The Mauviel M’Steel Carbon Steel Skillet
Like cast iron, carbon steel skillets are far from new in the culinary world. In fact, they’ve been a secret weapon of chefs since at least the late 19th century, but for some reason they’ve been slow to catch on with home cooks.
What makes carbon steel cookware so great is that it’s just as versatile as cast iron in that you can develop a fantastic nonstick coating through an ongoing seasoning process (rather than relying on questionable chemicals that either wear away or leech into your food), it’s oven- and broiler-safe, and you can use it on all types of cooktops (though it shines most on a gas stove).
The biggest benefit though? Carbon steel pans are, generally speaking, lighter than their cast iron counterparts. After all that tossing and tilting and swirling around, a little less strain on the wrist is a beautiful thing. You get all the benefits of cast iron with the handling of stainless steel 👌
We recommend the French-made Mauviel M’Steel pan for anyone new to this world. It’s really well made, pretty maneuverable, will patina beautifully with time and use, and it’ll make you feel like a real chef, especially when you have to go in with a towel to grab that searing hot handle.
Just keep in mind that the skillet comes shipped with a natural beeswax coating to prevent any possibility of rusting during transit, and you’ll need to remove it before ever cooking with the pan. A few years ago, Sur la Table put together a video on how to remove the beeswax coating and start your first layer of seasoning (a process you’ll likely have to repeat at least a few times, and then maintain over the years to come):
(Pro-tip: Don’t pour any melted beeswax down your drain! You don’t want that stuff hardening inside your plumbing.)
They have a handful of sizes of the M’Steel to choose from (prices are as of July 15th, 2021):
- 8-inch ($60)
- 9.5-inch ($70)
- 11-inch ($85)
- 12.5-inch ($120) — This high price was set by a third-party seller, so you might want to hold off until it changes.
- 14-inch ($100)
I’d recommend the 9.5″ or 11″ for most people.