Kitchn Love Letters

The Splurgy Cast Iron Pan I Wish I’d Bought Years Ago

published Sep 3, 2021
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
grilled zucchini on a platter
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Cyd McDowell

There’s an allure to cast iron — not only for its unparalleled cooking ability, but also for its heirloom quality (it can, quite literally, be passed down from generation to generation). In my opinion, all cast iron is lovely and holds an aspirational element. However, I find Finex — made locally in Portland, Oregon (where I live) — to be absolutely exquisite. Which is the long and short of how I came to be the proud owner of a Finex Cast Iron Grill Pan.

It comes pre-seasoned, so it’s ready to use right away. I have to be honest, though: It’s so pretty, right out of the box, I couldn’t bring myself to use it. Instead, it became an elaborate (and expensive) decoration, sitting perched on my stove for nearly a month. I’d gaze upon it and imagine all the meals to come. I’d have to use it at some point, right? What would be the first food to shatter my hesitation and get me going? What would trigger the occasion?

I’ll tell you: My mom visited Portland for the first time in a year-and-a-half (hooray for vaccinations!). And, in our reunion, I finally found the inspiration I needed to break in my grill pan.

Credit: Nilina Mason-Campbell

The grill pan’s 10-inch surface is, I learned, the perfect size for cooking for two and, therefore, the ideal size for me and my mom. And I’ve been especially impressed by how well it cooks vegetables. (I am a vegetarian, but, if you’re not, a grill pan does wonders for meat, too!) We’ve made grilled Brussels sprouts, onions, and rosemary fingerling potatoes and even grilled lemons to complement fishless fillets.

And here’s the thing: This grill pan actually leaves grill marks on food. Other grills pans have shallow, less defined ridges, which means food cooks in oil (like in a standard skillet) rather than “grills.” But this is not the case with the Finex. Food truly looks like it’s come off the grill! For the deepest sear marks, I leave whatever is cooking firmly in place. But for more subtle markings, I make sure to regularly rotate whatever’s frying up.

I also love the grill pan’s coil handle (a signature part of all Finex cookware!), which is meant to stay cooler much longer than traditional cast iron cookware handles. And it works! The handle really does remain cool no matter how long the pan’s been on the burner, so I’m able to maneuver it the entire time potholder-free.

When my mom eventually leaves, I’ll absolutely be sad. But, lots of good things came out of this long-overdue visit — including hugs and a newfound love for my grill pan. And both of those things will serve me well for years and years to come.

Do you have a grill pan you love? Tell us about it in the comments!