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Gear review: Victoria Cast Iron Skillet

 
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Victoria cast iron products are made in Columbia (it's a long-established, local owned company), and I already own their tortilla press (I think they are pretty much the reference for high quality tortilla presses). I figured that if Columbian housewifes need to cook their tortillas in something, they probably use Victoria cast iron skillets.

I had been scouting for a few months for used cast iron, without finding any. So I bought mine for 35$CAN  on Amazon (Currently 25$US on Amazon.com), which seemed reasonable.

It came pre-seasoned (whatever that means), with an instruction manual that said exactly what Paul says in his own video guide: boil a little water if something stick, scour with salt if need be, heat it up to make sure it's really dry after use, rub a little fat on it before storing.  

Right from the first use, eggs were sliding off the bottom. The bottom has some grain to it - it's not mirror-smooth. But already, it is getting smoother with use. It has a little spout on each side to facilitate pouring sauces or whatnot in a plate. And the 10'' size is perfect for my needs.

I've been using it for several weeks now, and it's holding up well to all I've put it through. I've used vegetable oils, lard, bacon fat & butter. I've cooked mostly vegetable stir fries, eggs, pancakes and tortillas. It's also perfect for popping corn (borrowing the lid from my soup pot). It also performed well on my electric range as well as on a camping gas stove.

Cleanup is a breeze. It is a bit heavy for me to use with just one hand (I'm a petite woman with flimsy wrists) but I can live with that.

But the ultimate test was my mom (whose own cast iron skillet has half a century of seasoning built into it, and who used to flip pancakes professionally in her youth), who has deemed it "a very good pan" when making pancakes at my place this morning.

In short, if you have to buy a cast iron skillet new, this is probably a fair purchase.
 
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Thanks for the review, I'm intrigued.  I'm curious if you have any experience with Lodge cast iron skillets, and if so how this compares?
 
Kena Landry
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No, I don't have experience with American brands, unfortunately.
 
Rob Lineberger
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The Victoria seems a bit lighter and more ergonomic.  Thanks for the review.
 
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This is great to know! We have slowly acquired some vintage cast iron pans, but are still missing some handy sizes. I’ll check them out!
 
Kena Landry
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Long term report, 9ish months after my initial review.

The Victoria cast-iron pan proved to be a workhorse in my kitchen. I use it daily, often several times a day. In addition to the usual eggs and pancakes, I bake bread in it, make one-pot pasta and quick casseroles, pop corn, improvise quick lunchtime stews... I couldn't imagine going car camping or to a cabin without it (rental cabin skillets are always the scary scratched teflon kind). And we recently bought a larger 12" one for larger jobs, but the 10" remains the most versatile.

Its bottom is now shiny black with no roughness. It's been damaged a couple of times due to sloppy care (generally forgetting it on a hot range when it dries) but nothing that a little quick seasoning didn't solve. Most of the time when it looks like it needs some love, I'll just make a batch of tortillas (with a little bit of fat) or a stack of pancakes, and that is enough to restore the tricky spots.

It's very easy to care for, and most of the times, cleanup is limited to a quick brushing under hot water and drying on the stovetop. Otherwise, boiling a little water in it until the sticky stuff peels away works just fine.

I'll oil it when I don't expect to use it right away with whatever oil is close by (although bacon fat and lard do the best job).

Overall, I am extremely satisfied and hope this is the last cast iron pan I'll ever buy, after half a dozen non-stick pans that did not live up to their promises.

(Photo of a batch of pork fat being gently rendered into lard. That's my yearly urban foray into pig butchering )
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