That's up until now. For the first time in my life, I've found a plastic cooking spoon that I'm not only happy with, but that I actually find myself reaching for instead of my silicone spatula or my wooden spoon from time to time. That's saying something.
It's the Le Creuset Revolution Bi-Material Saute Spoon, and it's a keeper.
Man, after this post and my previous post about Le Creuset's wooden scraper spoon, even I might start thinking that I'm some kind of shill for the company. I assure you I'm not. The company just happens to make some darn good spoons is all.
Like that wooden scraper spoon I loved so much, the bi-material scraper spoon has an exceptionally well-designed shape from top to bottom with the same elliptical ergonomic handle design and a business end that has a wide, deep bowl for scooping and a flattened end for scraping up fond. The glass-reinforced nylon that it's made out of is about as heavy-duty as nylon utensils get with a nice heft and a very stiff feel.
But the real kicker is that the very tip is made of stiff silicone. It's essentially two tools in one, performing both the function of a good cooking spoon and of a silicone scraper-style spatula.
Normally when you try and roll the functions of two specialized tools into one general tool, you end up with a tool that does neither one particularly well. I was afraid that was going to be the case with this guy, but in test after test, it passed with flying colors. As a spoon, it was strong enough to stir a 1 1/2 gallon pot of the thick ground meat and vegetable stew that I cook up for my dogs. It was stiff enough to scrape up a skillet full of browned fond and roasted chlies in the sweet potato and hominy chili I made the other day.
Not only that, but it does it better than any other wooden spoon in my arsenal. That flexible tip allows you to push it deep into the corners of your pan for full scrapage across all surfaces.
It also does a great job as a regular spatula, scraping even uneven surfaces completely clean. Neat, right?
I'm not gonna lie: It's not all bunnies and flowers in silicone/nylon land. The spoon does have a few disadvantages. First off, anyone who's ever tried to stir a pot of tomato sauce with a white silicone spatula will know that silicone is porous and it stains. This doesn't affect the way it operates, but it does make a difference cosmetically (the Le Creuset's deep red color should help hide any staining).
Secondly and more importantly, unlike wood or metal, silicone can't be used for the highest heat applications in your kitchen. I wouldn't reach for this spoon to toss a stir-fry or to scrape the bottom of a raging hot cast iron skillet, for instance. Then again, I wouldn't use a wooden spoon for those tasks either, so no big loss.
Finally, silicone and nylon can melt which means if that if you, like me, are the kind of person who occasionally accidentally leaves their wooden spoon lying across the edge of a pan or near a hot burner, there's a good chance that it will deform or bend. I'll just have to start being extra careful to remove the spoon from the pan when I'm not using it. It's a small price to pay for the convenience of such an awesome tool.