Victoria 12" Cast Iron Skillet Review

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Well, during a thread discussion last month on workmanship that was centered on cast iron cookware I mentioned that I had ordered a Victoria 12" skillet and would report back when it had had some use. Victoria cast iron cookware has been made in Medellin, Columbia since 1939. I stumbled on them while looking to see what a reasonably priced alternative might be to Lodge for a 12" skillet as, even with a lot of CI cookware ranging to truly large camp ovens and griddles, I didn't have a 12" skillet.

Victoria seasons it's cast iron with multiple coats of flax seed oil at high temperature which is fine by me as that's what I do. I've never had any of the issues some folks claim for flax seed oil and have found it better for my purposes than anything else I've tried but your mileage may vary....

The skillet came with a cardboard wrapper that had full use, cleaning and seasoning instructions on the reverse side. The finish seems to be a finely bead blasted finish that is less rough than current Lodge products and the seasoning was very uniform in color and evenly applied to all surfaces with none of the thick spots or barely covered spots as seen on some Lodge pieces.

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As a side note, the proliferation of rough(ish) surfaces on modern cookware seems to lie at the intersection of the high cost of skilled manual labor and the market's desire for ready to cook "per-seasoned" cookware. The simple reality is that seasoning adheres better to a slightly rough surface and that fact combined with consumers mesmerized by the lowest possible price got us to where we are now. And it's worth remembering that folks like Griswold and Wagner had rougher non-polished cookware, some of it either without their name or privately labeled for other retailers so there's a lot of "rough" old Cast iron out there too.

The Victoria skillet's handle is longer and wider than a Lodge handle which fills my hand better and it has the curved up-swept profile of professional cookware designed to get your hand further from high output burners and give you a better leverage angle for handling the skillet. All of which is a good thing as the skillet weighs 7 pounds 11 ounces (3.5 kg) empty.

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Comparing the weight of cast iron cookware is often a game of approximations as both old and new cookware can vary a fair bit one piece to the next but the average of several review's weights for a current Lodge 12" skillet show them to be a bit heavier but not so much as to be really meaningful.

Now to the reason for trying the Victoria skillet out; how does it cook. Right out of the box I decided to take the claims of per-seasoning at face value and went right to frying a few sunny side up eggs with just a few drops of oil wiped in the pan. They didn't slide right onto the plate with a gentle shake of the pan as my older skillets do and they had to be coaxed free with a spatula. Not perfect but not bad for a new pan either. A few more morning runs with bulk breakfast sausage and eggs etc all went fine but, with just two of us, a 12" skillet doesn't get used too much.

Yesterday, Valentines Day, holds another place in our lives as it is also our wedding anniversary so I decided to step up and begin the day with a Dutch Baby pancake for breakfast (complete with a sauce made from defrosted wild blueberries) and ended the day with a homemade double chocolate cake with a dark chocolate frosting. The Victoria skillet got used for the Dutch Baby and did a great job.

After brushing it with oil and preheating it in a 450F oven (230C) Nancy spent the next 20 minutes peeking through the wall oven window as the popover style batter did it's puffy magic. And the result..... Beautiful crisp crust, light airy center and that rich eggy bottom texture of an overgrown popover. What's not to love?

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And after a swipe with a paper towel the skillet was ready to hang back up. The finish, as you would expect, is getting darker and slicker with each use. The line around the rim that almost looks like a groove is from shadows caused by the six can lights over the kitchen island. The skillet's bottom is one uniform slab of slick black iron



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Overall it is a darn good pan and a darn good value. The finish, the comfort of the handle and the quality of the seasoning beat the Lodge hands down. The current Amazon price is down to $19.99 with free Prime shipping for either the 10" or 12"" Victoria skillets. As at least four of our six kids cook with cast iron I suspect that a some of our kids will be getting these as presents. I give the 12" Victoria skillet a solid five forks up!


Now as this is a canoe tripping site I'll add that if long portages are in order this skillet, or any other 12" cast iron skillet is likely not going on my packing list. But for base camp style tripping or short carries with a larger group than just we two it could very well make the list. Meanwhile I'll likely stick to a 10" skillet for most trips.

So enough rambling for now. I see that our red-tick coonhound, Rosie the Wonder-Hound is laying on her side looking at me with a tennis ball in her mouth. Her tail thumps softly each time I look up so I have to go now and enjoy the sunshine with her....

Best regards to all and happy cooking to all, too.


Lance
 
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Lance

Thanks for that great review. I have been looking to replace our old skillet, you may have tipped the scale towards a Victoria 10"

PS Give Rosie a pat on the head for me.
 
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Thanks, very informative, my wife claims my old cold handles pans are too rough for her glass topped electric stove so I just ordered one of these (12”).
Nice review.
 
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Robin, I think you'll be happy with it.

Speaking of cold handle pans, I have two 11" cold handle skillets in a lye bath along with an old deep chicken fryer style cast iron skillet and an older Lodge rectangular griddle right now. Once they come out of the lye I'll likely plunk them in an electrolysis tank I have set up to get rid of a wee bit of surface rust and season them.

They are thin enough that I'll need some practice using them over a fire but one of them will likely become my paddling skillet when weight is a high priority. I taught outdoor cooking for years and have had a lot of practice using cast iron and heavier carbon steel pans around fires but this will be my first use of thin pans for anything other than backpacking style cooksets when backpacking. It'll be interesting to see if there is a big difference in the amount of coals needed as opposed to cast iron.

Thank you for all that you've done for the site.


Best regards to all,


Lance
 
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Not to good, every thing I cooked stuck to the surface. I do better with my cold handle. Look at the picture I posted last night on the “stir crazy” thread, you can see the cast iron frying pan hanging behind the wood stove.

I sometimes cook onions, mushrooms and venison out there so I’ll use it for that.

This is not the first time I failed with cast iron, just not my thing I guess.
 
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The big secret with cast iron is you need to have patience- let it heat up to temp before adding your fat (oil, butter, etc.) and subsequent food to cook. The food will release when it’s ready, so trying to flip things prematurely will only end in disappointment.

Also heat- I almost never need a setting over medium heat on my stovetop. And especially with vintage or otherwise thin CI, you don’t want to heat the pan too aggressively, that can cause warping. Some folks preheat vintage/thin CI in the oven before putting them on stovetop. Cast iron works wonderfully with induction, but you need to be really careful with heat on an induction range.

My best egg pan is a large logo no. 9 Griswold with a heat ring. Works great on induction. The ring doesn’t hinder performance at all. Stellar release and slickness!
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My favorite daily driver is a Field No. 10. Family of 6 needs the bigger pan (as opposed to the “standard” no. 8 aka 10”). I’m still building seasoning on this one, and sometimes the recipe strips some off. It’ll build over time and use. It’s light like the fine vintage skillets and has the most comfortable handle of any CI skillet I’ve used.
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I have a Smithey 12” that is way heavy and overly polished which I believe has resulted in difficult seasoning building. I tend to reserve this one for deep frying things as it’s thickness helps retain heat. Using it for any dish that has a high moisture content seems to boil the seasoning off. I may one day strip the seasoning and use 50/50 vinegar solution to etch the interior to promote seasoning retention.
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I got a new Lodge square griddle for my mom for Christmas this past season, but we ended up not traveling up to visit and it was cheaper to buy and ship her a new one from the Walmarts than to ship her the one I’d already purchased. After one test drive with it, I am sanding down the cook surface with a palm sander. It had bumps tall enough to stop a spatula. It’ll be much better when I’m done cleaning it up. I also deburred the flash from the mold seam lines with a sanding wheel on my dremel tool.
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My journey in CI began in earnest during the covid lockdowns. As luck would have it our 12-yo Kenmore glass too electric range died rather spectacularly. “WHUMP-FLASH” while using the big element. Not being sound of mind I reset the breaker and activated the same element. Repeat WHUMP-FLASH. This time resetting the breaker did not restore life to the range. It was DRT. Now a smarter or less distracted person might have reset the breaker and used a different element, removing the knob for the defective one, and thus preserving the family’s ability to cook while researching repair or replace. But not me, man I turned it up to 11 and blew the whole thing. To be honest, we never really liked that range. The temperature differential was off on the oven so you either had to set the temp higher or cook everything longer. We adapted, but we didn’t like it. While the neighborhood has been in a state of “about to get gas” for years, we needed a replacement now, and having to run gas from the street to the house AND buy a range all at once was going to get costly. Also covid, and all the uncertainty it brought. We researched and chose a dual-oven induction range. We cook at home a lot, and ever since my wife was pregnant with the first set of twins, and then occupied nursing them, I’ve been the primary chef.

So that was a long story to tell you the short version - all our combined college-era Revere ware pans did not work on induction! One Calphalon nonstick pan and all the cast iron did. So while we researched new cookware, I learned how to cook on CI. And loved it. We slowly bought stainless, a combination of All Clad stockpots and one skillet, and Demeyer saucepans. But the 6-qt enameled Dutch oven and my no. 10 Field are my go-to meal makers.
 
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