I’ve been reading Cook’s Illustrated for over a decade. It’s the longest running subscription I’ve ever had. If you are a cook, it’s an invaluable tool for reviews and recipes. I trust nearly all their recommendations. That is where I discovered Blu Skillet Ironware.
Blu Skillet Ironware is a small 2 person operation in the neighborhood of Ballard in Seattle, WA. They hand make carbon steel fry pans. Before reading this article I didn’t know what Carbon Steel was. I do now. Carbon Steel has the qualities of cast iron (without the weight) and non-stick cookware without any coating. It’s magic.
Cook’s Illustrated rated it the best fry pan.
This costly, beautifully designed pan is a hand-forged piece of art, but it’s also built to work hard. It arrived preseasoned, with the metal heat-treated to a lovely shade of slate blue, though it darkened with use. With its broad cooking surface, nicely flared sides, and perfect browning and release, it was a pleasure to use. Our only quibble (besides price): It’s heavy. The large helper handle is a useful addition.
Here is a description from their website on the qualities of carbon steel
Blue steel pans are great for searing and caramelizing - and they make fantastic over-easy eggs! They’re iron pans, but forged rather than cast. This makes the pans lighter and easier to handle, as well as less porous and quicker to season. They can take high temperatures and they can go from stove top, to oven, to table - where they make a beautiful addition! The blue color is a product of heat treatment, which forms a protective layer of blue iron oxide on polished steel. It is a natural rust deterrent, and combined with organic virgin coconut oil, provides an excellent preseasoned surface - making the pans nonstick and ready to use. They’re iron pans and therefore reactive, so they won’t stay blue - they’ll darken and patina as you cook and season them, and their polished finish will continue to contribute to an easily maintained nonstick surface.
My wife has been asking me to figure out a replacement strategy for our 2 non-stick fry pans from All-Clad (we’ve had since we were married). We mainly use them for cooking eggs, potatoes and veggies. But we’ve been concerned about non-stick coatings for a while. Another reason we recently parted with our non-stick rice cooker for a stainless steel model. When I read this article, I was intrigued. Finally something promising, and also a local company!
Upon visiting the Blu Skillet Ironware website I was greeted with this humorous warning.
You might already know there's a review of our 13" Fry pan in the Sept/Oct issue of Cook's Illustrated...hooray! And they liked it...hooray! We're really blown away by the response - thank you!
And on to the 'uh oh'... We're a couple of artists/craftsmen making small batch pans, as well as handling all the day to day operations of a studio and small business. We're currently experiencing an extremely high volume of orders, phone calls and emails, which is why we're unable to process orders over the phone - the online store helps us streamline the ordering process immensely!
A few notes about the online store:
We had over 350 people on the website placing orders when the weekly post went live, and we sold out of a large batch of pans very quickly - it was unbelievable! So we will be introducing a backorder option of 100 - 13" fry pans with a processing time of 12 weeks next Wednesday on top of our weekly post.
Wow! So I better get on this. I saw that in 9 days they were going to take orders again, so I set my alarm and was able to order 2 fry pans, the 13 inch and 9 inch. They sold out in 3 minutes. I arranged to pick up my pans in person and check out the shop. It turns out that they give tours on Sundays from 1-4 and you can see how the pans are made. Exciting! A destination shopping event!
A few weeks later, like clock work, Lora and I headed down to view the workshop and get our pans. We had a fantastic time, spending about an hour there learning the process and spending time with Patrick & Caryn.
Below are some photos of that experience.
So, how do they cook? Well pretty darned amazing
These pans are all that I hoped and imagined they would be.
If you want to get your hands on some pans, well it looks like you’ll have to wait till Feb 2016! I would recommend signing up for their newsletter to get some updates. Also, if you are local in Seattle, looks like they will be having a holiday event where you can get some pans.
If you are a chef, or know a chef, I guarantee this will make a special gift that will last a lifetime.
This is an incredibly made product, produced by 2 people who care about their art and want to share it with as many people as possible.
★★★★★ Exceptional. A spectacular product.