So much about cooking is intimidating—feeling like you don’t know enough to do something can be paralyzing. Sometimes you just have to dive in and see what happens.
I’m not sure exactly why I wanted to buy an iron skillet. It comes up sometimes in recipes or on cooking shows but it’s probably not the most essential piece of equipment missing from our kitchen. It is relatively cheap though ($18.99 at Target) and there’s something intriguing and mysterious about cooking with a solid hunk of iron that’s been formed in a sand mold. It makes me think of camping (even though I’ve never experienced the use of one while camping) and it’s a living link to the culinary past.
So that brings me back to the intimidation factor. I knew that owning cast iron involved “seasoning”, it’s own set of cleaning rules and probably a whole slew of other specialized concerns when cooking with it. When I searched the internet for advice on these topics I was overwhelmed with (sometimes conflicting) advice but one constant was that people loved their cast iron skillets. The most popular brand was Lodge—they’ve been making cast iron cookware since “the first presidential term of William McKinley”—so that’s what I decided to get. A quick trip to Target later I am the proud owner of a 12” Lodge Logic Skillet.
So then I had to decide about “seasoning”. Lodge claims that their new skillets are pre-seasoned and ready to use but online advice led me to believe that additional season would only help matters so I decided to give it a shot. Seasoning refers to the process of heating some sort of oil into the surface of the iron to fill in all the tiny little imperfections, resulting in a magical, smooth cooking surface. Here’s what I did:
SEASONING THE CAST IRON SKILLET
1. Cover the entire surface of the skillet (both sides, handle, everything) with a thin layer of Crisco.
2. Place the skillet open side down in a 350˚ oven with a baking sheet below to collect any drippings.
3. Wait 30 minutes.
4. Turn off oven and allow skillet to cool inside the oven.
5. Remove from the oven when cool and wipe off any excess oil with a paper towel.
That all seemed to work okay. There seem to be a lot of rules for using cast iron. Lodge has some posted here: Use & Care. That’s basically what I’m planning to do. I’ll follow up in the future with how it’s working out.
UPDATE: Okay, so I’m adding this update before even posting the original but you won’t know that unless I tell you…
Anyway, I’ve cooked with the Lodge twice since seasoning it. Both times were for chicken (because that’s what we have) and both times have been awesome. The first time we seared chicken breasts on the stove top and then added a bunch of vegetables, covered with foil and moved the skillet to the oven to finish cooking (one of the awesome things about cooking with cast iron is that you can move easily from stove top to oven).
The second time we made chicken that had been tenderized and rubbed with spices. Since the chicken was on the thin side it cooked to temperature pretty quickly and didn’t need to be finished in the oven.
In both cases there weren’t any issues of sticking, cleanup was simple (I rub it with kosher salt and paper towels before rinsing with warm water, then apply a thin layer of oil, heat, cool and store), I got to wear welding gloves (that handle gets HOT) and it was fun. I recommend it. I’m sure you’ll be seeing more of it here on this blog.