I can't even remember what got me interested in pans, probably wanting to try cooking more and watching some cooking videos on YouTube, but I kind of started wanting to get a cast-iron skillet specifically so started reading up on them. Hey, if you're going to spend $50 on something you need to study them and create a comparison spreadsheet ... right?
Not only did cast-iron look great for cooking but there are some studies that show risks to Aluminium / Teflon cookware ... not that the WTS was "right" about Aluminium, but Teflon can give off carcinogenic chemicals if overheated (so what if it chips off into your food?). The worse that can happen with cast iron is that you get extra Iron in your diet.
I was pretty decided I'd order a Lodge brand one from Amazon but then I saw some at the local Costco - 2 Italian made skillets for about $38 CAD. Sold!
They were pre-seasoned so when I got home I decided I'd cook myself a nice fried egg sandwich on one of my new pans. Oh dear. Now I had a new skillet with stuck on egg and a sense of disappointment.
I read up some more about seasoning and care for your pans. Turns out a cast-iron pan is a commitment and the first "cooking" can often stick. I felt less bad. Also, the pre-seasoning doesn't mean thorough seasoning.
After cleaning it I went through what ultimately took about 2 days of oiling them and baking to season them both. They got blacker and blacker and smoother and smoother. I used vegetable shortening but next time they need it I'm going to try Flax Seed oil which looks like it gives a harder / smoother coating.
But even so, now when I cook eggs they slide around like it's Teflon coated! A bit of butter, low heat. Salt and pepper seasoning in the pan before flipping and nice over-easy eggs. Mmmmmnn.
Cleaning consists of running it under the hot tap, sprinkling in a little course sea-salt and scrubbing it with a brush before popping it back on the stove to dry thoroughly (important!) and then rubbing it with a little oil and putting it away. No soap required - building up my tasty seasoning baby!
I've tried cooking steaks and they came out great, so good that I've bought some nicer cuts of prime rib that I'll be cooking tonight. The pan just soaks up the heat and gives it off at a much more constant level than Aluminium so it retains the heat when you put the steak in.
I'm also going to try some giant Yorkshire Pudding next and Pizza also looks good to cook in them.
Yes, I'm a convert. I know I sound like an old-lady but I love my new skillets!
But apparently, the new-made cast-iron pans are not the same as the old ones. The surface is rougher and the older ones were sometimes machined to have a smoother finish (which probably costs a lot more). I've seen some people are starting to manufacture those older-style finish ones so I'm going to keep an eye out for those being available.
But I can definitely recommend giving cast-iron a go if you haven't already.
Now, who wants eggs?