Gerald, the Cast Iron Skillet

Why yes...I name my cookware, not just actually living things, like a sourdough start...why ever do you ask?

Our move is, for the most part, done, and I'm shocked again about what in my kitchen really shines when I have limited resources.  So long as I have a soup pot, and my cast iron pan, I'm ok.  I think the same held true for many of our ancestors, given the popularity, still, of dutch oven and other forms of cast iron cooking in America. 

Cheesy Hash Skillet, Craft Foods

A lot of people seem to be overwhelmed by cast iron cookware, but it's actually very simple and easy to use.  I have just a basic skillet, I'm pretty sure it's an 8 inch.  Although it was cured by the manufacturer, I used it to cook some sausages last night and realized that after a couple of years it could probably do with a recurring, just to be on the safe side.  The process is simple-- scrub the pan well with a scouring pad (no soap!), making sure to get rid of any crusty junk or spots that might be rusty.  Dry it well, then rub it with an animal-based fat, like lard or bacon grease (vegetable fat will leave the surface sticky).  Put the pan in a 250-300 F oven, take out after 15 minutes to pour out access grease, then put back in for another two hours. 

Now, how do you keep that pan seasoned?

1.  Do not use soap on your pan.  Have a special stiff scrub brush for cast iron, and use some kosher salt as an abrasive if something's really stuck.  Cast iron doesn't stick because it has a thin layer of oil which stays stuck to the iron.  Use paper towels to wipe clean or dry. 

2.  Don't store food in your cast iron, and avoid cooking very acidic things (like tomato sauce), as they will strip the seasoning.

3.  Make sure your pans are stored in a dry place, with the lids off.

It's that simple!  The way cast iron browns things like burgers or sausages really can't compare.  For me, too, it's a lot less troubling to have a pan that will release trace amounts of iron into my diet(something most women don't get enough of), rather then, for example, non-stick coating. 

Don't know what to do with cast iron?  A dutch oven can be used indoors, like a regular pot with great heat retention.  A skillet like mine provides great browning for meat, and, if properly seasoned, will not stick to eggs.  It also shines for dishes like chicken or cornbread that can go right from the stove top to the oven.  Or how about a Dutch Baby? Hash browns? Or one of those one skillet meals I mentioned from Art of Manliness back in September?
Category: 2 comments


Mary said...

Very interesting, Jess! I need to get some cast iron cookware:)

Jesse said...

You know, cast iron shows up at DI rather frequently, if you want to keep an eye on it there. It usually needs some rusty spots taken care of, possibly even with sand paper, but the underlying metal is still perfectly fine.

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