Surprisingly nonstick, easy to clean, keep and a favorite prop in “Throw Mama from the Train” cast iron is my choice when it comes to cookware.
I have at least 6 cast iron pots and pans. Do I need six?
Does Brittney Spears need so many hair weaves?
My cast iron addiction:
The 12″ pan: (top left) Perfect for making bigger steaks, longer strips of bacon and other foods requiring a larger surface. These boogers are heavier than Las Vegas sin, but hey–what happens there stays there, due to the larger surface area.
The 10″ pan: (Top right) My go-to for 90% of my cooking, this is perfect for eggs, most bacon, and frying up pancakes and burgers.
The grill skillet: (Bottom right) 10″ across in either a square or a circle, this is stove top happiness and puts the lines in your meat. Flip at a 45 degree angle for gorgeous cross hatching like you see in those Sizzler ads.
The 8″ pan: (Bottom left) So cute, you’ll want to smack your momma, but it’s as dark as her stare if you even put those thoughts into your head. Barely big enough for anything (I can cook a couple of eggs in it or a single pancake at a time), but I found it at a thrift store, so I had to have it.
The reversible griddle/grill: This is so long and heavy, you really are smoking crack if you bought this thing thinking it would be super useful. I keep mine in the oven and use it when I have big grilling orders. Just heat the oven to 500 degrees, throw some burgers or steaks on the thing, keep your eyes peeled, and you have some sweet, charbroiled lines o livliness in your meat.
Dutch Oven: These are so big, you could store all of the botox in a Real Housewife of Orange County (almost) in it, but perfect for camping trips, especially when you really think you need a 16 quart vessel for burning a small cake in to show off at the next camp out.
When you buy cast iron, pay a little more and get the good stuff. I always buy Lodge, and maybe it’s because it’s the Swarovsky crystal of the cast iron world. You get what you pay for, and for a few dollars more, you have a pan that’s worth the dough. Less burs and heavier duty, all around, and it’s pretty readily available at most stores, online and in thrift shops by people who didn’t know you could do more with them than use them as a door stop.
Cast iron can go flawlessly from the oven to the stove top and back again (Alton Brown cooks some of his slabs of meat this way), work fine on my ceramic cooktop without damage (if it damages yours, don’t come after me), and cleans up better than you thought they might. They’re even pretty nonstick when they’re properly cleaned, heated and greased. They hold temperature extremely well and look good for years after the other pots and pans yearn for the 70s again.
To clean a cast iron skillet: Fill half way with water and bring to a boil on the stove top. Heating opens the pores. Pour out the water and wipe/scrub clean (don’t use soap). Wipe inside with oil and let cool. Voila. It’s that easy.
More to think about:
- If you’re thinking about taking the plunge, start with one, quality pan in the 10″ size.
- Do not immerse the pans in water unless you’re going to thoroughly dry the pan and season it. Rust isn’t pretty.
- Try not to use soap. Soap isn’t a deal breaker, but you’ll remove some of the pan’s seasoning.
- Give pans a few minutes to heat prior to adding eggs or pancakes, or you run a grater risk of food sticking to the surface. I usually turn on the stove to medium, add butter (or the fat for the meal), set the timer for 3-5 minutes, and walk away.
- You can place cast iron in the dishwasher, but I wouldn’t. Stay true to your tool.
- Cast iron adds iron, especially to acidic foods (tomatoes, as an example), helpful for those who tend to need more iron due to deficiencies.