to make cornbread is to heat the pan in the oven at a very high temperature, then add the batter and cook the cornbread at a lower temperature. Normally we have to do this in a cast iron pan to get the true browned crust that we so love, so I thought this would make a fantastic test of the pan’s much-vaunted thermal properties. And after performing this test, I have one word for the results: YUM!
When I slid the cornbread out of the pan (and yes, I do mean slid–it came out that easily), it left only a couple of tiny crumbs behind. You could barely tell that I had used the pan.
In short, I love this pan. The thermal properties and extremely non-stick surface in combination make it an unusual and wonderful find.