Christmas came a little early at my house this year. A few weeks ago, a package containing this high quality cookware was sitting outside my front door.
The folks from BlueStar, a company from Reading, Pennsylvania that also manufactures top quality stoves and ranges for commercial and home use, asked me to review their cookware. After first reading about their products online, I was happy to oblige. When the cookware arrived, I could tell immediately that they were sturdy and well made. Once I cooked with them, I was ready to get rid of all my other pots and pans. These BlueStar pots and pans are heavy-duty, with three layers of metal - aluminum in the middle with stainless steel on the outer and inner layers. There are no "hot spots" so they cook really evenly.
I put them on my kitchen scale and weighed them against similar pots and pans I owned by another well known, high-end cookware company whose name you would surely recognize. In all but one instance, the BlueStar pots and pans weighed more. I liked the satin finish too, because unlike a shiny finish, when you clean the pots with steel wool, it won't make scratch marks.
At this point, I've used every one of the pots and pans and I love them all. One of the simplest things I made right after I got them was an omelet. I wanted to make it without using a spatula or other implement to turn the omelet, but instead using the classic French technique of continuously shaking the pan as the egg was cooking. It worked great, but I wouldn't guarantee the same results with any run-of-the-mill pan.
After many nights of vegetarian and fish dinners, I had the urge for a steak. I rarely eat steak, so I decided to splurge and buy a filet mignon. I wanted to prepare it the way I had seen chefs on tv cook a filet mignon -- searing it first on the range, then finishing it in the oven. I thought it would also be a good test to see how the cookware held up under the different kinds of heat.
I started by kicking up the heat under the pan to its highest level. The meat had been sitting on the counter for an hour and I pat it dry to make sure there was little moisture on the surface. I added about a teaspoon of olive oil to the pan and set the piece of meat into it - no salt, no pepper -- just meat. Salt draws the liquid to the surface, so wait to salt the meat until it's cooked. You need to sear it on one side for a couple of minutes without flipping. Do the same thing on the other side. Yes, it will splatter a lot -- but don't put a lid on it. You don't want to end up steaming it. It's worth the cleanup you'll have to do later. Just make sure you turn on the exhaust fan above the range while you're searing the meat.
After a couple of minutes, the outer layer will be caramelized.
Next, place the entire pan in a pre-heated 400 degree oven for five minutes for a medium rare doneness. You may need more or less time, depending on how thick your steak is and how well cooked you like it. After five minutes, remove the steak from the pan and let it rest for at least five minutes more, covered with aluminum foil. That'll be just enough time to deglaze the pan with a little wine, and sauté some mushrooms and shallots to enjoy alongside the steak.
You see that pink granular stuff surrounding the steak? Those aren't specks of dirt, but wine-flavored sea-salt I brought back from my last trip to France. Aside from tasting great, it makes a nice visual statement on your plate. But you don't have to travel to France to have your own. Click here to find out how to make your own red wine sea salt at home. I haven't tried this yet myself, so if you do, let me know how yours turns out.
The only other thing the steak needed was freshly ground black pepper. The whole thing took less than fifteen minutes start to finish. I'm convinced the results were due not just to the expensive cut of meat, but to the technique as well -- a technique I wouldn't have tried with other pans I owned. But the BlueStar pans held up beautifully amid the high heat and produced a perfect result. If you know someone who loves to cook and is looking for excellent new pots and pans, I highly recommend BlueStar. Or maybe just treat yourself to a present. 'Tis the season.