What's the Griswold equivalent of a Lodge 10" or 12" cast iron skillet?
All this talk of cast iron has made me consider buying one of those smooth polished vintage cast iron pans-- you know, the ones that season to the point where they're as slick as Teflon. In my experience, these modern Lodge pans with the bumpy surface just don't acquire that Teflon-style slickness.
My question is, I don't understand these bizarro model numbers...
Griswold #9? #43? #10 716E?
What what what?
All I want is a good, all purpose vintage skillet with a 10" or 12" cooking surface, and a tall lip (2"-3"). Large enough to cook an omelet, bake corn bread, or sear a couple of steaks. What kind of pan am I looking for? Were certain model years better than others?
By the way, it doesn't have to be a Griswold, as long as it's a high quality vintage American pan.
#12 is pretty big...a @ 12" cooking surface. Too big for an omlette and overkill for a couple of steaks (thinking healthy NY strip, for point of reference). A number 9 or 10 is a good general pupose size, and will be dramatically cheaper as the larger sizes are bit harder to find and so priced accordingly. For comparison, you can pick up a clean flat #9 Griswold for $30, but clean flat #12's are going to start at $150.
Be aware that skillets from different time periods can command significantly higher prices even though they have identical cooking properties. These are collectible items so there are some runs of certain markings (e.g Griswold "slant logo" or "spider web") that much more valuable due to their relative scarcity. If you want a good cooking Griswold buy a flat example that has "Erie, Pa." stamped anywhere on the bottom and you are in business. I bought a lightly crusted #6 the other day on Craig's list for $10. It's flat as a board. A few days covered with oven cleaner and sitting in a garbage bag and it will be ready to season.
Note that some vintage cast-iron pieces (including some, but not all, Griswolds) have raised "heat rings" on the bottom. I've found that a certain size of heat ring just isn't compatible with the burner grates on my gas stove, which are configured sort of like a ship's wheel. When the pot is centered on the burner, the heat ring is balanced on the outermost points of the spokes, so the pot easily slips off the grate and sits at an angle. If you're looking at pieces with heat rings, this may be a consideration, though it's less likely to be a problem with the larger sizes.
I started my Griswold collection with a #6. To date it's my most used pan. The others are a #9 a #12 (the only one I have with a ring) and a #8 chicken pan. Being relatively new to cooking, I'd say the 12 is the one I use the least, but I haven't done much in the way of pan pizza, which I imagine might reignite my passion for that heavy beast. The chicken skillet is also nice since it has an additional handle and a lid to keep hot oil spatter contained. In short, I think the #6 and #9 are probably the best all-around sizes, IMHO.
I too have a #12 with heat ring. In fact, to judge by what gets listed on eBay, I wonder if that size was ever made without one. Found mine at a yard sale in extremely gunked-up condition, and put a huge effort into cleaning and re-seasoning it ... only to discover that it actually doesn't perform all that well on my stove, as it develops a definite hot spot in the center. My #9 and #7 have been much more satisfactory.
I use my no-name #9 iron skillet fairly frequently, but I would never make an omelet in it. I might do a frittata, though.
I do want to mention that vintage skillets I see are often stripped clean, or possibly, horribly gunked with burned on deposits. You might not find ones that have the years of seasoning intact. In fact, I have never seen one for sale in that condition. If you do find one that is balanced in your hand, and has the nice pouring spouts of a Griswold, you might have to season it yourself, or remove layers of bad stuff.
There is advice all over this forum about how to do this.
Browse ebay for an idea of what is available and for how much they bring. My Griswolds are later, but made in "Erie, PA. You see that info on the bottom of the skillet.
After I had bought my skillets, an elderly friend told me she had put her iron skillets at the curb and they had been picked up that day. That's why I advise people to ask their elderly relatives and friends if they had old iron they no longer want!
I'd say the number 12, I have the #12 Griswold and the Lodge 12 inch pan and they nest like they are the same pan size wise. But that is too big for the use you are describing. I'd probably go for a 9 for that maybe a 10.
I started my Griswold collection with a number 9 griddle pan and love that thing. But I probably use the number 6 pan the most because it's the perfect size for omelets or scrambled eggs for 1-2 people.