Jim Baugh Outdoors 25th year anniversary and celebrating 30 years of cooking with cast iron!
As you can see Clint knows how to pack some iron. Cast iron goes back hundreds of years and America was founded by pioneers who kept their kitchenware on their backs, horses, and wagons. Back then if you were traveling two things were for sure in your arsenal, Starter or some sort of leavening, and cast iron cookware most
There are many reasons why cast iron was so popular back then and why it is so popular today. Here are just a few of my personal favorites:
- Even dispersment of heat that last longer while cooking
- Non stick seasoned surface that really works
- A go green cooking application, no need for dishwasher or dish detergent
- Heavy and durable, next to impossible to damage.
- Versatility in cooking, can be used in a diversity of culinary applications
- Works on stove top or oven
- Best tool to brown and caramelize foods
- Can be used in outside open flame pit fires as well as conventional electric
- Will not warp at all, providing more contact with heat element and more even cooking
- No Teflon surface to flake off
- Health benefits of Iron versus other possible dangerous cooking materials
- Last many lifetimes
In my book there are no negatives about using cast iron cookware, plus the fact everything taste better cooked in them. If you have ever had southern fried chicken done properly in a cast iron skillet, you would never fix it any other way again. It is a great tool.
There are some things to consider about cast iron. They are heavy, but then again they heat better and last for ever. A little bit of a trade off but not much. The other is the pan needs to be seasoned and maintained which is extremely simple to do. There are some things that can ruin your pan quickly however as long as you know what they are and abide by a few simple rules you will never have a problem.
Here are my cast iron tips from years of experience cooking with cast iron. I love cooking with cast iron because I learn just a little something more about cooking with cast iron every time I use it. The applications for cast iron skillets just seem to be endless basically because of their extreme diversity.
Here we go. How to season a pan and maintain it.
A well seasoned and maintained cast iron skillet will provide a great non stick surface and take no effort to clean up. Here is how it works for me.
When I first got my skillet over 30 years ago I decided to smoke a turkey on the grill. I had just purchased the pan and it needed seasoning so I used it as a drip pan for the turkey. For eight hours that bird coated that pan like you would not believe. Once finished I just wiped the pan down, then put it in the oven at 350 with a little addition oil. After 30 minutes the pan cooled and rested, I wiped it down with an oiled cloth and put it away.
A good storage trick is to dampen a couple paper towels with oil and lay them inside the pan unfolded. This is what I would do when I was stacking smaller multiple cast iron pans. Do you need to have a smoked turkey drip in your pan for eight hours? No you don’t. Just wipe the pan down good with oil and bake. But if you happen to be doing a turkey anyway… go for it.
Once I start cooking with the skillet I would always finish it off with a coating of oil before storage. And sometimes if I have a little bacon grease I would use that to, especially before I would be cooking. This is not different than what is done at a diner. They throw the bacon on the grill before you get there and coat the grill with grease, then start cooking. That little stainless steel pan at the back of the diner grill is actually bacon grease that is used to coat the grill throughout the day.
Ease of clean up depends on how well the pan is seasoned
Do not use steel, metal, or even a scrub brush on your pan. Anything abrasive will take off your seasoning and it usually is not necessary. If you super season your pan you should be able to simply wipe off the pan with a paper towel. If there is anything stuck to the bottom simply place some hot water in the pan and let rest for only a few minutes, then wash with a dish rag, it will come right up. (If what is sticking to the pan is flour based use cold water.) Always dry your pan with a paper towel and then wipe entire skillet with an oiled towel. It is that simple. Things to not do are use dish soap, or put the skillet in the dishwasher. Keeping your pan dry and oiled is a big key to low maintenance ease of use cast iron cookware.
I probably over season my cast iron, but that only makes for a pure non stick surface. Under seasoning is worse than over seasoning. Sometimes if I am not using my skillet (which I always leave on the stove) and walk past it, I will just give it a little love of oil wipe down. Never hurts and I always have a super non stick surface.
Why I love my cast iron skillet so much? Diversity!
If I only had one piece of cookware to use it without a doubt would be my skillet. Cast Iron skillets are sort of the one stop shop of cookware, you really don’t need much or anything else. Below are just a few of the dishes we have cooked using cast iron skillets most of which recipes are found on Jim’s Galley Blog or Jim’s Coastal Cuisine.
A picture is worth a thousand words, here are a few we love.