Foodie Fridays: The Wonders of Cast Iron

There is no pot or pan in the world more glorious than a cast iron skillet.  If you do not have one, you must go the store right now and get one.  Go ahead.  I’ll wait.

As you can see, I’ve got three in different shapes and sizes.

Cast-Iron-Skillet

What makes this the best cookware in the world, you ask?  Three reasons:

1. They’re cheap.  You can find old ones at yard sales for pennies.  I got at least one of mine at Costco for $20.

2.  They’re durable.  With proper care, they last forever.

3. They’re flexible.  You can heat things up on the stove, then stick them in the oven.  You can get them REALLY hot, so you can perfectly sear a steak on them.  They distribute heat evenly, so they are really good for soups or stews or other things that you would otherwise cook in a slow cooker.  You can even bake in them.  BAKE in them, for crying out loud.  Which would be awesome if I baked.

Bonus: They look pretty, especially when properly seasoned.

Now, boys and girls, do you know what “seasoning” a pan means?  Because I didn’t, for a really really long time.  And I was cooking with a pretty terrible cast iron skillet because of it.  To “season” a pan, you need to cover it with lard or Crisco, inside and out, and then put it upside down in the oven at somewhere between 300 and 500 degrees for a good hour to bake in the seasoning.  Place some tin foil underneath the pan to catch all the melty drips.

Why is this so important?  Because “seasoning” a pan gives it a non-stick surface, so everything you cook should just slide right out of it.  Like these filet mignons.  Or these chicken thighs.  YUM.

Anyone else rocking the cast iron love like I am?

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4 Responses to Foodie Fridays: The Wonders of Cast Iron

  1. caitlin says:

    They’re also great for roasting a chicken. The trick being that you pre-brown the bird upside-down on the stove top and then flip it back and pop it in the oven at high heat. For some reason preheating the pan and searing the breast makes for a delicious chicken (an Alice Waters trick here).

  2. Thank you, I have been afraid to buy cast iron because I hear they’re high maintenance. And then I hear they’re the best cookware to cook with.
    So I will get me some of those when I go second hand shopping, I see tons in the stores!

    • Sue McMahon says:

      The only high-maintenance part is the seasoning. And — another tip — be sure not to leave the cast-iron pans in water for very long (some people say not at all, but I think that’s a bit extreme). They’ll rust pretty easily. So the best way to clean them is to wipe out the detritus, do a quick soap-and-water rinse, and then dry thoroughly. You might even want to stick it in a warm oven for a little bit after washing to be sure it’s dry through-and-through. Good luck!

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