Pros: Durable nonstick pan, size, construction, spatter guard lid
Cons: Mesh lid takes a bit of extra care
While most frying pans, skillets and chef's pan come in the round, a few out there can be found in oval, square or even rectangular silhouettes.
Cook's Essentials Hardcoat Enamel II 11" SquareSkillet K6295
I'm a long time on-line shopper, and QVC is probably my very favorite TV/on-line emporium. One of their house brands is the Cook's Essentials line of cookware, bakeware and a handful of utensils and small appliances. The Hardcoat Enamel line with easy release coating is one I return to, time and time again.
With their Hardcoat Enamel II line, the black, slightly textured DuPont ScratchGuard nonstick lining is compatible with metallic utensils as well as the wooden, plastic and silicone variety more commonly recommended with nonstick coatings.
The colorful porcelain enamel, available in black, charcoal grey, pimento, yellow and my favorite, the medium amethyst-hued eggplant. In addition to the Hardcoat enamel, and extra layer of clear coat enamel-similar to the type added as a protective finish to the better lines of large appliances, adds extra durability.
The Phenolic, colored handle stays cool to the touch, with the entire skillet rated oven safe up to 350 degrees, plus this riveted handle stays firmly attached. Cook's Essentials Hardcoat Enamel II pans are designed in the USA, made in Thailand and carry a Limited Lifetime warranty.
While a very similar model comes with a hard aluminum press/lid, the K6295 comes with a domed aluminum mesh lid, providing both spatter guard protection and a peek at how those hash browns, bacon, sausages, eggs and what have you are faring.
I've never washed these pots and pans in my dishwasher, but do wait at least 5-10 minutes for suitable cool down before rinsing them out with hot, soapy water. Even tough items, like the dribs and drabs of molten cheese that ooze out from quesadillas and grilled cheese sandwiches, or bits of breading and spices from blackened seafood fiascoes, come easily off with a few scrubs from a plastic bristled Scrubbie or handled brush.
Do I Really Need Square Plus Round Skillets?
I've got a set of 8/10/12" skillets, a cast iron square 10" skillet with raised grids-perfect for steaks and chops-and several chicken fryers/chef's pans and woks.
The main reason I purchased this 11" SquareSkillet was the ability to fit 4 regular-sized slices of bread in at the same time for easy French Toast, plus a better arrangement for link sausage, hamburger that I could cook as one giant patty then slice to fit in hoagie or hot dog buns, et al.
I like the airy mesh lid and the ability to drain off unhealthy cooking grease via the 2 integral pour spouts. I get more room than the 10" round skillet plus this fits our large round burners better than any of my 12" frying pans.
I've noticed the pan is fast to heat up and pan-fried chops and chicken are uniformly browned-a definite plus I attribute to the patented anti-warp even heat base. The base is slightly textured, and may or may not be compatible with newer flat surface cooktops and ranges.
I'm still more likely to use my Calphalon utensils rather than a metal spatula, spoon or fork, but the times I've vigorously whisked some chocolaty roux or blended very fragrant curry paste with coconut milk, there's nary a mark, scratch or gouge to be seen.
Final Thoughts and Recommendation
In the past, I've had some quibbles with the construction of some of the Cook's Essentials glass lids, in terms of both durability and tendency to rust. So far the aluminum mesh dome lid is just about perfect, though you'll need to use a hot pad/mitt with the combination phenolic/metal handle.
I tend to soak this lid, since the spattering of minute grease particles make cleaning a little bit harder than a solid metal cover. But that's a reasonable trade off with the lack of spatter burns, or even steam burns when removing a solid glass or metal lid.
The lining for this series has proven durable in more than a year of daily use, in all but the wok, which by design, has been subjected to much more "high" heat than any other pot or pan in the Hardcoat Enamel II line.
The glossy enamel coating has no chips, crazing, clouding or anything else to dim its cheerful gleam, and I am happy to add more and more purple pieces to my otherwise boring black enamel grouping.
I know my Other Half, the ex-Cook, is hoarding older pieces I've been throwing out, in his garage lair, though for the price, I'm perfectly comfortable losing 10 to 15 year old cookware, with the exception of well-seasoned cast iron and a few other heirloom baking dishes.
4 stars. Highly recommended for those desiring a medium weight skillet, sized right for 2-4 housemates. I'm not going to hold my breath for the tie-dye version...
Props to fearless, tireless CL, Pogomom, for quickly adding this to the H&G database. Lady, you rock!