Since it has already been determined that cast iron and seasoned steel cookware from Lodge, at the very least, is designed to last a lifetime, it should come as no surprise that the items recently introduced right here in this column are of the utmost quality. What isn’t entirely obvious, however, is what it is like to cook with such cookware. What sticks and what doesn’t? Is the cookware difficult to clean? Would such cookware make a great gift for the dad or grad in your life?
The answer to the last question is an unmitigated yes, and that answer should allude, at least a little bit, to how the rest of this review is going to turn out. You see, neither cast iron nor seasoned steel is at all fussy to deal with. Best of all, barring severe thermal shock (hot pan dropped into cold water, for example), both types of pans are as close to indestructible as you can get.
Cast Iron Combo Cooker
Firstly, this is probably one of the smarter cookware purchases you can make. For just $58, you get a 3-inch deep skillet as well as a shallow skillet. The deep skillet is great for those one-pot meals that gets constructed on the stovetop and then shoved into the oven to cook slowly all day. It also is the perfect pan for things like fried chicken, arancini, or a pan of sauteed greens. The lid, on the other hand, is great for quicker cooking items like eggs and sausage, grilled cheese sandwiches or searing off a chunk of meat after it’s cooked sous vide for a while. This truly is the killer combo.
The “seasoning” of this Cast Iron Combo Cooker is surprisingly good. In the days of yore, the seasoning process was performed by the person who bought the pan. This involved coating the pan with cooking oil and baking it in a 350° F oven for an hour to polymerize the oil. A freshly seasoned pan, whether done by the factory or the buyer won’t have the shiny black surface with which most familiar with cast iron cookware would expect, but it’ll get there. The smooth, black surface is the result of lots of use and the carbonizing of many layers of polymerized oils. The seasoning of the Cast Iron Combo Cooker was non-stick right out of the box and remains so to this day. Nicely done, Lodge!
Seasoned Steel Skillet
Cooking with the 12-inch Seasoned Steel Skillet from Lodge is somewhat of a revelation for the uninitiated. It is only similar to cast iron in regard to weight and it is nothing like cooking in stainless steel or aluminum. Seasoned steel heats more quickly than cast iron, but it appears that it may not heat as evenly, but that is really of no matter for this pan. This pan is a pan of action. It’s long handle and sloped sides make it perfect for quickly moving food around in the pan, including flipping it, without the use of utensils (this requires some practice; see here).
As is the case with the cast iron pan mentioned above, the seasoning of this steel skillet is perfect, releasing eggs with no sticking on the first try. This, by the way, is something yet to be experienced with stainless or aluminum pans. Seasoned steel and cast iron pans from Lodge are simply the best thing I have ever cooked on. $50
All three of these pans share one very important thing in common; versatility. They work as well on the stove as they do in the oven, grill, or, in the case of the combo cooker, buried in a fire pit in the backyard. To check out all the carbon steel and cast iron goodness over at Lodge Manufacturing, click here. Feeling social? Check out the Lodge Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter pages.
**Full disclosure: These pans were provided at no cost for editorial consideration, to think otherwise would be silly.