I would never consider a kitchen complete without a huge honkin' cast iron pan. In fact, I own two of them. I've had them for over 25 years...so long that the company that made them, Wagner, is no longer in business. Fortunately, a company named Lodge is still around and turning out great cast iron pans.
The beauty of a cast iron pan is it's ability to hold heat. Once you've cranked the flame up to high and let the pan heat up, this pan will hold the heat no matter how cold a piece of meat you throw on it. This makes cast iron pans perfect for searing meat. It's my pan of choice for searing steaks (http://terrygruggen.blogspot.com/2010/10/pan-seared-filet-mignon.html) and seafood (http://terrygruggen.blogspot.com/2011/05/pan-seared-scallops.html).
Cast iron pans just get better with time. The cast iron will become totally non-stick within your first several uses. For cleaning, you just hose them down with water and wipe them clean....do not use soap or abrasives.
I recommend that you buy a big one...both of mine are 13 1/4" and tip the scales at 9 1/2 pounds each. Amazon sells this size pan (pre-seasoned, no less) for just $31.99: (http://www.amazon.com/Lodge-L10SK3-12-Inch-Pre-Seasoned-Skillet/dp/B00006JSUB/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1324161564&sr=8-1). And check out the 700+ reviews while you are there!
Cast iron pans never wear out, so if you find one you like at a garage sale or on e-bay, grab it. Doesn't matter if it's rusty and old....you can restore it to perfect condition with only about 30 minutes of work. And if you happen to find a Wagner or a Griswold, do not let it go! They are worth big bucks in the collector market.