Category: Foodie Fodder, Tools & Gadgets

cast iron skillet

Sometimes something old becomes new again. And for good reason! Such is the reality of cast iron skillets … a reliable piece of cookware that actually dates back to ancient China and is once again gaining in popularity.

In the realm of culinary tools, the iron skillet reigns supreme as a versatile kitchen workhorse. From searing steaks to baking cornbread, this timeless piece of cookware offers a plethora of benefits that elevate both the cooking experience and the flavors of your dishes. Thus, we thought we’d take a brief look at some great benefits that iron skillets offer, how to care for them, and five great dishes you can prepare in them.

The Benefits of Cooking with an Iron Skillet

  1. Excellent Heat Retention: Iron skillets excel at retaining heat, ensuring even cooking and a beautifully caramelized crust on meats and vegetables alike. This feature allows for precise temperature control, crucial for achieving culinary perfection.
  2. Non-Stick Properties: When properly seasoned, iron skillets develop a natural non-stick surface that rivals even the most high-end non-stick pans. This means less oil is needed for cooking, promoting healthier meal preparation and effortless cleanup.
  3. Versatility: From stovetop to oven, an iron skillet seamlessly transitions between cooking methods, making it ideal for a wide range of recipes. Whether you’re frying, sautéing, baking, or even broiling, this trusty kitchen companion can handle it all.
  4. Durability: Built to last for generations, iron skillets are virtually indestructible when cared for properly. Unlike their non-stick counterparts, which can wear out over time, an iron skillet only improves with age, developing a rich patina that enhances its cooking performance.
  5. Nutritional Benefits: Cooking in an iron skillet can fortify your meals with a small amount of dietary iron, particularly beneficial for individuals prone to iron deficiency. This subtle but significant nutritional boost adds another layer of value to your culinary creations.

Caring for a Cast Iron Skillet

  1. Seasoning: This is the process of treating the surface of the skillet with oil to create a natural non-stick coating and prevent rust. To season, coat the skillet with a thin layer of oil (vegetable oil, flaxseed oil, or even lard), then heat it in the oven upside down at around 375°F (190°C) for about an hour. Repeat this process a few times to build up a good seasoning layer.
  2. Cleaning: Avoid using soap, as it can strip away the seasoning. Instead, rinse the skillet with hot water and use a stiff brush or sponge to scrub off any food particles. If needed, you can use a small amount of mild soap, but be sure to rinse thoroughly and dry immediately. Avoid soaking the skillet, as prolonged exposure to water can lead to rust.
  3. Drying: After cleaning, make sure to dry the skillet completely to prevent rust. You can place it on the stove over low heat for a few minutes to ensure all moisture evaporates.
  4. Re-seasoning: If you notice any areas where the seasoning has worn off or if the skillet starts to look dull, you can re-season it by applying a thin layer of oil and heating it in the oven as described above.
  5. Storing: Store your cast iron skillet in a dry place. You can stack them, but it’s a good idea to place a paper towel or cloth between them to prevent scratches.

With proper care, your cast iron skillet can last for generations and become even better with time as the seasoning develops.

Chef Nick Apone, Director of Culinary Development at Nino Salvaggio International Marketplace, provides this insider tip:

“I do very much enjoy cooking with iron skillets, over the years I found them to be less than convenient however until I stumbled upon a US Iron works company, Smithey Ironware, their pans are very high quality, there process of polishing the inside of the pans make the cooking process much more enjoyable with less sticking, cleaning and storing. Smithey is Premium Cast Iron Carbon Steel Cookware that can be passed on for generations.”

And here’s five great dishes that Chef Nick suggests you give a try ….

Top 5 Dishes to Make in an Iron Skillet

  1. Cast Iron Skillet Steak:
    • Season a thick-cut steak with salt, pepper, and your favorite spices.
    • Preheat your iron skillet until it’s smoking hot.
    • Sear the steak for a few minutes on each side until a crust forms.
    • Finish in the oven until desired doneness is achieved.
    • Let it rest, then slice and serve.
  2. Skillet Cornbread:
    • Preheat your oven and iron skillet with a bit of butter or oil.
    • Mix cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt, eggs, milk, and a touch of honey. Add jalapeños if you prefer a little kick.
    • Pour the batter into the hot skillet and bake until golden brown.
    • Serve warm with butter and honey for a comforting treat. cast iron skillet with cornbread
  3. One-Pan Chicken and Vegetables:
    • Season chicken thighs with herbs, salt, and pepper.
    • Brown the chicken in the skillet, then remove and set aside.
    • Sauté vegetables like carrots, potatoes, and onions until tender.
    • Return the chicken to the skillet and finish cooking everything together.
    • Enjoy a hearty, flavorful meal with minimal cleanup.
  4. Cast Iron Skillet Pizza:
    • Roll out pizza dough and place it in the preheated skillet.
    • Top with sauce, cheese, and your favorite toppings.
    • Cook on the stovetop until the crust is golden, then transfer to the oven to melt the cheese.
    • Slice and savor your homemade pizza masterpiece.
  5. Dutch Baby Pancake:
    • Whisk together eggs, flour, milk, and sugar until smooth.
    • Melt butter in the skillet, then pour in the batter.
    • Bake until puffed and golden, then top with fresh fruit, powdered sugar, or maple syrup.
    • Delight in this fluffy, oven-baked pancake for a memorable breakfast or brunch.

Dutch baby pancake in a cast iron skillet

The iron skillet is more than just a piece of cookware—it’s a culinary essential that enhances the flavor, texture, and overall enjoyment of your meals. From its exceptional heat retention to its unmatched versatility, this timeless kitchen staple continues to earn its rightful place in home kitchens around the world. So dust off your iron skillet, unleash your culinary creativity, and embark on a flavorful journey that’s sure to satisfy both your palate and your soul.


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