Home Tech Kuhn Rikon’s Swiss-made cast iron skillet is smooth and sustainable

Kuhn Rikon’s Swiss-made cast iron skillet is smooth and sustainable

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Kuhn Rikon's Swiss-made cast iron skillet is smooth and sustainable

It’s a niche interest, but I’m always curious about people’s relationship with their pans, particularly the weight. Some people like or don’t mind them being heavy, and others need them to be light. Recently, I was drawn to a heavy Kuhn Rikon speaker and parked it on the right rear burner of my stove while trying to figure out where to store the pan before realizing it was already in the perfect spot.

The frying pan in question is from the Swiss manufacturer. Black Star, a 9-pound skillet about the size I tested, with a 9-inch cooking surface and 12 inches from edge to edge. It’s functional and attractive, and weighs just over 9 pounds, even compared to the competition. For $250, it also costs a lot, especially when compared to something like a classic Lodge cast iron skilletwhich weighs about a pound less and costs a mere fraction of the import.

Smooth operator

I should say here that while I love cooking with cast iron skillets, including my Lodge skillet, I don’t treat them as fetish objects. Their seasoning level ebbs and flows, but I rarely have problems with them sticking. I wash them with soap and water, which often scares those fetish people. At least they can relax knowing that I’m not an animal that runs mine through the dishwasher.

For example, some skillet manufacturers recommend a settling process, in which salted potato peels are cooked in oil that has a high smoke point. This removes a layer of corrosion protection and begins to cure the bottom of the pan, and then you’re on your way.

I didnot do that. A key difference between Lodge and Kuhn Rikon is the Black Star’s incredibly smooth cooking surface. I’ve read that with use, the bumpier surface of classic Lodge pans hardens enough that there is little difference between their nonstick character and that of the softest models. That said, softer always seems cleaner and more luxurious to me, and the Black Star was softer on the day of arrival than my Lodge was after years. Right out of the box, I placed it on a burner and scanned the surface with a thermal camera. Everything looked nice and even as the pan heated, with no noticeable hot or cold spots.

One change from what I’m used to was using a model with two auxiliary handles, Dutch oven style, instead of the more classic cast iron skillet style with one auxiliary handle and a “regular” handle. This freed up some space on the stove and made it tidier. Once I got used to it, I didn’t miss it. (Anyway, at this size and weight, the regular Lodge handle isn’t very useful.) I came to enjoy the flared side walls of the Kuhn Rikon, which made it a little easier to access or flip the contents of the pan with a spatula. They also gave him some sort of extra cooking surface where he could tip the food; a bit of a cheat, but not an option at all with a more vertical wall.

Better practices

Leaving a frying pan on the stove even when it’s not in use has probably been a habit since the invention of frying pans, stoves, and laziness, but doing so with this attractive, high-performance frying pan had one big side effect, which is that I cooked further.

On my induction cooktop, the frying pan, which also comes in a slightly smaller size, it handled the way all induction cooktops there seem to me, like a sports car or a precision instrument: quick to heat up, stable and predictable. The combination works so well that it almost seems futuristic. The only improvement I can think of has to do with the stove, not the pans. It would be nice if the burners reached to the edge of such large pans.

Something I enjoyed noticing was how little I used my traditional nonstick pans while I had this one for months of testing. With that smooth bottom and a dash of butter or oil, I didn’t really need a nonstick. Yes, there are recipes in which non-stick is the best option, but not so many, and that industry is in crisis. Teflon is out of place and ceramic tends not to work as well and wears out quickly. At Kuhn Rikon, if the mixture (or anything) I was cooking was a little sticky, I could lean on my thin-bladed metal spatula and scrape the bottom without worrying about damaging the surface. Easy, PFAS-free.

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