I love cast iron cooking. I have only a small collection of a few cherished pieces, but it will absolutely grow with the addition of Smithey Cast Iron to Knifewear stores. My love affair with cast iron began just after finishing culinary school when my Grandmother bestowed her Father’s pan to me. It was likely cast sometime between 1890-1912. The surface is smooth as glass, you can feel the generations of hands on the handle, and everything you cook in it has a hint of bacon flavour from the thousands of rashers it has crisped to perfection. It brings me joy every time I put it on the heat. Over the weekend, I got to test drive a Smithey Ironware No. 12 Cast Iron Skillet, and though it isn’t a family heirloom (yet), it blew me away just like my generational pan.
Smithey Ironware is a continuation of the heirloom tradition. Born of founder Isaac Morton’s love of restoring classic cast Iron, Smithey is crafting cookware lines with a classic vintage style combined with modern technology and processes. Out of the box, these pans are simply stunning to look at. From the unique three-hole pattern on the lip to the beautiful copper hue of the original seasoning to the Valley Quail embossed on the handle, these pans make an immediate visual impact.
Once you get it on the heat, the true magic begins. Cooking with cast iron is simply different. The pan lives. It requires love and attention, although not nearly as much as you may have been led to believe. Heat the pan slowly, and allow a few minutes for it to come to temperature instead of blasting it on high. This will give you beautifully even heat across the pan and prevent any possibility of thermal warping. Once the pan is hot enough, it does an impressive job of retaining heat. This makes it perfect for pan-roasting, searing, sauteeing, baking, and more!
The Satin-smooth polish makes this pan nearly non-stick right out of the box. The first day I had the pan home, I made some scrambled eggs without any sticking. After a quick wipe and a little nob of butter, I turned out two immaculate over easies, and I could have fit at least a half dozen eggs in the pan comfortably. This 12-inch pan is a breakfast maker's dream. I was pretty excited to see how it would perform come dinner time.
For dinner that night, I was doing duck breast, a challenge for any pan: in order to render as much fat from the skin as possible, it is best to start in a cold pan. The Smithey pan is so smooth and flawless that it did a masterful job of crisping the duck skin. Broccolini is best seared in delicious animal fat and dressed in citrus and spice, which came next while the duck rested. A quick wipe of the pan, a little butter, brown off the ugly Gnocchi I’d quickly banged out before tossing it in a beet pesto, and dinner was complete! Essentially all done in a single pan that was quick and easy to clean up the next morning. I’m not too proud to admit that the dirty pan sat on my stovetop overnight and was cleaned the next day, but here we are. A little hot water, a gentle scrub, a thorough drying, and it was ready to go again. Now if only I’d opened the Pinot Noir instead of the Tempranillo!
I love this pan. In full transparency, I own a beautiful modern 12” cast iron pan and my antique 10”, but this pan could easily replace them if they weren’t the type of item that will outlast me. If you have ever wanted to cook with cast iron, I can’t recommend Smithey enough. The beautifully polished cooking surface, the classic look, and the versatility make this an essential tool for any kitchen.
A veteran of many great kitchens, Kris spent over a decade chained to stoves cranking out fine dining. After easing back into civil society by cheese-mongering he found his way to Knifewear in the summer of 2014. Kris has a soft spot for 210mm Gyutos and an affinity for the amazing Aogami Super. He believes that no kitchen is complete without at least one Koishi.
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