Right off the bat, you should be informed that as of January 1, 2013, Lodge will suspend production of the Signature Series until further notice. This is NOT a discontinuation. The Signature line is suspended until redesigning and production resumes. In the meantime, pick up some great deals here on Amazon and ebay.
The Handle is the Big News Here
A few years ago, Lodge, America's largest maker of cast iron cookware, came out with the Signature Series cast iron grill pan and standard frying pans with a stay-cool stainless steel handle! Using a stainless steel handle was the perfect metal to choose for that. Here are the benefits:
1. Stainless steel is a poor conductor of heat due to the alloy of chromium and nickel added to the carbon steel to make it stainless. The traditional one-piece cast iron fry pan had, of course, an integral cast iron handle that becomes so hot that an insulated pad or handle cover is absolutely required to prevent serious burns. Not so with a stay-cool stainless steel handle.
2. A stainless steel handle does not rust, ever.
3. The ergonomic, curved handle is comfortable to hold when cooking or frying. It gives you just the right leverage too.
4. The handle has a professional, attractive appearance. Surely, it does not have that down-home look, yet it does have a more 21st Century, upscale appeal. Plus you get a stainless steel stay-cool Helper Handle opposite the long main handle to make lifting easier.
The Body of the Pan
The pan body has changed shape, it is much more vertical than the traditional flared walls of the bare cast iron of the pan body itself. The benefits of traditional bare cast iron are many.
1. The main benefit is its ability to spread heat evenly across the bottom for even temperature, and for superior cooking performance...no hot spots so that all the food in the pan has access to the almost the same temperature, center to edge, so that all the food pieces will cook evenly and at the same time, and finish cooking at the same time.
2. A seasoned cast iron pan is NONSTICK so you can cook eggs and pancakes in it. These pans come pre-seasoned! An enameled cast iron pan also ensures even heat, but is NOT non-stick, though it is wonderful as for certain low heat, slow cooking techniques such as braising and stewing with acidic ingredients such as wine, tomatoes, citrus, etc. Bare cast iron such a Lodge is not appropriate for that(bare cast iron and acidic food are not compatible because it causes off-tastes or undesirable color changes, such as graying). On the other hand, food will stick to enameled cast iron at higher heat, so bare cast iron, such as this Lodge grill pan and fry pans are best for that.
3. The shape of these Lodge Signature pans is superior to the traditional cast iron fry pan shape. The side walls of the Lodge Signature grill and fry pans are almost vertical, almost like a traditional saute pan, instead of flaring noticeably outward as they do with the traditional cast iron fry pan shape. For the same given diameter you enjoy a larger surface area to cook on than otherwise.
4. Two surface options are available. The Grill Pan bottom has raised ridges on the bottom to raise the food above the bottom of the pan for gentler cooking and to ensure that fat collects UNDER the food instead of sitting in the fat while cooking and retaining the fats, meats and fowl in particular, and for Pannini sandwiches, for healthier eating.
The Flat Bottomed fry pan versions are best for many other cooking techniques and food where you want full contact with the bottom such as when cooking eggs, bacon, or for searing steaks, chops, or veal, or when the recipe calls for full contact on a flat surface.
5. Sizes. The Signature Series grill pan version is 12 inches in diameter. The standard flat bottom Signature Series frying pans come in 10 inch and 12 inch diameters.
I have used my Lodge Signature Grill and Fry pans for several years with great success. You will find that it is almost impossible to destroy them. Will the pans to the kids, and your kids can will them to the grandkids, and they to theirs, and so on, well, almost.
Congratulations Lodge, you have designed a winner here. Highly recommended.
I hope this was helpful to you. If you have questions, please reply in the Comment section below...I would be glad to help.
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