Lubin’ the Lodge

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.

My new Lodge (Lodgie? Lodgebert? The Wizard of Lodge?) settles in to its new home.

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.

About to be seasoned.

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.

Welding gloves for the kitchen (an Alton Brown tip). It's really nice to have the use of individual fingers!

– posted by Kendall
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5 responses to “Lubin’ the Lodge

  1. hey Kendall- Ive been enjoying this blog. Keep up the good work! ever make biscotti?

  2. Love the Lodge Logic, but after cleaning, I don’t rebake it with oil — I merely put a bit of grease back on with a paper towel, then wipe off the excess. It’s more than enough to keep pre-seasoned cast iron in shape.

    My mama had two 12″ cast-iron skillets and on Sunday mornings would brown a pot roast lightly in one skillet, then add cut-up carrots and potatoes, a bay leaf, peppercorns, seasoning and beef broth, cover all with the second skillet, and let it braise at 350 degrees F. for several hours while we-all went about our Sunday business. That Sunday afternoon pot roast was the highlight of my week, and it’s not the same when made in stainless steel, not even when I use the All-Clad, which I love for other purposes. Some things just demand cooking with cast iron. But I agree with you about cooking bacon in the oven: no muss, no fuss, one less thing to monitor on the stovetop. Amen!

  3. PS — you don’t need welder’s gloves for hot cast iron handles: a silicone handle cover works just fine. You can buy them all over on the Internet, but I’d check Chef’s Catalog (www.chefs.com/) first. Some folks call them ‘panhandlers’; same thing.

    • Ha, panhandlers! Funny. I think we opted for the welder’s gloves because they were pretty cheap, they smell like leather and they look so oddly/wonderfully out of place in the kitchen. Also, Alton Brown suggests them so we thought it’d be a fun thing to try out.

      Thanks for reading and for the tips! That pot roast sounds so amazing. Don’t be surprised if you see us trying that out someday. :]

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