Another vote for Lodge Cast Iron from me. I have a couple of them and they've never failed me. I'm pretty obsessive about ensuring they're cleaned, seasoned and put away, though. My wife puts up with it.
Well, I stumbled into a specialty shop here in OKC a few weeks ago and they had some Smithey pans. When I saw them I was mesmerized. They truly are beautiful. I'm a huge Lodge guy and it was almost sacrilege to like the Smithey pans so much. Lol.Lodge is not the only US manufacturer. Though they have a smaller line, the products from Smithey (N Charleston, SC) are far superior to Lodge, if more expensive, because their surfaces are polished smooth. If you want extremely well made CI in your arsenal, as I do, Smithey is the bomb. In all cases, proper seasoning (or reseasoning) with food grade pure flaxseed oil is a must. No other oil comes close to properly seasoning with flaxseed.
Couldn't help myself. Had a Bass Pro gift card burning a hole in my wallet. Got the 8 inch and 6 inch Lodge skillets to add to my collection.Well, I stumbled into a specialty shop here in OKC a few weeks ago and they had some Smithey pans. When I saw them I was mesmerized. They truly are beautiful. I'm a huge Lodge guy and it was almost sacrilege to like the Smithey pans so much. Lol.
Then the other day my wife says she isn't completely happy with the Lodge 10 or the Lodge 10.5 flattop we have. So, for Christmas she's now getting the Smithey 10 skillet ($159) and Smithey 10 flat top ($99) that also doubles as a lid for the skillet.
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Although I will say it's a bit of a we gift since now I can consolidate all the Lodge cast iron for use on my Webers.
So, now my full Lodge collection....
Combo Cooker, dutch oven and shallow skillet that doubles as the lid:
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Classic 10 inch skillet:
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10 inch flat top:
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Hopefully the wife is okay getting cast iron pans for Christmas. Lol. I also picked up a matching Italian made bowl set for "something pretty" to hopefully cover my ***, just in case.
I wouldn't normally either.... But, having a wife and kids has made me do all kinds of things I never thought I'd do over the years. LolI saw the "Smithy" cast iron pan in person while shopping at the Alpine Shop in Kirkwood MO (similar to REI, but local to St. Louis).
HOLY CRAP was it beautiful.... but about 4 to 5 times more $$$ than Lodge. I learned that the higher end cast iron pans have the cooking surfaces "polished" to a much smoother finish so in theory, they can be more non-stick than the lower priced Lodge, however, after watching some review videos, it was apparent that the expensive pan with the smooth finish wasn't really that much better in terms of non-stick performance.
I like shiny things as much as the next guy, but spending $200 ~ $300 on a cast iron pan when I already own Lodge just ain't happening.
I'm tinkering with the idea of carbon steel pans for cooking outside with rather than cast iron since they're a little bit lighter weight. I think a 14" carbon steel saute pan with handles on both sides would be a winner for fajita nightsI have been using my carbon steel pans more and more often in lieu of cast iron lately. My lodge carbon steel pan came from the factory with a better finish than my cast iron pans did, meaning it was a little less work to get the seasoning I wanted. Still love my cast iron though. It does what it does so well, so I just keep using it.
Bingo! Hence why the wife now has a fleet of Smithey and I have my Lodge collection. While I do all the handwash dishes in the house, she won't let me even clean her new Smithey pans. Lol.Cast iron is a very particular finish. The pan that you use to brown meat is not the same pan that will release your eggs or cornbread. Not that the pan is different - the care and seasoning is different. Part of cooking with cast iron is literally knowing how to hide your egg and corn bread pans from everyone else in the house.
This nugget of wisdom may be hard to believe because of all the cowboys and Boy Scouts that use the same pan to cook their bacon and eggs because that is good enough for them.
An interesting take, for sure. I don't know for sure if what you say is true, but intuitively, it makes sense. I don't think Martha Washington bragged to her friends about how heavy her cookware was. My personal pans are Wagner and Griswold and would probably meet your idea of thinner and lighter. They are truly more elegant than the modern Lodge stuff. Of course, neither holds a candle to the slender elegance of the lid of my modern Le Creuset saucepan which doubles as another pan (its a French style - I forget what this style is called).100+ years ago and up to the mid-20th century, most all CI cookware was thinner and lighter. Cast iron cookware got heavy in the late 1950s when automated molding lines came into use. Thicker castings could withstand the rigors of automated handling, and the cost of the extra iron was offset by the savings in labor. Polish grinding cooking surfaces, also labor intensive, went away in response to competition from cheap imported CI and "more modern" forms of cookware. You can make an unpolished pan as non-stick as a polished one; some would even say polishing was just a way to grind off undesirable nubs and call it "extra finished".