Product Type: ICD Cookware
Newest Review: ... with a skillet - roughly speaking its a frying pan. Kind of. You could happily refer to this skillet as a frying pan, but you couldn't refe... more
Cast Iron Skillet
ICD Cast Iron Skillet 11.5"
Member Name: alexandjef
ICD Cast Iron Skillet 11.5"
Advantages: Super versatile
Disadvantages: A little on the pricey side (but worth it!)
I love cooking - I do it for a job and I do it for fun. My days off are full of experimenting with recipes, baking and generally making lots of mess, I like nothing more than cooking from scratch and seeing what happens.
A few years ago I acquired 4 cast iron skillets - they are 11 inches in diameter and have two small handles on each side, the kind of things you'd get in a Tapas bar and have had copious abuse in my kitchen. I picked them up cheap from a friend who was getting rid of some excess kitchen wares from a former restaurant venture and I wouldn't have bought them otherwise due the price. I'm glad I did, being cast iron they are very hard wearing - they will last a life time if treated right and they serve a wide range of jobs in the kitchen. However, as they don't have a long handle they are bit tricky used on the hob - enter the ICD 11.5 inch skillet.
I knew I wanted a skillet with a handle, so a few weeks ago I had a quick look on Amazon. Right away a few pretty intriguing options came up. I took particular note of the Lodge range - this was the make of the ones I owned and I knew they were good. I found the size I wanted but disappointingly it was out of stock - so after another little look about I arrived at this, and for about £20 it was within the price range I was ready to pay so snapped it up.
Those unfamiliar with a skillet - roughly speaking its a frying pan. Kind of. You could happily refer to this skillet as a frying pan, but you couldn't refer to a regular frying pan as a skillet. Skillets tend to by cast iron, one solid piece of metal, don't usually have non-stick surfaces and have low sides. As far as I'm aware, there is no real definition but frying pans matching that description tend to be called skillets rather than 'cast iron frying pans'. They don't have to have long handles like frying pans are but do need some kind of handle to grab on so its not just a metal bowl. Its getting confusing now isn't it? You kind of just to know something is a skillet - they look and feel heavy duty and have the character of a heavy duty cooking utensil.
Another common characteristic of a skillet is they tend to be quite small, about 10-12 inches rather than the 14-17 of a regular frying pan, and this skillet fits right into that category at 11.5 inch. It might be small, but its heavy - that's one of the first things you notice and it feels robust too. Right after getting your hands on this you become aware its going to be something you're going to using for years to come. I wanted one 11 inches for a specific reason and many will be put off that it seems quite small. You're not going to be able to fix up a Spag Bol for a family of eight in this, but that's not what its for - so don't worry, 11.5 inches is more than enough for ample kitchen experimentation. And not just experimentation, you might even get a decent meal out of it.
They fact it is cast iron has its pros and cons - firstly seasoning. The older skillets I have came pre-seasoned, so I was using them right away but this did not come seasoned so a little preparation was in order before I could use it. Naturally cast iron is not non-stick, its needs some help and that means seasoning it. Simply just wipe the inside with olive or vegetable oil and stick in an oven, on full, for about an hour. After you have taken it out and let it cool it will be partially non-stick and ready to use, but the more you use it the more non-stick it will get. This first hour of prep is a small price to pay for something that actually gets more non-stick as you use it, rather than with say Teflon that will wear out over time.
One of the biggest pros about this pan, and the reason I got it that it can be used in the oven. Do you ever fry sausages but fail to get a restaurant looking even cook, one side burnt and the other raw? (I understand this sounds like it came right out of a JML advert) Or burgers, find they burn on the outside but raw in the middle? A skillet is you answer and way more. This can just be stuck in the oven. So fry your burgers on each side on the hob in the pan, then stick the whole pan in the oven to let it cook through. That's just a perk of having such a pan, with some messing about you can get so much from this. As its pretty small it can sit on the top shelf of an oven with other skillets - 3 of my older ones and this can all fit on the top shelf in my oven so I can have 4 different things cooking at once. Great for things like tapas or if you making something with lots of small components that need to go in the oven. You could even use this skillet to cook small lasagnas as well as fry sausages.Cooking a lasagna in something like this might seem odd, but that's exactly what I use my other skillets for. Due to their size you could make 4 small ones at once, ideal if you cooking for meat eaters and veggies.
Being careful is essential with this, it will get crazy hot. The heat transfer well throughout the entire thing including the handle so if you grab that you'll end up cooking your hand instead. This heat transfer is great though, I often not only cook in this pan but also bring the pan to the table (make sure you put it down on something like a thick wooden chopping board or you'll ruin your table) as not only does it stay nice and hot its got a great rustic look - great if friends are round.
If you're looking to get more out of your kitchen and waiting for the next cutting edge gadget - look no further and pick up a bit of kit that's been around for hundreds if not thousands of years. You can fry, bake, grill, saute and serve with this pan - a kitchen essential.
Summary: A great addition to any kitchen
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