I’m in a committed relationship with my cast iron skillet. We’ve been together longer than my husband and I have. My skillet never lets me down, is incredibly versatile, and will grow old with me if I take care of her (not dissimilar from my husband). If you told me today that I could only have one item in my kitchen to cook with for the rest of my life, it would be my 10-inch cast iron skillet.
I haven’t been shy about my love of cast iron, and every time I write about my cast iron cookware, I get lots of requests for a primer on how to cook with cast iron. People are scared of it! And I’m here today to tell you that the water is fine. Come on in and fall in love with cast iron cookware.
I think folks are intimidated by cooking with cast iron because they believe there are so many “rules” that you have to follow to keep from ruining your skillet. THIS IS COMPLETELY FALSE. There are things that you should avoid doing to keep your skillet in top shape, but the glorious thing about cast iron cookware is that it can come back from almost anything. Literally, people have found rusted cast iron skillets in landfills before, sandblasted them clean (seriously), seasoned them, and happily used them to make their eggs the next morning. You are not going to ruin your skillet. I promise.
Anywho, I’m here to make you feel comfortable with cast iron. We’re going to cover both unenameled (the regular black skillets you are used to) and enameled cast iron (like the fancy colorful Dutch ovens you see).
If you don’t have time to (or don’t want to) read 5,000 words about skillets, then here is the long and short of it:
- Cooking with cast iron rocks because you (eventually) get a chemical-free, non-stick surface on a über versatile piece of cookware. You can do everything you want to do in your kitchen with one (maybe two) pieces of cast iron.
- Cleaning cast iron cookware takes all of 30 seconds, and if you take care of it, cast iron never needs to be “seasoned,” and will last for generations.
- Heirloom quality cast iron cookware isn’t expensive. You can start with the piece I recommend (a 10-inch skillet from Lodge) for less than $20 new—and much cheaper if you find it at an antique store or flea market—and it’ll be around longer than you will.