I’ve been using one of my very favorite tools, the cast iron skillet, so much lately that I though it would be a good time to revisit it. I hope you are fortunate enough to have inherited a cast iron skillet from your mother or grandmother. I did and I’m so grateful. Sweet Shark and I have several sizes and each one has its special use. Nothing is better for making cornbread, fried chicken or an upside down apple pie, or pan~frying. It is my go~to skillet almost anytime I am going to sauté, sear, or stir~fry. If you don’t have a cast~iron skillet and want to know why, I have 10 reasons why you should have a cast~iron skillet. And I’ll show you how to prepare a new one and how to clean one you already have.
10 Reasons Why You Should Have a Cast Iron Skillet
Here’s some different size skillets that you may want to consider.
This 8-inch skillet was my mom’s and is perfect for a fried egg or crepes or a single serving.
This 9 1/2-inch Le Creuset cast iron skillet is perfect for 2 fried eggs, scrambled eggs, 2 chicken breasts or a filet.
This 10 1/2-inch skillet is exactly like the one that I inherited from my mom and it’s not only very special, but my most used skillet because of its versatile size.
10 Reasons Why You Should Have a Cast~Iron Skillet
First of all, a cast iron skillet is practically indestructible. You can drop it and it won’t be damaged. You don’t have to worry about scratching it or discoloring it. It’s possible that it can rust, but you can easily clean it (See below.). Cast iron skillets will take any and all abuse and still last forever. In fact, your skillet will probably outlast even you. (That’s another reason to be nice to your grandmother.)
A cast iron skillet can take heat. Very high heat ~ as in as hot as your oven can go. Want a serious sear on a steak? Cast iron is your best bet. I love my All-Clad skillets and saucepans, but you can’t put them in the oven at over 400°F. And then you’ll be scrubbing the char off for days. Cast iron? You can cook with it on an open campfire or your outdoor grill.
Cast iron skillets are nonstick if you season them correctly. (See below for how to season a new skillet.) Try a fried egg on it. Or fish or anything.
Cast iron skillets are inexpensive, not as in low quality, but because they are economical to make which makes them a great bargain, but not cheap. A new skillet, depending on size, shouldn’t cost more than $40. Not to mention that a lot of people sell perfectly good cast iron skillets at yard sales.
It’s versatile. You can cook and bake hundreds of different recipes in this one pan. You can sauté (onions -remember how here), pan fry (catfish, chicken breasts, potatoes), deep fry (fried chicken, French fries, doughnuts, hushpuppies), bake (cornbread, biscuits, apple pie), sear (steak, pork tenderloin, pork chops, lamb chops), stir-fry (vegetables, shrimp). Really, the uses are endless.
Save on Soap. Once your skillet is seasoned, it actually is better not to use soap, which can break up the tiny oil molecules that are embedded on the pan and make it not-so-nonstick. It’s also possible that the next thing you cook in it will have a slightly soapy taste. So save on the soap! If you need to scrub your cast iron pan, use salt.
It’s got some health benefits since it’s made out of iron. A little bit of mineral iron does get transferred into food during cooking. Because a seasoned cast iron skillet is naturally non-stick, you avoid the chemicals in commercially produced non-stick skillets that contain PFCs that are released during cooking. Those have been linked to some pretty bad health issues.
Since a cast~iron skillet develops a “patina” over time and becomes a non~stick surface, you’ll use less oil than a stainless or aluminum skillet.
It’s great at heat distribution. This is may be one of the most important reasons you should use a cast~iron skillet. It is the best material for even distribution of heat. Ever wonder why food gets done on one side and not the other? Some pans have hot spots so half of your food is burned and the other half raw. You’ll never have this problem with cast iron.
A cast~iron skillet will last forever. Unless you allow it to rust (which can be fixed) by leaving it out with moisture in it, melt it in your furnace (we don’t have furnaces), or throw it under the proverbial bus, you can’t ruin or destroy a cast~iron skillet.
The most popular brand is Lodge, which has been making cast iron skillet forever.
How to Prepare a New Cast~Iron Skillet
Many cooks seem a little hesitant about cast iron ~ not the cooking, but the care of the skillet. So here is the definitive method, straight from Lodge Manufacturing Co., the best seller of cast iron, to prepare new cookware.