Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Cooking With Cast Iron

I have two cast iron skillets and I love them! I have a small one that I use mostly for making cornbread and a large one that I use for all sorts of country cooking. A good seasoned cast iron skillet will last for generations if you take care of it. The "seasoning" makes it non-stick and also makes anything you cook in it uniquely flavorful.

A new cast iron skillet is gray, but a well seasoned loved skillet is black.   How does it get that way?  Season your skillet by rubbing a thin layer of shortening or lard all over it.  Don't use liquid vegetable oil because it won't work as well and might leave the surface sticky.  Place the coated skillet upside down on the top rack  in a 350 degree oven with a cookie sheet on the rack below to catch any drips.  Bake for an hour, turn off the oven and leave the pan inside until it is cool.  This process may need to be repeated several times.  The first few times you use it, cook something high in fat like bacon. 

Keep your skillet in great shape by rinsing with water while it's still warm and scraping out any food.  Avoid using soap and definitely don't put it in the dishwasher.  Make sure that it's completely dry before you put it away.  My mother-in-law taught me the little trick of putting it on a warm burner for a few minutes after washing it to make sure all the moisture is gone.  Just don't forget about it! :)

Now you can enjoy cooking your light and fluffy homemade biscuits and fried squash in a future heirloom that you can be proud of.