Becka's Babble

Ramblings of a Romance Writer

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

I Frickin' LUV My Cast Iron Skillet



Ever since I was first married, I've wanted to own a cast iron skillet. I've heard such good things about them. Never bought one, though, because I was always "scared" of the care I'd have to give it, as I liked the convenience of popping my pans in the dishwasher or hand-washing the non-stick ones. This whole "oiling" nonsense was for the birds. I don't have time to baby my pan. :P

Boy, was I wrong.

After 12, almost 13 years of marriage, my DH gave me my first iron skillet this past Christmas. Lucky for me, it was pre-seasoned. Bonus, as I was still wary of the whole seasoning process. According to the directions, you need to spray it with PAM the first time you use it. Okay, did that. Then, after every use, merely wash it out with hot water and a non-abrasive, non-metal scrubber. Once it has been rinsed, you thoroughly dry it, then spray it again with PAM, let it cool, and put it away.

OMG, it's *that* easy?!?

Away I went. I ended up using the plastic scrubbers Pampered Chef gives you when you buy their stoneware. It's just a flat piece of plastic, with one pointy edge and three rounded edges. It scrapes my skillet with ease, without scratching the surface of the iron, eliminating the seasoning, or promoting rust. Using HOT HOT water softens the crusties, allowing you to scrape them away. The beauty of the cast iron is the fact that the flavor of the food stays in the metal, making every subsequent meal you cook THAT much better.

After it's scrubbed, of course I wipe it down immediately. That's one of the rules of owning cast iron. Do NOT let it sit with water droplets inside of it and NEVER NEVER NEVER soak it in water. After it's dry, on goes the PAM until it's all glisteny, then away it goes back in my cupboard. I actually prefer caring for this pan rather than caring for my others. It's so EASY, a child can do it.

And let me tell you, everything I've made with it is **drooly**. Oh yeah, this guy makes the best food evar. In an effort to get it infused with all kinds of flavors, I've been using my skillet more and more. It's only the 12 inch size, but now that I'm in love with cast iron, I want to get all kinds of sizes and shapes.

They're not even expensive! They sell them here at Fred Meyer for like $12 for a small one, $15 for a 12 incher and like $21 for a 15 inch. In fact, my brother-in-law's niece just got married recently and for her wedding gift, I bought her a cast iron skillet. If she doesn't LOVE that thing, there's something wrong with her. LOL I only wish I'd had this skillet when I'd first gotten married. It would have made all those meals on a shoe-string budget taste SO GOOD. :P

So, rules for cast iron are:

Never soak it in water.
Never wash it with soap, only hot water rinse.
Never use a harsh metallic scrub pad (like an SOS pad or copper scrubby - try to find a dedicated plastic scrubber if you can. If you get a bristled scrubber, make sure it's only used for the skillet, because if you ever soap it up for any other use, that residue could get into your iron)

Always oil your pan: peanut, canola, vegetable oils work, as well as PAM, however, do not use extra virgin olive oil. I don't exactly know why, but I've read that on a few websites.
Cook fatty, oily foods the first few times you use your skillet, like bacon, fried chicken or the like.

Believe me, you'll be so excited to use your skillet every single day, you'll want to buy more too! In fact, now that I know how to care for one, I wouldn't mind finding some rusty ones and trying to restore them. The seasoning process isn't that hard; you scrub off the rust, wash it with light soap (the ONLY time your skillet should ever see soap), then dry your skillet completely, put your "naked" skillet into a cold oven, then turn it on to 300 degrees. Once it's at 300 degrees, carefully take out your skillet, oil it with a light coating (stress the light), then put it upside down on a cookie sheet and bake in oven for one hour. For older skillets, you might have to season it two or three times. But it's really not THAT bad of a PITA. :P

It won't be long before your cast iron skillet glistens and gives you scrumdiddlyumptious meals. I actually have NOT made cornbread in mine yet (GASP! I know), but only because cornbread is loaded with carbohydrates, and since I have diabetes, it isn't that great of an idea. Perhaps one of these days I decide to "cheat", I'll make some chili and cornbread. By that time, it should be really yummy, since I've used the skillet so very much. :)

Happy cooking!

~~Becka
http://www.RebeccaGoings.com

5 Comments:

At 10:25 AM , Blogger Donica Covey said...

I've always wanted cast iron. My Granny has a whole string of them--of course in her day that was what the folks had.

I'd love to have some but so far-nada. DH buys me pots and pans for Christmas or birthdays ev ery couple of years and I'm like dear, if you had invested that money into the cast iron skillets and things we'd NEVER had to replace them.

I'm still trying.

Glad you love yours.
Huggles Babe!
Donica

 
At 6:48 PM , Blogger Rosie said...

So what you're saying is that the brand new cast iron pots and pans still carefully packed and crated in their original wooden crate and sitting in my garage for the past 7 years is a bad thing?

 
At 4:14 AM , Blogger LisaBisa said...

Cool...those sound great!

I have recently discovered the joy of cooking with good stainless pans. When used properly, there is no burning or sticking and food turns out much better than with teflon coated pans.

Maybe I need to give cast iron a whirl now too...

 
At 8:52 AM , Blogger Becka said...

Donica,

Cast iron can be expensive en masse, but if you buy one piece at a time, you won't feel like you're spending an uber amount of money on them. If I can find them locally for $20 or below for each piece, I'm sure you can too. I'd only buy the pieces you need.

Rosie, GACK, you have a whole set?!? And you have not used them?!? Yes, you should blow off the dust and at least pull out a skillet. If you like using it, then pull out another item until you feel comfortable oiling them and caring for them. Another alternative if you don't want them any more... Ship those crates to me. LOL!

Lisa, never really cooked on stainless. I'm assuming you mean those light gray pans you see cooks using in fancy restaurants? If oiled properly, cast iron has a natural non-stick surface, so you could be making your same dishes, while infusing their flavor into the metal, thus making your food even tastier. :)

At least buy a small cast iron skillet and give it a whirl.

~~Becka

 
At 5:00 PM , Anonymous Pidey said...

I'm fortunate enough to have married a scrap dealer who will bring home cast iron pans for me to love back to life and boy, do I ever. I've taken the rustiest, nastiest-looking things and now they're a smooth, sleek black thanks to a little lard and our old wood stove. The lard doesn't smoke as readily as any of the oils and the wood stove is burning anyway so I might as well make good use of all that heat!

 

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