Thursday, February 3, 2011

cast iron, my love

This cast iron skillet is the newest addition to my kitchen. I have the biggest crush on this pot. It has taken me two and a half years of steady cooking to come around to the idea that my kitchen needed a cast iron skillet.

My previous aversion to cast iron was divided into three parts:

1) People--friends--had told me that to appropriately care for a cast iron skillet, you can't wash it. No soap. No water. Ew. This is called "seasoning" the pot.

2) Cast iron is very, very heavy. And I am very, very light. I didn't want a skillet that required two arms to hoist onto the table, or anywhere.

3) Cast iron is not non-stick.

Actually, here is the truth about cast iron:

1) A seasoned pot is cool, not gross. After I received my new cast iron as a Christmas gift, my dad and I had a long talk about Grandma Culpepper's cast iron skillets. I'm following her seasoning instructions, which are as follows:

  1. preheat oven 235 degrees
  2. rub down pot with a layer of vegetable or olive oil
  3. place in oven for an hour, or as long as desired
  4. repeat every so often. I do this routinely on weekends.
I don't use soap on the pot at all, and I don't use water unless I can see no way around it. I scrape off old food with plastic scrapers, and rub off whatever is left with a dry dishcloth and grainy salt. When I do use water on the pot, I only use a damp dishcloth, no soap. Then I dry the pot immediately and slick it up with a little cooking oil.

Since I received the skillet, I've been surveying friends and family about their preferred methods for cast-iron care. My family lives sprawled out over the midwest, and everyone I talk to has a cast iron skillet and everyone has a different method they swear by.

2) Cast iron is indeed very heavy. I don't move it very much. Problem solved.

3) An appropriately seasoned cast iron skillet IS a non-stick surface.

4) Cast iron will put iron in your food--important for women, and vegetarians, and I am both.

5) Cast iron cooks food evenly.

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