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Gadgets: Universal Nonstick Silicone Lid

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[Photograph: Sur La Table]

The packaging for this week's gadget called out to me. Between the diagram of its many uses and the word "universal," it was boastfully yelling at me in the store: "I fit on anything and do lots of things!" I gave it a questioning look, believing it only halfway.

"Oh yeah? Prove it." And so I started losing my mind and talking to my gadgets.

Back home with my Universal Nonstick Silicone Lid ($18.95 at Sur La Table), I set out to test its three advertised functions: pot lid, trivet, and splatter guard. With my 10" skillet, its larger 12" cousin, and a small saucepan on the stove, I had an array of obstacles ready to go.

A sizzling sautée was a prime candidate for the splatter guard test, so onto the 12-incher went the lid. The silicone formed an immediate vacuum-like seal, and it stayed as long as I needed it to without budging. Success indeed, and I liked the little side tab that helped me pry it out of place despite its strong seal. But after repeated use that evening, the silicone held on to too much heat and it became nearly impossible to handle. If only the side tab had some kind of heat-resistant material around it for easy removal.

Weary of getting burnt again, I started using the lid merely to keep things warm while waiting for the rest of my meal to finish cooking. On a recent night, a quick (but incredibly tasty) quesadilla would have gotten cold had I waited around, so I turned again to my boastful friend. It formed an equally strong seal on my 10-incher, but after only a few minutes, condensation sogged my tortilla. Predictable enough, I guess.

Somewhere along the way, I discovered that there are pots and pans whose handles will get in the way of the seal—especially smaller ones. The lid is definitely capable of sealing onto anything, but how long it stays there is less "universal," to use their own words.

But as a trivet, there's nothing much to complain about (keeping heat from my table is hardly a challenging function) besides that it's slightly wobbly. Just like a trivet, the side tab has a hole for hanging, which means it can stay on my pot racks rather than the gadget cupboard. Regular pot lids can't hang, and they can't act as trivets, so I'll give it some points where due.

Perhaps the lid didn't convince me 100%, but given that it doesn't talk much, it made a fairly decent argument. I'll take it for what it is.

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