need advice on first CI purchase UPDATE made first purchase

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need advice on first CI purchase UPDATE made first purchase

Postby BillZ » Mon Jan 14, 2013 7:43 pm

I have been getting interested in cast Iron lately and would like some suggestions on what would be a good first piece. To save space and weight, I only want to carry one with me while camping. A dutch oven I'm afraid is too big for my taste. I want a skillet that I can cook a meal in and fry some eggs and sausage for breakfast. What is your favorite all-around cast iron cooking skillet/pot/pan?

UPDATE:
I made my first cast iron purchase today from a local auction picker. He had 7 or 8 pieces and I picked what I thought were the 3 best. 2 skillets that are in decent shape and one big rusty one that I want to restore.

The pics are a little large so you may need to right click and choose "view image" to see the whole thing.

In case you can't make out the pics, the #8 says Wagner Ware Sidney and has 1058F on the other end of the bottom.

On the #9 skillet, the only marking I can see is the big "Y". It is pretty crusty so there may be more markings. A Cast Iron forum I posted on is stumped with an accurate ID for this one so far. Most agree it is old and probably a Lodge or Wagner. I plan to clean it up and re-season.

The big rusty one is 12" in diameter and has the Lodge logo on the bottom with "USA" and 12SK

I paid $35 for all three.


Number 1:

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Number 2:

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Number 3:

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Last edited by BillZ on Sat Jan 19, 2013 3:03 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: need advice on first CI purchase

Postby wagondude » Mon Jan 14, 2013 10:26 pm

Even though you don't think you want one, the dutch oven is versitile. The lid can be inverted on a stand over some coals to use as a griddle. A 10"- 12" skillet would be a close second. Or you could get a lodge combo cooker. It is a small skillet and a deeper pot that can be used individually or together like a small dutch oven.
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Re: need advice on first CI purchase

Postby Woodbutcher » Mon Jan 14, 2013 10:45 pm

I have to agree, a 10" Dutch Oven (Camp Oven) is the most versatile. But if you don't want to go that way a good 10" fry pan will get you through. You might look for a Chicken fryer. Same pan just a little deeper.
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Re: need advice on first CI purchase

Postby bobhenry » Tue Jan 15, 2013 7:16 am

If I were gonna have only one piece of cast iron I would opt for a deep chicken frier with lid.

You can press it into service as a dutch oven by adding a healthy length of chain to place on the lid to hold the coals in place. I have a 10" camp oven lid that just fits my skillet. I use an old gas stove grate to get the space needed for the coals underneath when baking or roasting.

With a good fire or a cooktop you can whip up eggs and bacon in the skillet one minute and a dump cake later on using the D.O. method above.
Last edited by bobhenry on Tue Jan 15, 2013 7:24 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: need advice on first CI purchase

Postby bobhenry » Tue Jan 15, 2013 7:22 am

wagondude wrote:Even though you don't think you want one, the dutch oven is versitile. The lid can be inverted on a stand over some coals to use as a griddle. A 10"- 12" skillet would be a close second. Or you could get a lodge combo cooker. It is a small skillet and a deeper pot that can be used individually or together like a small dutch oven.



yep what wagondude said.......Image
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Re: need advice on first CI purchase

Postby Corwin C » Wed Jan 16, 2013 9:42 pm

Recommendations are tough ... it really depends on what you cook and how much. If you're cooking stews, chili, potroasts, casseroles, etc. you will be able to get away with a smaller pan than if you're frying chicken, brasing ribs, or baking. I have better luck with a pan that is too big than one that is too small.

Also, make sure the iron you are buying is good quality. It should "ding" (a bright, clear sound) when lightly tapped instead of "clunk". Some of the inexpensive "junk" that I've seen in stores recently will cause frustration as you try to get the seasoning established and tackle the learning curve that is present when first using cast iron. It is very different to use than the typical stamped metal Teflon coated frying pan found in most kitchens. (IMO it's superior in every way except weight)

I'll make my suggestion by telling you what I usually use. I have all kinds and sizes of cast iron with a substantial inventory to choose from. When camping with my family of four (quickly growing teenage kids), my 12" Lodge DO and/or my 12" Lodge Skillet is what I turn to probably 90% of the time. The DO lid fits on the skillet, so it does double duty.

At home, I have cast iron without legs to make it easier to use on the stove top and in the oven, but I still end up using a 12" DO or skillet almost all the time. Most of my home CI is Griswold with a few Wagner and some unknown manufacturer (family heirlooms and yard sale purchases.)

When there's only one or two of us, I often (but not always) drop down to a 10". My 6" and 8" ovens are usually used for side dishes or desserts. For groups 6-12, I generally use a deep 12", 14" or deep 14", for more than that, I'll use 2-12's or pull out the deep 16" or 20". BTW .. this will feed HEARTY eaters and no one ever leaves hungry.

Best of luck with your purchase and may you enjoy your iron when you get it.
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