By Michael Hiller
Photos courtesy of Hot Dots
No Teflon? No problem for this cookware.
We buy Teflon cookware because it’s a one-trick pony. But any pro chef or talented home cook will tell you that’s also its biggest drawback.
“Nonstick pans make cleanup easy, but you can’t build a lot of flavor in them,” says chef Omar Flores (Whistle Britches and Muchacho in Dallas and Southlake). To create big flavors, you need the food to stick to a hot pan just enough to brown and caramelize it. But that leaves behind crusted cookware that requires a lot of elbow grease (and sometimes steel wool) to scrub clean.
That’s why I was transfixed on a quarantine cooking segment. Mike Minor, former executive chef of Border Grill at Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay resort, was livestreaming
from his home kitchen, searing rib-eyes, frying garlic and griddling corn tortillas in Hot Dots pots and Inducore pans. They looked nothing like the lightweight Teflon sets I’ve bought and discarded at least a dozen times. These had heft and curves. They sparkled from the inside, as if their cooking surface had been coated with diamonds.
Minor also was impressed as he heated up a saute pan inlaid with a proprietary slick surface. Then, over the next 15 minutes, I watched as he turned nonstick cooking on its ear.
“I’ve been looking for a saute pan that would stand up to very high temps,” he said, while searing beef in a smoking-hot pan. When it started to stick, he grabbed a metal spatula and began to aggressively scrape the brown bits loose from the pan. His wife, streaming the lesson on her phone, audibly shrieked in the background.
“They say I can do that; nothing’s scratching,” he assured her.
The Hot Dot’s website jabbers on about the cookware’s three-ply construction, which bonds aluminum inside magnetic stainless steel for even heating and cooking, and the “hot dots” etched into the bottom of the pots and pans that conduct heat lightning-fast.
Minor continued to fearlessly scrape the nonstick surfaces with a metal spatula and the pointy edge of a spoon. He sliced the rib-eye with a knife, treating the pretty hex pattern like a cutting board. He cranked up the heat enough to make the pan smoke — a no-no with most nonstick pans. And when it was time to clean up, all it took was a spray of water and a soapy sponge.
We tested the cookware ourselves and came away impressed. Searing, browning, sauteing — all the things you can’t really do well on a Teflon surface — are easy work here. The pots and pans feel weighty and solidly built, and the handles stayed cool. Fried eggs don’t slip around in the three nonstick pans as freely as they do in Teflon, so we’ll keep a traditional nonstick around for that.
If you’re into cooking and know your way around a sauce pan and a pair of tongs, these are worth adding to your arsenal.