Frying in a Cast Iron Skillet
I just inherited a couple of well-seasoned cast iron skillets from my grandmother. I wanted to know if they are good for deep-frying -- i.e. if I wanted to fry tortillas in oil to make tostada shells. My sense tells me it would be fine -- beneficial to the pan in fact, since one conditions a cast iron pan by rubbing it down with oil/fat. But wanted to check with the experts before I ruined a great pan.
Well, you won't be *deep* frying in a skillet, unless you have a very unusual skillet. But shallow frying in an inch or so of oil will certainly not hurt the pan. In fact, you're spot-on about hot fat being just what it needs to maintain its seasoning.
Cast iron has a reputation for even heating, but that's even across time, not necessarily across space. It does not conduct heat very well, but does hold heat well; it takes a long time to heat up, and to cool down. Among other things, this makes it good for frying, with and without oil.
You may find you need to adjust your technique, compared with other cookware. You may find you need to preheat longer, and use slightly lower burner settings than you're used to, once the pan is hot. Or maybe not, depends.
Thanks for the quick feedback and the tips! I used the pan to fry the tortillas and it worked perfectly! The pan took a while to heat up, but held its temperature well. It's about two inches wider than an average tortilla, so I did them one at a time, but that worked perfectly for the number of tortillas I had to fry.
As for the deep frying comment -- I guess I've never actually deep-fried anything, because I assumed the term meant simply to cook something submerged in oil. In my little skillet, I probably had 3/4 of an inch of oil ;-)
The three pans I got from my grandmother are small. Of the two smallest pans, she would use one pan to fry a steak for my grandfather, and the other to fry potatoes. I think those were the only uses she put the pans to in over 60 years of cooking for him. He was the most literal "steak and potatoes" man as you could hope (fear?) to find -- almost every night that they ate at home, he would have a steak (or lamb/pork chops), fried potatoes and celery and carrot sticks on the side -- my grandmother was a nurse by training and wanted to get *SOME* vegetables in him. On her night off from cooking, when they didn't go out, he would have a bowl of beef consomme (Campbell's) and a peanut butter on white bread sandwich.
very nice story DanaB, it brought me back to when my Dad used to be set in his ways about many of the meals he made. He would always say "See this, this is the way you do it !!, not like the others you see" most times he was right but very set it his ways. His beef stew was to die for and needless to say, I watched every time he made it.
What a great story! It's nice to hear about cast iron that gets handed down to someone who loves it instead of winding up in a yard sale. Enjoy!