At first glance, the Master Pan looks like a gag gift. The 5-in-1 skillet's comically oversized - large enough to nearly span two burners, like something Fred Flintstone would use to cook a tyranno-burger - and, if you really think about it, appears destined for failure. Anyone who's ever turned on a burner knows how much cooking times (and levels of heat) can vary from food to food, so putting them all on the same compartmentalized pan seems like a recipe for runny eggs and hockey puck pancakes.
Still, after seeing people marvel at the pan online, we had to try it.
And our gnarled, cynical souls were stunned by the results.
The skillet's not a novelty at all; if you're cooking for one or two people, it's remarkably practical. When testing a full breakfast - home fries, pancakes, fried eggs, bacon, and sausage - we assumed the section of the pan directly under the burner would overheat, while the edges refused to cook. Not so, it turned out. The pan's base was designed to distribute the heat from the burner throughout the pan, while keeping the center griddle 15-20 percent warmer than the rest. So your grill gets hot enough to sizzle bacon (and leave those quintessential grillmarks on meat), while the foods along the perimeter don't burn - and aren't entirely neglected.
Granted, the compartments themselves aren't huge, so if you're feeding more than two people, you'll need to cook in batches. We also learned that you may need to move the pan a bit, particularly if you have a dish that warms quickly (like warming tortillas for fajitas). It requires a little multitasking, as you keep an eye on five things at once, but in today's scrolling-Pinterest-while-watching-Homeland-while-holding-a-conversation-and-mopping-the-floors world, that shouldn't be too much of an issue.
We tested it with a fajita dinner and breakfast, but you don't have to limit yourself to one cohesive meal. In fact, it might be better for dealing with varied requests - provided you're willing to put up with that sort of thing. Suddenly, you can make mini deep-dish cauliflower pizzas, teriyaki shrimp, General Tso's, glazed salmon, and bacon fried rice at once. Or go HAM with a dessert quintet you can bake in the oven (as long as the temp is 350 or lower, according to the Master Pan's instructions). What a time to be alive.
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