Cast Iron KOs Calaphon 1
I am a trained chef, caterer and hardcore chowhound.
I own 4 cast iron skillets, a bean pot, a chicken fryer and 2 dutch ovens. Some of them are over 50 years old. I learned how to use them and they are all virtually non-stick with the correct technique. Same goes for my carbon steel pans and wok.
I cook on a gas range and I barbecue with charcoal.
Last year I wandered into a kitchen store and picked up this gorgeous 12" Calaphon 1 sauté pan. It had heft, style and beautiful packaging. It came with a DVD, instructions, beautiful packaging and cost $180 (Cdn).
I was in-lust.
I bought it and got ready to join the 21st century of cooking.
What a piece of shit!. I followed the instructions, watched the stupid, condescending videos, experimented again and again, and everything was sticking. It was impossible to clean, requiring agonizing, hand-cramping scouring with that toxic compound Barkeepers Friend.
It failed against carbon steel and cast iron in every respect, which heat evenly, hold their heat, are non-stick (hot pan - cold oil!) plus look better the older and darker they get.
I have an acquaintance, a smug, vacuous food and wine snob who only eats and drinks what is trendy and bores everyone with his knowledge of wine provenance and the merits of Serrano ham over Proscuitto. I think I'll give it him. He'll never admit how much he will grow to hate it.
Da Cook - you are too funny!!! I also swear by cast iron. We cook 70% of our meals in a 12" Lodge cast iron skillet that I bought in a second-hand store 20 years ago for $5.00. I'm a bit of a clean freak, so I prefer to clean it completely and re-season it from time to time. I know this is sacrelige, but it's what I do. I also have a 14" skillet with a lid (weighs about 40 lbs -- talk about weapons of mass destruction), that is awesome for doing lamb shanks. I just ordered a large cast iron griddle (that extends over 2 burners) from Lodge by mail order. Can't wait till it gets here.
Thanks for the kind words.
I bought a huge 16 quart Dutch Oven from Lodge plus the iron tri-pod with the chain for the pot.
I set-up my copper out-door fire place with charcoal and hardwood and I cook chuck-wagon style.
Gumbo and Chili never tasted so good! I am really pleased with Lodge's product line. Please support them!
I have three cast iron pans: one was my grandma's, and was bigger than she was. One is an antique Griswold that is balanced and lovely to use, and the last is my magic Lodge grill pan. I say magic because every time I make something as basic as a piece of frozen chicken, it turns out so delish that people say, "what did you do to it, it tastes amazing!" It's my magic grill pan.
My second favorite is stainless steel with an aluminum clad. To venture out, a while back I bought a piece of Calphalon One (anodized aluminum) and wasn't that impressed. It's just okay, even though aluminum is an even conductor. And it stains (so I'm glad I only paid a promotional price for it). Never liked Calphalon and don't see why it's so popular...I guess it's because it looks good and is heavy, so people think it's quality?
I work in a cooking store in Los Angeles, and we carry Lodge, they now have a line that is "pre-seasoned", but the manufacturer won't tell us what they're seasoning with. Anyone have any ideas or inside info?
Thanks for the rant Da Cook, it was fun. I especially love your solution for getting rid of the pan. Twisted. Right up my alley.
As much as I admire the company, I'm very much afraid that Lodge's "pre-season" coating is just something that needs to be scrubbed off and replaced with a good coat of polymerized lard.
Old cast iron really is the best cast iron - it tends to be harder, thinner, lighter and (best of all) perfectly seasoned. I got all of mine by haunting swap meets, flea markets and antique malls, and seldom paid over $15 for a piece of it. My last lovely score was a Wagner Ware chicken fryer (10" skillet, but twice as deep as the usual one and with no pouring lip, plus fitted lid) for $10 at the Pasadena City College monthly swap meet.
re: Will Owen
Why do you think the seasoning needs to be scrubbed off? I have a couple of Lodge pans (a 12" frying pan and a Dutch oven) both of which came pre-seasoned; I also have a lovely, light Griswold 10." Both work great, but I liked not having to mess with the seasoning. It's certainly gotten better with use (and has been coated in its fair share of lard), but I still appreciated being able to cook whatever I wanted in the Lodge right away.
I think I was just being a fogey there, sorry. Still, all you ever really need to do with a clean pan is remember HOT PAN, COLD OIL for the first few times, and then maybe fry a lot of chicken in it. A well-seasoned pan can actually stand up to some scrubbing with detergent, as long as you don't give it a long soak...and I think the grill pans actually NEED to be scrubbed well between uses. My father-in-law has religiously refrained from scrubbing his, and its ridges are hardly even there anymore because the grooves are so gunked up! When I inherit that (as I'm sure I will) it's gonna get a major bath.
My wife and I love to cook, but I am the more. . .how shall we say. . .geekie about it. I love to buy stuff for the kitchen and I cook most of the meals.
For the record I own lots and lots of pans. Only one is non-stick. Several are clad-steel and I have many cast iron.
My wife went to cook an egg a few weeks ago and I told her to grab my old cast iron skillet. She was about to put a bunch of fat into it and I told her to lay off the fat, heat the pan up and watch the magic.
With no fat in the pan, the fried egg slid around like it was on ice.
If you treat the pans with care, follow a few simple rules, they will never fail. Stovetop to oven to grill to an open fire.
Nothing works better.
TugBoat, I gotta ask. How do you maintain your pans? I use several, all old Griswold, and love them. To clean mine, I usually take them off the burner, hot, rinse with water, take two or three rubs around with a natural bristle brush, and let it dry back on the burner. I never use soap. However, I can not come close to doing what you say here! Is it the brush? Sometimes I get a blob of crud that needs to be removed and just water and a dish rag won't do it.... What do you do?
Even if I was not cooking in one of my cast irons while making dinner, I would fire up an extra burner on the stove, put the pan on with bacon, and let it go for a while. Wipe it clean.
Next time, same thing. Put some fat in the pan and let it get really hot.
After a while the patina built up and it was like glass.
We never soap them. We just run hot water on them. Wipe out the grit. Spray some Pam when it was dry. Stack it.
Over and over.
And over and over.
My pans look 20 years old, but I have only had them for 5 years or so.
UnConundrum: One thing that works wonders -- both for removing cooked-on crud without the soap and water, and for keeping the pan well seasoned -- is to put a tbsp or two of salt in the pan with some dollops of canola oil. The salt and oil will make a kind of paste that, when rubbed around with a paper towel, will scour out the stuck-on junk while simultaneously depositing a nice coating of oil into the iron. When you feel you've scoured it enough, just give it a rinse -- the water will wash the salt out of the pan, but the oil will keep the water from permeating the metal. Then simply wipe clean with a paper towel. This trick has really helped me maintain an awesome finish on my cast iron through the years.