Bare cast iron brands - im looking for a good quality one. Help!
I'm currently in the process of moving out of home. I'm looking for some good quality cast iron pieces and I was wondering what your recommendation for size/brand/country of origin/etc would be. I'm planning on entertaining up to 10 people and I would also need some pieces for cooking for myself. I'm planning on cooking stews, stir frys, curries, steak, omlettes etc.
Any help would be appreciated.
P.s i am being handed down some stainless steel pots and pans so its just the cast iron pieces that i'm interested in.
I'd get a Lodge 12" cast iron skillet and a Lodge 7-quart 10" (diameter) x 5" (depth) Dutch oven. These two pieces of cookware will handle everything you've mentioned, in terms of number of people and types of food, beautifully.
Taken care of, these will last long enough for you to will them to someone in your family.
Here are pictures of both:
Search around elsewhere, however, for the best deal.
Can't speak to "pre-seasoned" cast iron... ALL my pieces have come from yard sales, thrift stores, and flea markets. Dirt cheap (never spent more than $5 for a piece) and usually "dirty" with someone else's seasoning!?! I've de-gunked pieces with liberal applications of spray oven cleaner and elbow grease... then reseasoned the way my Grandmother always did. She'd get pan ripping hot on stove top cand then put in a spoonful of bacon grease. She'd coat the pan... inside and out. The self-cleaning cycle on stove works really well... but not something ya wanna do during a heat wave.
I think one of the keys to getting the most outta your CI is USE IT OFTEN!! Once well used/seasoned, things like eggs will almost slide around like on non-stick. If ya cook something where ya need to wash the pan, I use cheap dollar store salt and a scrubber. Then back on burner to heat up and another dab of bacon grease.
There are two definitions of re-seasoning here. -- just to be clear One is that you season on top of the preseasoning. Two is that you take off the original preseasoning surface, and then reseason the cookware.
You definitely need to at least do the first one, but preferably the second one.
Lodge is good. I have two pieces of Lodge cast iron Dutch Oven. I also have a Calphalon cast iron skillet, which frankly is just as good. So really, in my experience, most cast iron cookware about the same. Lodge, however, has a better reputation and is not that much more expensive. So if you can get hold of a Lodge, then go for it. If not, most likely any brand will work fine.
When I first got reunited with cast iron a few years ago, was with a yard sale purchase of 3 crusty skillets for $1 each. Bought them cuz they had "names"... Lodge, Griswold. After thorough de-crusting, found I prefer the Griswold stuff... seems much smoother than Lodge.
Now I have to restrain myself when I see old cast iron... especially if it'll become a duplicate. Bought a big/HEAVY, 2-burner Lodge grill/griddle... cuz I just wanted it and it was less than $5. Found an Abelskeiver (spelling??) pan at Goodwill for maybe $3. CUTE little diamond shaped Lodge pan marked 1 egg on bottom. Would LOVE to find a big/deep chicken fryer, muffin/popover pans, bread/load pans. I ALWAYS keep an eye open while yard saling. FOund a blue enamel LeCreuset grill pan at Goodwill for FIVE BUCKS!! Enamel in PERFECT condition and only minor schmutz between ridges to clean up.
I'm not sure if "Lodge" raw cast iron is available in your part of the world but, it's the #1 choice for most people in the USA. What you want to look for is WEIGHT and SMOOTHNESS of the finish. With lids, they need to be tight fitting and heavy too. Skip the cheap Asian imports that are thin and rough.
For enameled cast iron, go French with either Le Crueset or Staub though I have heard favorable comments some other brands that are not available in the USA.
For actual pans, I would start with the 12" Lodge skillet. It is the right size for two typical 1/4# hamburger patties and will make huge omelettes and similar items in addition to the typical "bacon and eggs".
For the Dutch Oven, if you do not cook acidic things then cheaper raw cast iron from Lodge is the way to go. Myself, I find the oblong enameled Dutch Ovens are best. A smaller model (~4qt/L) is great for a chicken or small roast (which are generally oblong not round ;-) for small groups and a ~7 qt/L model is good for large pots of beans, stews, meat for larger dinner parties or "meals of the week" when you need week end left overs for a hectic week at work. I have owned LC for a long time and find I actually prefer Staub a little more for it's better finish.
re: Sid Post
< I have owned LC for a long time and find I actually prefer Staub a little more for it's better finish.>
Can you elaborate a bit on the better finish? I know some people like Staub because it has a dark interior, so that they don't have to worry about looking at the stain from a white surface. Also the black matte surface (from Staub) is said to able to take on a seasoning surface unlike the glossy white surface from Le Cresuset. Are these what you mean by "better" finish, or do you mean something else different? Thannks.
You are correct on those points. In addition, in the non-functional cosmetics the "gloss" on the Staub exterior is still there and my LC are dull though not cracked. This means a bubble over is easier to clean with the Staub - my LC is still stained today ... :-( I guess it serves me right for over filling it.
The dark Staub interior is just more user friendly to me. With the LC I tend to clean and scrub way past "clean" to get rid of the stains. I'm not going to use an abrasive cleaner every time to make it look nice either.
In the US, Lodge is the only game in town for plain cast iron...not sure about Australia (wonder if you guys still make Furphy ovens...sort of a cross between an American camp oven and a South African potje.)
12-inch (L10SK3) is the "go-to" skillet. The 8-inch (L5SK3) is a very nice size for a second. For serving 10 people, neither will really be adequate. There are bigger skillets out there, but they don't match up well with most ranges...they are better for camp fires and high-cap outdoor stoves.
The 5-qt Dutch oven with loop handles (no bail) L8DOL3 is sort of perfect. Again, serving 10 is a stretch for a main dish, and there is a 7-qt model L10DOL3 available, just have never seen in the stores.
Oh boy, here we go again. My opinion is that the pre-seasoning is JUST FINE.Leave it alone...no need to sand, scour, or take a grinding wheel to it. The pre-seasoning IS (like any initial seasoning) just a start....the seasoning process takes time (think "seasons"). Understand that seasoning a skillet is a whole different deal than seasoning a Dutch oven. Folks mostly fry in skillets, so the seasoning process is mostly about building up layer after layer. You probably will do a lot of soups and stews in your Dutch oven, which wears through seasoning...so you need to actively work in tasks that will build the seasoning back up (I pop popcorn and bake no-knead bread in mine, which seems to do the trick.)
Good luck...enjoy shopping!