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cast iron skillet

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SpongeBobSquarePegs Jan 14, 2005 10:37 AM

I've always been interested in owning one but not quite sure if I'd use it all that much. So I'm wondering what do you use yours mostly for?

I see a lot of pre-seasoned ones for sale. With these do you have to continue to season it?

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  1. b
    babcock Jan 14, 2005 10:57 AM

    I use mine more than any other pan I own. It's great for eggs, quesadillas, grilled cheese, or anything that you want a good crust on. It's also fantastic for searing meats, and you can stick it right in the oven to finish.

    Sorry I don't know about pre-seasoned ones. I just be sure to wipe mine with oil after use, and it stays good. And don't use soap on it.

    1. e
      elmomonster Jan 14, 2005 11:00 AM

      I use mine more than I use any other pan. It retains heat so well which promotes even cooking, no matter where the food happens to lie in the skillet.

      I cook my steaks, fish, sautee veggies, roast potatoes in the oven, you name it...anytime I want nice caramelization or constant heat.

      As for seasoning, it's really not a big deal, especially if you have an outdoor grill or range - You normally would do it in an oven the first time around. If you want to season less often (usually pans re-season themselves while you are cooking), just be sure to coat with a thin film of oil after you clean. BTW, I avoid cleaning with any soap...just boil water in the skillet after cooking, use a wooden chopstick and a paper towel to scrub any food particles sticking to the skillet, then toss the water, wipe clean and apply a light coat of oil before storing.

      1. m
        macca Jan 14, 2005 11:05 AM

        I love mine. I have three- all different sizes. They belonged to my grandmother, and are still great!! I use them for steak, eggs, sandwiches, frying fish or chicken, home fries, corn bread, burgers. they are my favorite pans. Great to start meats on the stove, and finish in the oven. And- they really do last- more than a lifetime if cared for. Go for it!!

        1. f
          Funwithfood Jan 14, 2005 11:17 AM

          Great for a good crust on steaks. I also like it for brussel sprouts sauteed in bacon fat until brown, then finished in the oven.

          It is great for serving your food in, as it stays hot for a while.

          I have found most of my good pots at estate sales (and they come pre-seasoned! :)

          {Enamel-coated cast iron is also very good.}

          4 Replies
          1. re: Funwithfood
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            danna Jan 14, 2005 11:37 AM

            Speaking of enamel coated cast iron, I have two LC skillets. What should I do in my new/old cast iron pan that I would have previously done in the LC? How are their characteristics different?

            As for pre-seasoned, the pan I just got came from my friend's grandparent's 200 year old farmhouse. I'm sure it's been used plenty, but I'm a little concerned about just starting cooking w/ something that may have been stored in a barn for 50 years. Any suggestions as to how I can make it clean without ruining the years of seasoning?

            1. re: danna
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              Candy Jan 15, 2005 09:14 AM

              Run it through the self cleaning cycle in your oven

              1. re: danna
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                Funwithfood Jan 16, 2005 06:20 PM

                They are pretty much the same, but you cannot deglaze a cast iron pan with wine or use acidic ingredients (tomatoes, etc).

                1. re: Funwithfood
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                  JoanN Jan 17, 2005 09:37 AM

                  Why not? I deglaze with wine all the time, and my 30-year-old skillets are so well seasoned I wash them with paper towels.

            2. n
              N Tocus Jan 14, 2005 11:24 AM

              The only thing I use mine for, the thing I bought it for, and the thing I would not give it up for, is German Apple Pancake. Saute sliced apples in brown sugar, butter, and cinnamon. Whip up the batter (see online recipes galore), pour it over the hot apples, and put in a 400* oven for half an hour. It will puff up and be beautiful.

              1. s
                Sunshine Girl Jan 14, 2005 11:47 AM

                Believe it or not, my doctor recommended that I cook in a non-enameled cast iron skillet, in an attempt to boost my iron levels. Apparently, by cooking acidic things (like a tomato sauce) in a cast iron skillet, it helps boost your iron levels.

                I don't use it too much, but I thought that interesting.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Sunshine Girl
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                  foodiex2 Jan 14, 2005 11:58 AM

                  When I was in college my doctor told me the same thing. My darling big brother actually bought me one when he heard I was anemic. That was 15 years ago and I think it is the pan I use the most. I always cook my tomato sauces in it out of habit.

                  My most favorite use for it? Cornbread! You get the most wonderful golden crust and it never ever sticks!

                2. f
                  FlyFish Jan 14, 2005 11:56 AM

                  I have a few, but tend to use them only when I plan on doing something that might ruin one of my better pans, such as very high heat searing/blackening on the outdoor propane burner.

                  I tend to be a bit of a heretic when it comes to cast iron - folk "wisdom" notwithstanding, it's not a particularly good heat conductor (a bit less than plain carbon steel, less than half as good as aluminum, and only about 12% of copper), so it has to be made thick to achieve any semblance of even heating, and that makes it very unresponsive. There are times when you want that amount of heat retention, but I most often don't. I also see a huge difference in evenness of heating across the bottom of a large (12") skillet on a regular-size burner compared to copper or even something as mundane as good old aluminum-clad Farberware. As a result, I don't like to use cast iron, enameled or not, on top of the stove for long braising. It is wonderful in the oven, however.

                  That said, I think every kitchen should have a few pieces, but I tend to think of them as specialty, rather then everyday, items (the skillets, I mean - cast iron Dutch ovens or the like are very much everyday items at my house).

                  Cast iron does seem to have developed a cult-like following, so others will, I'm sure, disagree.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: FlyFish
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                    adamclyde Jan 14, 2005 04:59 PM

                    true that it isn't responsive. But that is also one of its strengths... it retains heat well, which is why it is the best thing on earth for searing...

                    I actually love my cast iron pan. Once you use it a bit, it becomes more non stick than non stick. And it isn't as finicky as nonstick in terms of the kinds of tools you use in it (metal is fine).

                    And the true test that it is easy to use is that my decidedly non cooking wife now almost exclusively uses my cast iron pan - because it is more reliably non stick for things like eggs, pancakes, etc...

                  2. b
                    bigskulls Jan 14, 2005 12:18 PM

                    Get one and see.... they aren't very expensive. I bought a small, 5 incher for $8 not too long ago.

                    I guess it depends on what type of cooking you do. The biggest drawback to cast iron that I have noticed is that, as another poster said, they must be thick to hold heat, and for that reason large ones can be very heavy. My mom has trouble lifting a large one full of food off the stove. So, if arm strength isn't your forte, and you cook in large quantities, they might make your life more difficult.

                    They are very versatile, however, you can cook almost anything in one - I've made pizza in mine plenty of times. And you can throw it in the oven, on the burner, or even on an open wood fire with no ill effects.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: bigskulls
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                      Evan Jan 14, 2005 01:53 PM

                      The cast iron skillets from Lodge have a second handle on the pans to help with lifting it.

                    2. c
                      curiousbaker Jan 14, 2005 12:21 PM

                      I don't have a lot of money to spend on pans, so I pretty much use my cast iron skillet for everything that will fit in it. In addition to panfrying meat, braising brussel sprouts, frying onions, and so on, I use it for tarte tatin, apple pancake, upside-down cake, Irish bread and corn bread. I've also used it to crush things. I got it at a yard sale for $1. I love it.

                      I also have a little 5 inch one I use sometimes for an egg, but mostly it sits around looking cute. Also yard sale, also $1.

                      There may well be better pans in the world, but not for the price.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: curiousbaker
                        c
                        Chris Jan 14, 2005 04:41 PM

                        We have a 5" too and it's great for toasting spices. Also for sauteeing small amts of onion etc.

                      2. f
                        Fatbob Jan 14, 2005 01:05 PM

                        I cannot imagine making a Frittata without an iron skillet. Or pan gravy for Pork Chops. Or Peppers and Onions. Or a Roux.

                        1. v
                          Val Jan 14, 2005 01:06 PM

                          I bought mine from an ad in the paper from folks who were getting rid of all their camping stuff; got a 10" skillet and Dutch oven with lid that also fits on the skillet, already seasoned...the Dutch oven is very heavy! She charged me $10 for both items, delightful.

                          I use the skillet for cornbread, for blackening fish, and for making dark rouxs in. The Dutch oven I use for long cooking stews, either on top of the stove or in the oven, as long as they don't have a tomato based sauce.

                          1. l
                            Leper Jan 14, 2005 02:59 PM

                            SBSP, Staub makes an enameled cast iron 11" skillet with an elegant wood handle. This is an absolutely gorgeous pan, non-stick and non-reactive. This pan will become an heirloom piece. Google Staub cookware and you'll find many resources.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Leper
                              s
                              SpongeBobSquarePegs Jan 14, 2005 03:11 PM

                              Thanks for the rec. I was reading that skillets with wood handles can't be used in the oven, is this true?

                            2. l
                              Lemmiwinks Jan 15, 2005 02:07 AM

                              I've always wondered: if you're not supposed to wash the frying pan with detergent so as to protect the seasoned surface, how clean is it? I mean, it's supposed to be non-stick and everything, but if you're frying up some fish, then making a tarte tatin afterwards, there's gotta be some residual fishiness on the pan, no? And how about issues with germs/bacteria/hygiene?

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: Lemmiwinks
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                                Candy Jan 15, 2005 09:09 AM

                                My cast iron pans are well seasoned and I've had them for years. I wash them (yeah I know gasp!!!!!!!!!!) with soap and water and dry over a flame. They are fine, and clean. The seasoning has not been compromised and the are stick free. I also run them through the self cleaning cycle in my oven once in a while when they become too crusted with crud.

                                As too wooden handles, no they should not go in the oven, but if you have to put it in the oven, wrap the wooden handle well in foil.

                                1. re: Candy
                                  c
                                  coll Jan 15, 2005 07:02 PM

                                  I always thought I was the only one that washed my cast iron with soap. What a relief to be able to say it! It would really gross me out otherwise, sorry. Just dry it good and add some oil once in a while.

                                  1. re: coll
                                    c
                                    Candy Jan 15, 2005 07:19 PM

                                    Exactly, and I have had some of mine for more than 25 years. No soap and water is a myth.

                              2. f
                                fladd Jan 15, 2005 06:40 PM

                                I wrote a newspaper article on cast iron a few years ago. (see link)

                                Link: http://almostgruntled.com/stories/foo...

                                1. d
                                  dixieday Jan 17, 2005 03:51 PM

                                  they are cheap and indestructable--get one and you'll use it more than you think. I roast chicken in mine, fry sausage, make potato pancakes, bake cornbread in it, and braise just about everything.

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