It's true that I found creating the non-stick patina was a quick and easy process. After following the pre-seasoning instructions to first wash with very hot water and soap and then boil a handful of potatoes in water, I quickly seasoned my pan by heating a few centimeters grapeseed oil over fairly high heat for several minutes. The non-stick patina quickly established itself and I put it to a tough first test -- scrambled eggs. I was delighted when the eggs cooked to a thick, creamy mass and then slid out of the pan as if it was teflon.
Another important test my new pan passed with flying colors was the fried egg. I was confident that my egg wouldn't stick, but how would it cook? I preheated the pan with a medium flame for a minute or so, lowered the heat slightly and added a small knob of butter which immediately sizzled. Then I cracked a cold (just from the refrigerator) egg into it. The pan evenly and completely cooked the white while leaving the yolk warm and runny. I was surprised with this as I am used to having to cover the pan to produce a perfect sunny-side up, runny-yolked egg.
But these pans aren't just for eggs! The carbon steel is a hefty 2.5 mm thick, which conducts heat beautifully and makes them perfect for searing meats and other proteins. I have yet to use an acid such as a tomato or wine in this pan, however. From what I understand, it is either not recommended (carbon steel is 99% iron) or at least not until the patina is very well established. (Has anyone had any experience with this?)
I also appreciate the pan's handle which is at a good angle for lifting, although some people don't care for it. It does get hot, so I use a pot holder or silicone sleeve.
If you've been wanting to wean yourself from Teflon and other chemical-based non-stick surfaces, then this is the pan for you.
It should be noted, however, that these pans are not for non-fat cooking. The surfaces patina does prevent sticking but some fat is needed as well. I highly recommend that you invest in the de Buyer line, season and maintain it well and you will be, like me, one very happy cook!
The de Buyer Mineral B line used to be hard to find but is now readily available from Williams-Sonoma, Sur le Table and Amazon.com.
→ Find it: DeBuyer 7.9" Mineral B Element Iron Frypan, $39.95 at Amazon
(Image: Dana Velden)