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Shinob1

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I've been kicking around the idea of starting to use cast iron for my home cooking. I'm debating on buying a 12 inch skillet and or a cast iron griddle. My only experience with cast iron is using a skillet for camping. Would it be worth the investment to buy some nice cast iron cookware? If so, what do you all recommend?
 

Deckhand

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For inexpensive I have a lodge skillet I got at Walmart works just fine. For expensive, I have a Staub Boulliabaisse and mussel pot.
 

Shinob1

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I have been thinking of buying a Lodge skillet, but didn't know if that was a decent brand or not. I'm also considering buying a cast iron dutch oven. Do you feel that cooking with cast iron imparts any additional flavor? I've recently made the transition from non-stick to stainless steel and I feel that the food cooks and tastes better. May be in part that now I'm making pan sauces and searing then finishing in the oven whereas before I wasn't. I'm just thinking that cast iron might be able to take it up another notch.
 

Amon-Rukh

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I have a pair of Lodge skillets and an enameled dutch oven and love all of them. Simple, straightforward, and it doesn't break the bank. I like them much better than any number of fancy stainless steel or nonstick pans that cost way more.

My mom has an All-Clad cast iron grill pan, but I have no idea how much it might have cost her. I'm also pretty sure I'm the only person who has ever used it; did some lobster on it while I was visiting last month and it worked out really well.
 

DeepCSweede

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We have almost completely shunned our non-stick pans and use cast iron almost exclusively now. I mainly use vintage cast iron (griswold, wagner and piqueware) but also use my wife's lecreuset quite a bit. I love both the plain cast iron and the enamel coated lecreuset but it depends on what you want to cook. I am considering picking up a debuyer 12-14" fry pan for frying up potatoes and when I want something a little lighter but my cast iron can handle it with no sticking issues whatsoever.

You can pick up some fantastic vintage cast iron on ebay if you are willing to wait to get a good price. If you want high price Griswold is considered the best and will be priced accordingly although I personally think my the quality of Wagner and Piqueware is just as good. I personally would stay away from lodge unless you want to sand / grind it smooth. Key is get something that sits flat without any serious rusting issues. My most recent purchase was a 12" Wagner griddle for eggs for about $45 with shipping in December.

If you want LeCreuset - My wife has pretty much the whole collection - I personally really like the enamel coated pots. We have an outlet center within an hour and a couple of times a year they have 35% off mailers so we usually hit that. Otherwise some of the online suppliers sometimes have good deals. My other favorite is the six inch non-enamelled fry pan - omelettes are a breeze with it and no sticking issues.
 

Deckhand

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I have been thinking of buying a Lodge skillet, but didn't know if that was a decent brand or not. I'm also considering buying a cast iron dutch oven. Do you feel that cooking with cast iron imparts any additional flavor? I've recently made the transition from non-stick to stainless steel and I feel that the food cooks and tastes better. May be in part that now I'm making pan sauces and searing then finishing in the oven whereas before I wasn't. I'm just thinking that cast iron might be able to take it up another notch.
I like my lodge skillet. No regrets. In regards to Dutch ovens. I think Staub is the best and great for cooking. This may however start a Staub vs le creuset thread.:biggrin:
Too each their own on cookware. Especially for home use. I like my lodge skillet for steaks, I heat the pan in the oven, put it on my gas range to sear my steak,then back in the oven with butter on top, seasoning of course. Next on my list I want to add a falk copper pan for sauces.
 

tgraypots

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I have 3 (no name) cast iron skillets my parents gave to me back the '70's, my mom's old (no name) cast iron skillet with lid she cooked fried chicken in most every Sunday, a Lodge griddle, a (no name) dutch oven and a Lodge grill pan. Good stuff all, and no matter how expensive, or cheap, it all works. Oh yeah, add a cast iron loaf pan to my list, great for banana bread.
 

Shinob1

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I'd say my budget for a cast iron skillet would be 50 bucks max. I did a quick search on Griswold and I saw some items on eBay for around that price, but I think they were all smaller skillets.

In case it would be helpful, what I cook mostly is saute vegetables and lean meats, (I'm on a diet). So unfortunately no biscuits or gravy, fried taters, or other magical southern food will grace the skillet, well at least not often. ;)

Lately I've been doing a lot of baked fish, but I think I want to try my hand cooking it on the stovetop, I tend to eat a lot of salmon and tilapia. Would cast iron be a good choice for cooking fish?
 

obtuse

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cant go wrong with lodge. Amazon has some good deals.
 

ajhuff

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If you are buying NEW and you want non-enameled, Lodge is the best.

Any chance you live near Chattanooga? A visit to the factory store is a good time.

I use my skillets all the time. I've used my griddle once.

-AJ
 

DeepCSweede

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I'd say my budget for a cast iron skillet would be 50 bucks max. I did a quick search on Griswold and I saw some items on eBay for around that price, but I think they were all smaller skillets.

In case it would be helpful, what I cook mostly is saute vegetables and lean meats, (I'm on a diet). So unfortunately no biscuits or gravy, fried taters, or other magical southern food will grace the skillet, well at least not often. ;)

Lately I've been doing a lot of baked fish, but I think I want to try my hand cooking it on the stovetop, I tend to eat a lot of salmon and tilapia. Would cast iron be a good choice for cooking fish?
I would look at Wagner as a possibility and would be much much cheaper and there are quite a few on ebay right now. Yes, I use mine for cooking fish and veggies all the time.
 

Shinob1

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I'm in Ohio, so unfortunately I'm not near the factory. What are the main differences between enameled vs non-enameled?
 

DeepCSweede

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Enameled has a ceramic coating on the outside and in most cases the inside of the pan. Main difference is the asthetics. Secondary is that some people do not want to cook acidic foods in cast iron because the acid can leach / eat away the seasoning of the pan. I have never run into that with our well seasoned pans and have cooked a lot of stews up north with no flavor / damage to the pan, but I will not store these foods in the pan after cooking. The enamel allows you to utilize the heat retention of CI without worrying about that. If I am making a stew or something with a lot of tomatoes, I generally use the enameled just because I can store it in the fridge without transferring it. Downside is I do not like to sear stuff in the enameled pans because they are a PITA to clean up and also you have to use non-metal spatulas/spoons to not damage the enamel where cast iron is actually better to use metal spatulas.
 

Shinob1

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That olvida looks interesting, I may have to look into that a bit further. My only concern with going non-enameled is the extra care needed to clean it. I always thought you never "cleaned" a cast iron, but just scraped out burnt food and called it a day. How do you guys care for your cast iron?
 

Andrew H

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Downside is I do not like to sear stuff in the enameled pans because they are a PITA to clean up and also you have to use non-metal spatulas/spoons to not damage the enamel where cast iron is actually better to use metal spatulas.
Huge +1 to that.
For cleaning cast iron I wash with hot water and then dry.
 

ajhuff

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For non-enamaled I hit it with water while still hot, scrape the bottom like you would a fond, toss the water and wipe out with a paper towel and return the pan to the stove top to hot dry.

For enameled I soak in the sink and scrub with a scotchbrite, dry with towel. No problem.

-AJ
 

DeepCSweede

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What makes them more difficult to clean after searing?
The enamel tends to discolor and stick more so that the non-enameled surface.

For cleaning I sometimes use salt if there is a lot of caked on stuff (I get this especially if I cook bacon and some breakfast sausages which I believe is sugar used in the curing) otherwise I usually will just clean it in hot water and then scrub it with either a bamboo brush, sponge or a plastic sponge. Mine are so seasoned that I can use soap, but I almost never do.
 

DeepCSweede

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The enamel tends to discolor and stick more so that the non-enameled surface.

For cleaning I sometimes use salt if there is a lot of caked on stuff (I get this especially if I cook bacon and some breakfast sausages which I believe is sugar used in the curing) otherwise I usually will just clean it in hot water and then scrub it with either a bamboo brush, sponge or a plastic sponge. Mine are so seasoned that I can use soap, but I almost never do.
My dad will only use salt to clean our pans at our cabin up north.

Also, as I said, you have to be careful not to chip / scratch the enamel. The reason you use metal spatulas with reg CI is that it actually will knock down the jagged edges of the seasoning and work to make it smooth / nonstick.
 

obtuse

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staub enamel cast iron has pretty good food release. The olvida stuff seema to defeat the purpose of a cast iron skillet
 

ajhuff

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My understanding is the nickel has great non-stick properties.

- AJ
 

obtuse

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Not according to cooks illustrated who reviewed the olvida skillet. Also at that price, $98 reviewed, I'd rather have an all-clad skillet
 

ajhuff

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Good to know! Still want to try it though. It has an intangible coolness factor for me.

-AJ
 

obtuse

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It is pretty unique. I would like to try the gumbo pot.
 

Shinob1

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Not according to cooks illustrated who reviewed the olvida skillet. Also at that price, $98 reviewed, I'd rather have an all-clad skillet
I checked Amazon and it has mostly good reviews. Do you have a link to the cools illustrated review?
 

Chifunda

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Next on my list I want to add a falk copper pan for sauces.
I use the Falk "Try Me" 1 1/2 qt. sauciere for sauces and absolutely love it! :doublethumbsup: I cook primarily for my wife and myself now, so it's big enough for the two of us. Falk sells it at a somewhat reduced price compared to the rest of their line. Highly recommended.

 

Deckhand

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I use the Falk "Try Me" 1 1/2 qt. sauciere for sauces and absolutely love it! :doublethumbsup: I cook primarily for my wife and myself now, so it's big enough for the two of us. Falk sells it at a somewhat reduced price compared to the rest of their line. Highly recommended.

Glad to hear you like it. The deal on that one caught my eye as well. Did you buy it with the lid or without?
 

Chifunda

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Glad to hear you like it. The deal on that one caught my eye as well. Did you buy it with the lid or without?
As luck would have it, the lid from our three quart stainless saucepan fits the sauciere perfectly, so I didn't need to order the copper lid.
 

Deckhand

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As luck would have it, the lid from our three quart stainless saucepan fits the sauciere perfectly, so I didn't need to order the copper lid.
Was just back on their site eyeing it. Guess I better just buy it with the lid. It was already on my short list. Glad you like yours.
 
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