NOTE – The 10, 12 and 15 inch skillets are all on sale today for 20 off retail. Also, lately I have seen a debate running on twitter between “carnivore bros”, what’s better, stainless steel or cast iron for searing meat. The answer is sorry bros, you are both wrong. Carbon steel is the way.
Every day I bring you an item on Amazon that I personally use or has been purchased by many members of the audience and I have researched enough to recommend.
Today’s TSP Amazon Item of the day is the Lodge Carbon Steel Seasoned Skillet. These are my go to for searing and if you ever go to a professional restaurant where a lot of searing happens you will likely see dozens of these in use, and there is a reason, they work really damn good. While I used them mostly for searing at first they have now become my go to for 90% or more of my stove top cooking.
There are quite a few options from 8 inches up to a huge 15 inch one with double handles. I currently own an 8 and a few 12 inch and one 15 inch skillet and they serve my needs very well.
I am a huge fan of old cast iron but it is heavy and it is not efficient when it comes to getting it hot, what it is good at is staying hot once you get it there. Thinner carbon steel is efficient at getting hot quickly. These come pre seasoned and if you use proper care they will stay stick free and last forever.
When I first got these pans I really used them the most for searing off meat in two ways.
One – I will sear steaks and such BEFORE finishing on the grill or in the oven. They provide the best sear I have ever gotten and if you are finishing in the oven they can go strait in.
Two – For searing after a sous vide cook. Again they are just the best thing I have found. I have also begun doing reverse sear sous vide as well, especially with skin on duck breast, then a second quick sear after the cook.
But over three years that has changed. First I found the factory seasoning on them to be very good, way better than I expected. They are very low stick, note I didn’t say non stick. I have pretty much given up on other cookware at this point and use Lodge carbon steel pans exclusively. Honestly I have two 12 inch skillets that sit on my stove at all times. I use these for 70-80% of things that I cook indoors at this point.
The primary advantage of the carbon skillets over the cast iron is they heat up a lot faster and are easier to get searing hot. They also weigh less so they are easier to toss food around with when you don’t want to use a spatula and damage food by doing so. Also being able to go from searing on a stove top to finishing in the oven is perfect for thicker cuts of meat, things like seared duck breasts, 1 inch strip steaks, etc.
But what about sticking? This is what every pot and pan set on TV sells to, a non stick surface. Look I won’t say nothing sticks, because you can find things that will. What I will say is the “egg test” is what most people base their opinions on. Well in a well seasoned and cared for carbon steel skillet you have to chase an egg with the spatula at times because it is almost too non stick.
After trying both expensive and low cost cookware over the years today I do almost all of my cooking with the following
- A Lodge 8 inch Carbon Skillet – small sides
- Several Lodge 12 inch Carbon Skillets – the workhorses that do most things
- A Lodge 15 Inch Two Handed Skillet – for larger main courses
- A Lodge Dutch Oven – for Osso Busco, pot roasts, etc.
- An assortment of stock pots – boiling, soup making, stock making, etc.
I feel like I have mostly had what can only be called an amicable divorce from cast iron. As in I still respect it, we still have a friendship and do some stuff together but carbon steel has replaced cast irons role in my life. It is just better, period. Honestly at this point about the only cast iron item I use often is my dutch oven. Again more on this in an upcoming show.
Lastly as a prepper, when it comes to carbon steel pans, I love the efficiency here. If you are ever in a situation where fuel needs to be rationed you want a pan that heats up fast, cooks fast and finishes fast. So check out Lodge’s Carbon Steel Skillets today.
Remember you can always find all of our reviews at TspAz.com
P.S. – For those involved in the stainless vs. cast iron debate, I suggest a trip to a high end restaurant with an arranged tour of the kitchen. If the restaurant uses pans to sear and cook meats at high temp, there is a 95% or better chance you are going to see carbon steel skillets all over that kitchen, and there is a reason.
P.S.S. – I find the Lodge pans to be more than adequate for my kitchen. I have read some negative reviews on Amazon and most are frankly people that don’t know their ass from a hole in the ground in the kitchen. That said they are not “perfect” and not a high end pan. If you want to spend almost double but get pans like you’d find in the highest end kitchens in the resturant scene check out Matfer Bourgeat. These are French Made and while I am not willing to pay the premium on them for all my pans I am thinking about adding a 12 incher just to experience the difference. Note you will have to season from scratch with these but it is actually preferable assuming you take the time to do it right.