I have a non-enameled Lodge 10.25" skillet that I tried to use for Chicken Paprikash (second image below). I’ve only had this skillet for a few months and I’m impressed with how tender the chicken came out. But my skillet was too small, so I’m thinking about getting something more like the skillet in the first image below, particularly something deeper that can handle a baked 1-pot chicken dish like this. I’m just wondering about a couple of small details:
Should I worry about an enameled skillet at all and if so, exterior only or inside and out?
Does brand really matter all that much? I’ve read reviews and comparisons about Several brands (Staub, lLecCeuset) but I’m thinking about just sticking with Lodge, any thoughts?
I have three Lodge pans (no enamel), and three or four Le Creuset enameled sauce pans and Dutch ovens. The latter was acquired several decades ago (now a days they are stupid expensive). Both are good.
But if your talking about non-enameled cast iron… it is great for everything “except” high acidity contents (i.e vinegar, tomatoes, citrus). Very tough to keep up the seasoning when acids are used in them frequently, and there are articles about flavor being affected as well.
So I rarely use my Lodge skillets for pasta sauce and the like, although I do use one for sloppy joes… I just rinse it well afterwards and apply a light coating of oil, followed by a 2hr bake in a 400F oven. I have had no problem keeping my seasoning up in this case, but cooking a tomato based sauce for hours is probably not a good idea.
As for pans with enamel only on the outside, it makes no difference as it is only a cosmetic thing.
Enameled cast iron cookware can handle all cooking ingredients (acidic, basic…etc). Enameled cast ion cookware biggest concern is its ability to handle very high temperature or sudden change of temperature.
In term of brand, it does matter. Staub and LeCresuet enameled surface is more stable and less likely to chip over time. However, they are about 4-10 times more expensive. A Staub and Le Cresuset enameled cast iron skillet is about $200. Other brand would be about $20-40.
they are prettier.
I have multiple cast iron pans which I use for ‘acidic’ dishes right regularly with zero comma zilch effect on their ‘seasoning’
do not store acidic stuff in the cast iron - plopping a cast iron pot/pan full of tomatoes into the fridge overnight is not a good move.
To HappyOnion (Tom)’ s point, enameled cast iron is chemical inert. However, once it chips, it chips, and there is no fixing it. Whereas the seasoned layer of the bare cast iron cookware may degrade and come off over time, but you can always re-season a new surface. I think for the Chicken Paprikash dish the enameled cast iron will work great. However, you probably don’t want to use it for say blacken tuna where the heat will go pretty high.
Thoughts on enameled cast iron cookware with a textured matte interior? Such as the the Staub skillet here. I mention this because I use a Le Crueset skillet and a Staub Dutch oven regularly, both with a dark matte textured interior, and I believe I’d have to try very, very hard to chip either piece.
I also have an inherited old school large cast iron skillet that I wish I could still love. Eventually it proved too fiddly for me given that I want to be able to cook anything and everything in my cast iron without stripping away the seasoning.
My only issue with dark interiors (which you can’t really avoid with plain ‘ol cast iron) is that you can’t see the fond develop and if it starts to burn.
That’s the downside, for sure. Bright light in my range hood helps me see the fond starting though I definitely have to watch like a hawk.
I like the dark/black enameled surface. The dark side is that you cannot seem much on the surface, but it can also be its upside as well. The white enameled surface is bound to stain and many people struggle to keep it white. There are articles after articles about how to keep it white.
The good thing about the dark/black enameled is that you cannot see it and you won’t feel obligate to keep it super stain-free.
For the past several years, I have been entranced with the Stargazer brand of CI. Not as pricey as Finex or Butterpat. Stargazer is made in the USA and to me, the design of the pan combines both modern and classic looks. Maybe it is the handle design.
I haven’t bought one yet, still saving money. The pans come in 3 sizes: 10.5 skillet, 12 inch skillet, or 13.5 inch braiser. They are made in the USA.
If you haven’t seen them: https://stargazercastiron.com/pages/story
Just s a thought, slightly off topic. I grew up with cast iron in many sizes and of mixed brands, loved it, cooked in it, was comfortable with its anticipated performance. But, as I get older, it is also very heavy, even the thinner ones such as Griswold. The perils of aging. To help with this, I am making a switch to mild steel and copper, both of which require more care than cast, and adjustment of cooking style. I am still using my Staub covered oval DO and my LC round DO regularly, and I still pull out my smaller cast skillets, which are basically non stick. I will also mention that if you are in the ATL area on a weekend when the Scott Antique Market is in town, there is a vendor selling refurbished antique cast in many forms and some coveted makers.