In my opinion, if you have a couple different sizes of cast iron skillets, you'll be set in the skillet department. In our house, we cook everything in our two skillets. We sauté vegetables and meat, we scramble and fry eggs, we stir fry, we make sauces, pancakes, french toast, curries, burgers, frittatas, bake cakes (like this Upside Down Pear Gingerbread Cake), and on and on. Right now at The Chopping Block, a new Lodge brand pre-seasoned 12" skillet is $36.95.
Here's why I love cast iron skillets:
- Cast iron retains heat well and distributes it evenly, meaning there are no hot or cold spots in your pan.
- It's super durable and can literally last forever if you care for it properly.
- It’s oven proof.
- Caring for it is simple.
- It’s inexpensive.
- It’s versatile and can be used to make breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert!
- You can use it your whole life and pass it on to your children.
One of the chefs at The Chopping Block swears by cooking steaks on a cast iron pan (instead of a grill) because of the consistent heat and the searing over the entire surface of the steak. Another chef said you know a good pan when you can kill someone by hitting them over the head with it. Cast iron definitely fits the bill!
For those of you who are intimidated by the process of keeping cast iron well seasoned, fear not. You can do it. Here's the definition of seasoning from Lodge's website:
"Seasoning” is vegetable oil baked onto the iron at a high temperature: not a chemical non-stick coating. Seasoning creates the natural, easy-release properties. The more you cook, the better it gets. Because you create, maintain, and even repair the “seasoning”, your cookware can last 100 years or more. Chemical non-stick coating cannot be repaired, limiting lifespan.”
New cast iron pans come pre-seasoned, so all you need to do is maintain it. Here's a helpful video from Lodge:
All you do is run water over the pan and use a brush or scrubber to scrub it clean. Then put the wet pan on the stove and turn on the heat to dry it out. The heat kills any bacteria. Then pour a little vegetable oil in the pan and use a paper towel to rub it all over the inside and outside. As it cools the oil will seep into the pan and keep it nice and seasoned. The more you do this, the more non-stick it will become. I only rub oil onto it every once in a while.
What's your favorite dish to cook in cast iron?