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Benefits of enameled & porcelain cast iron over traditional cast iron?

Looking to add a high quality American made cast iron 12"ish skillet for searing & getting that awesome crust on steaks & burgers - is Lodge my only option for US made?

I see there is cast iron that is coated in enamel & porcelain (which is on outside, which is on inside?)

What is the point & benefit of enameled porcelain over normal cast iron?

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  1. I have no idea about enamel AND porcelain coated cast iron, the only ones I've seen are enamelled inside and out. The benefit is that enamel is non-reactive so you can cook anything in it, and you also don't need to worry about rust or seasoning; wash it like any other pan.

    The downside is that it sticks and may chip/crack if you bang it too hard.

    If you want uncoated cast iron, and new, Lodge is your only option for US made. Lodge enamelled cast iron is not made in the US however. That is made in China. I would stick to made in France for enamelled stuff.

    I personally like enamelled dutch ovens, and bare skillets.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Sirrith

      Ahh ok, so if I'm wanting a cast iron pan for crispy crust on steaks & burgers I do NOT want enameled correct?

      1. re: johnnyscience

        correct.

        1. re: johnnyscience

          Short answer: Yes.
          I agree with PaulJ.

        2. re: Sirrith

          Some of the confusion is the color of the interior finish of enameled cast iron...some is a light-colored glaze, some is a black or dark gray glaze. Both are enameled inside and out, the dark finish just looks like seasoned cast iron.

        3. olvidacookware.com offers nickel-coated cast iron, American made. Skillets are ten-inch and thirteen inch. This allows the high-heat searing of plain cast iron, the non-reactivity of ECI, and no seasoning. Highly rated by Cooks Illustrated, only complaint was price

          6 Replies
          1. re: mwhitmore

            Hmm this cookware does t seem to get the best reviews because of a poor nickel coating that is pitted and rusts.

            I recently bought a couple All-clad pans, one being their copper line.

            Can I get just as good of a sear on a steak or burger in an All-clad pan that I can in a cast iron?

            I'm just wondering if I still really need a cast iron for searing steaks & burgers after buying really expensive SS All-clad?

            1. re: johnnyscience

              The poor reviews seem to have been when the Olvida first came out and had some quality control problems, not so much recently. And Olvida will replace if you have problems. You *can* sear in All-Clad, but cast-iron will sear better because it retains heat better than anything else. All-Clad will cool down when you put the cold meat in it. And if you want it *only* for searing, Lodge is quite cheap and you don't even need to worry about seasoning (Some people who have well-seasoned cast-iron keep a separate 'searing pan'.)

              1. re: mwhitmore

                That's good news to hear about olivade.

                So even though it has the nickel coating it cooks & sears just like regular cast iron?

                It's obviously a lot more pricier than a normal cast iron $120 vs $20 but ill try to read some more reviews on it before making a decision.

                It's going to be hard to beat the $20 deal of a good Lodge pan.

                I really want to get Lodge's cast iron 12" casserole from their Signature series, it has two SS stay cool loop handles, it's also around $120 but I've really been enjoying my All-clad with double loop handles vs a normal long handle.

                1. re: johnnyscience

                  What makes cast iron work so well for searing a steak is that one, you can heat the living daylights out of it and it isn't going to warp; two, more importantly, it has far greater thermal mass than your normal stainless cookware or even most copper cookware for that matter. It's the thermal mass that allows the pan to transfer heat to the steak and not significantly cool the pan. Any material that has that high of a density and is 1/4 inch thick could do the same thing ;) The nickel coating really has no effect on the thermal mass.

                  For your requirements a $20 Lodge would be just fine.

                  1. re: johnnyscience

                    Yes, cooks and sears identical to regular cast iron. But not better, so 'hard to beat $20'? Exactly. Olvida is non-reactive and lower maintenance, neither of which you need for searing.

                2. re: johnnyscience

                  You can get a great sear with a SS all clad pan

              2. For searing I'd go with bare cast iron. I do like my Le Creuset enameled for reactive dishes though.

                1. The main practical benefits of an enameled cast iron cookware (over bare cast iron cookware) is its inertness. Foods do not react with enemaled cast iron, where they can with bare cast iron.

                  That being said, I think bare cast iron is much better than enameled cast iron when it comes to searing on a skillet. The bare cast iron skillet can be seasoned to become nonstick, and it can handle high heat and can endure metal utensils. Of course, it is more durable as well.....etc.

                  1. For a skillet, just go with a plain cast iron skillet...if buying new, Lodge is the only game in town. It's relatively cheap and generally high quality. Cast iron last forever if kept from rusting, so lots of old domestic iron out there...some of it is highly coveted (Griswold and Wagner) and a lot of it is no-name stuff that will do just fine.

                    Enameled cast iron is ideal for things like Dutch ovens where you will have something stewing in it for hours...this type of cooking is tough on traditional seasoning, so the enamel helps make maintenance a snap.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: MikeB3542

                      Is an enamel cast iron dutch oven better than traditional for things like chilli or spaghetti sauce?

                      1. re: Smc91766

                        I would say yes. (somewhat personal, but overall is either a big yes or a small yes).

                        1. re: Smc91766

                          Definitely. I have eaten many tomato based dishes cooked and served in bare cast iron, and every time I have noticed an unpleasant taste from the layer closest to the pan.