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What else besides meat is heavenly in the cast-iron skillet?

agarose2000 Sep 14, 2008 11:24 AM

I've become an absolute convert to the cast-iron skillet for all things meat-related. It's really shocking to experience how much easier , consistent, and flavorful meat cooked in the cast-iron skillet tastes compared to thin non-stick pans.

I was wondering if I'm missing out on any other foods that are commonly cooked in the cast-iron skillet and come out particularly heavenly compared to being cooked in a non-stick pan - besides meat.

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  1. chowser RE: agarose2000 Sep 14, 2008 12:01 PM

    Have you tried cornbread or pineapple upside down cake (or anything along those lines like fruit crisp/cobblers)?

    4 Replies
    1. re: chowser
      Vetter RE: chowser Sep 20, 2008 07:11 PM

      Oh, yeah. Both of those are immeasurably improved in cast iron.

      Deborah Madison's buttermilk corn bread recipe is the best breakfast in the world made in a 12 inch skillet with plenty of butter and honey at the ready.

      1. re: Vetter
        dani_k RE: Vetter Sep 25, 2008 08:23 PM

        oh, yes! and preheating the skillet in the oven before pouring in the batter...such a nice sizzle and crust!

        1. re: dani_k
          aquinnahsun RE: dani_k Nov 4, 2008 02:58 AM

          I make my Dutch Baby that way, using my big old Lodge cast iron skillet. It's the perfect shape and size to produce a tall, puffy, golden baby. Preheating the pan in the oven is key.

          Pan-seared fish comes out really well using cast iron. I use it for almost everything.

      2. re: chowser
        Catskillgirl RE: chowser Oct 4, 2008 12:13 PM

        Oooooh yes. I remember once a friend promised to make pineapple upside-down cake for me, since I' d mentioned that I loved it. She made it in 9" round cake pans. Non-stick pans to boot. Blugh. It was basically just yellow cake with some bland topping. I remember my mother's as being gooey, dark brown caramelized and rich - nothing boring about hers! The cast-iron (she baked hers in a skillet after making the topping on the burner in the same pan) made all the difference!

      3. PamelaD RE: agarose2000 Sep 14, 2008 12:04 PM

        I have two cast iron skillets: one for 'sweet' and one for 'savory' since cast iron tends to absorb flavors a bit. I use my 'savory' for meats... mostly bacon, steak, duck breasts, etc... I use the 'sweet' one for pancakes and cornbread. Oh and I actually have a third smaller one for doing blackened fish (mostly salmon), either on the stove or on the grill.

        I'm sure there are many other wonderful things to cook in cast iron and I look forward to hearing everyone's ideas!


        1. MMRuth RE: agarose2000 Sep 14, 2008 12:05 PM

          I make Tarte Tatin in my cast iron pan.

          1. n
            nemo RE: agarose2000 Sep 14, 2008 01:33 PM

            I use my little 6" for crepes. You might want to also consider a Dutch oven. It's great for braises and roasts, and stove top for quick one-pot dishes.

            1 Reply
            1. re: nemo
              greenstate RE: nemo Sep 14, 2008 02:08 PM

              I am a convert. I have put away all my fancy ccokware and gone completely to cast iron. I use it for everything. My dutch oven is the best thing for soups and stews. Because cast iron gets so hot, so uniformly, it makes the best yorkshire pudding.

            2. alwayscooking RE: agarose2000 Sep 14, 2008 02:14 PM

              I use it for everything - as a way of adding iron to my diet.

              1. scuzzo RE: agarose2000 Sep 14, 2008 03:11 PM

                I do love a cast iron skillet. Though I try not eat potatoes at the moment, thick-sliced cooked potatoes fried in a hot skillet with olive oil and a few red pepper flakes was awesome! Crunchy and brown on the outside and tender on the inside. I sliced about 1/2 inch thick.

                1 Reply
                1. re: scuzzo
                  kolgrim RE: scuzzo Apr 7, 2010 12:53 PM

                  Another amazing potato variant in the skillet is Sage Roasted potatoes. Heat the oven to 450. Put down a generous layer of olive oil, cover the bottom with a single layer of sage leaves. Sprinkle with coarse salt. Then a single layer of small halved potatoes (no more than two inches in diameter. Throw in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour. It is one of my very favorite recipes.

                2. b
                  beth1 RE: agarose2000 Sep 14, 2008 03:57 PM

                  Any kind of roast veggie is good for the one you just fried bacon in, or cooked a great roast. Also, you can use them in an outdoor smoker to smoke hash, brunswick stew, and pulled pork.

                  1. cassoulady RE: agarose2000 Sep 14, 2008 04:16 PM

                    I make au gratin potatoes in mine all the time as well as fritatta. A cast iron skillet is great for a potato pancake/ zucchini cake. I also always use mine for fish (searing salmon, scallops etc).

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: cassoulady
                      aquinnahsun RE: cassoulady Nov 4, 2008 03:01 AM

                      Could you tell us the short version of your method for the au gratin potatoes in the cast iron skillet? I always make it in an oval French ceramic gratin dish, but I'll bet the cast iron gives a wonderful crust on the bottom.

                    2. BeefeaterRocks RE: agarose2000 Sep 14, 2008 04:39 PM

                      My cast iron skillets (one 40+ & one 20+ years old) are my everyday skillets except I avoid cooking anything acid in them. I can't imagine frying potatoes without cast iron, fried rice, omelets, grilled cheese, the list is endless and I have a 6" that is perfect for one fried egg, never sticks.

                      1. lynnlato RE: agarose2000 Sep 14, 2008 05:03 PM

                        Home fries! I am working on getting a CI skillet, but my grandma always made home fries in hers and they were perfect! Saute the onion and peppers in oil and then add diced, par-boiled potatoes and some butter. Toss to coat and then press down firmly w/ spatula and allow to cook until browned. Add more butter and flip over and press down again. Brown and voila - the best home fries ever!

                        1. Passadumkeg RE: agarose2000 Sep 14, 2008 05:14 PM

                          Great for roesti (sp?). Cast iron is all I own. Omelets. Fried cauliflower W/ garlic in olive oil & chili powder. Eggplant. Green tomatoes. etc.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Passadumkeg
                            Catskillgirl RE: Passadumkeg Oct 4, 2008 12:32 PM

                            Do you dredge the cauliflower in flour first, or just fry it nekkid? Sounds delicious!

                            1. re: Catskillgirl
                              Passadumkeg RE: Catskillgirl Oct 18, 2008 06:34 AM

                              Nekked w/ pepper flakes

                          2. ipsedixit RE: agarose2000 Sep 14, 2008 10:00 PM

                            Pizza, biscuits, paella, and french toast

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: ipsedixit
                              food_eater79 RE: ipsedixit Sep 24, 2008 06:41 PM

                              How do you do pizza in cast iron? Just curious.

                            2. FoodFuser RE: agarose2000 Sep 15, 2008 04:23 AM

                              Skillet cornbread, with the pan very hot, greased with bacon grease, batter poured in and shoved into hot oven. Comes out with a crunchy base. Very traditional. Think in terms of: how would they have made corn bread when all they had was a skillet and a wood stove oven?

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: FoodFuser
                                Will Owen RE: FoodFuser Sep 20, 2008 06:42 PM

                                One of my favorite tricks is to chop up a bunch of bacon and scatter it into the skillet, then put the skillet in the oven while it's pre-heating. Then when the time comes I take out the skillet, dump the grease and bacon into the batter, give it a quick beating and pour it all into the skillet. Sinful good cornbread! And you really need to use one of the old-fashioned recipes with NO wheat flour added.

                              2. alkapal RE: agarose2000 Sep 15, 2008 04:36 AM

                                hoecakes! to be served with field peas cooked with bacon. you'll be very happy, i ga-ron-tee.

                                1. soultender RE: agarose2000 Sep 15, 2008 04:47 AM

                                  A hearty concurrence with home fries and cornbread. I also use mine every Christmas morning for Dutch Babies -- a delectable, buttery, powdered sugary, pancake-like deliciousness (topped with fresh raspberries & mint sprigs)

                                  1. e
                                    emerilcantcook RE: agarose2000 Sep 15, 2008 07:11 AM

                                    I got rid of my non-sticks a while ago, and now use almost exclusively cast iron. The difference shows on those dishes that need a little bit of browning/searing.

                                    Frittatas turn out beautifully, and I heartily second (third? fourth) cornbread. I also have a griddled skillet, that I use as an imposter-indoor grill in the winter. Vegetables come out with wonderful faux-char marks.

                                    ...So as grilled cheese. Oh yeah, grilled cheese! You can also use a secondary skillet as your "press".


                                    I use it as a "stone" for homemade pizza.

                                    What is not heavenly in cast iron? Scrambled eggs. There is too much heat transfer (might be good if you prefer tough eggs); and whatever I do, however much seasoned my pan is, however much fat I use, it sticks.

                                    9 Replies
                                    1. re: emerilcantcook
                                      LNG212 RE: emerilcantcook Sep 15, 2008 07:52 AM

                                      Ditto the frittata. I just got a cast iron (based on CHer's talk here) and I love it. We made frittatas pretty regularly before too. But the ones I've made with the cast iron are amazing!

                                      1. re: emerilcantcook
                                        Will Owen RE: emerilcantcook Sep 20, 2008 06:47 PM

                                        emerilcantcook, are you heating the skillet before you add your grease for scrambled eggs? And are you making sure the fat is hot before the eggs go in? And are the eggs themselves properly warm, or did you get those babies out of the fridge? The only time I get eggs sticking is if my skillet's dirty - like, I just cooked bacon, and instead of wiping and rinsing out the skillet and starting over, I just dump the eggs in - or else I violated one of the rules written above.

                                        1. re: Will Owen
                                          emerilcantcook RE: Will Owen Sep 20, 2008 07:08 PM

                                          I have to admit, most times I tried they were ice cold, out of the fridge (don't have the patience to warm them up in the morning) and I can see that this is the culprit.

                                          I am also a big fan of really slow cooked creamy scrambled eggs (a la Gordon Ramsay), so the searing effect of a cast iron is not desirable in this situation.

                                          But I read you, the trick of non-stick cast iron (other than seasoning) is proper pre-heating and adequate grease.

                                          1. re: emerilcantcook
                                            Will Owen RE: emerilcantcook Sep 21, 2008 10:08 PM

                                            I would suggest you preheat the pan, add your fat, and then lower the temperature to the desired level. I cooked four eggs sunnyside up this morning in my favorite skillet, and the yolks were jelly-like and the white tender, so I know it can be done. There was one sticky spot where I must not have scrubbed all the bacon residue off perfectly, but a swipe of the spatula blade dealt with that.

                                            I know we've been brainwashed into believing otherwise in this country, but there is little or no reason to keep eggs in the fridge. They are in a perfectly aseptic container, and unless they have been infected during their formation will be harboring no harmful bacteria. This is in fact one of the few countries on earth where eggs are routinely sold from refrigerated cases. I've been leaving mine in a relatively cool spot on the counter for two years or more now, and have encountered only two bad ones, which probably were that way all along. Breaking them one by one into an intermediate bowl reliably weeds those out.

                                            1. re: Will Owen
                                              emerilcantcook RE: Will Owen Sep 22, 2008 06:19 AM

                                              i think there is a misunderstanding from the beginning. I do cook my fried eggs in my cast iron and I love it. But when it comes to scrambling them, the cast iron don't do it for me. Even if it doesn't stick, the resulting eggs turn out to be too tough. And lowering the temp doesn't help here, because the skillet retains the pre-heat for some time.

                                              1. re: emerilcantcook
                                                Will Owen RE: emerilcantcook Sep 22, 2008 01:18 PM

                                                Don't let it get that hot in the first place, then! When I'm slow-cooking eggs, which is almost always unless it's French omelets, I not only take my own sweet time getting the pan to an even LOW heat, I make the process even longer by interposing a cast-iron flame tamer between the flame and the pan. Takes about 8-10 minutes to get up there. For scrambled eggs I put some butter into the puddle of oil, and add the eggs when the butter's melted and just beginning to bubble.

                                                Mark Bittman did a very good video demo on scrambling eggs, stirring constantly with a fork, and whenever the curds threatened to become larger he just slid the pan off the heat and continued to stir.

                                                1. re: emerilcantcook
                                                  The Professor RE: emerilcantcook Sep 24, 2008 11:12 AM

                                                  Everyone has their own method with eggs.
                                                  As for me, I always use a very hot pan and the trick is just to work quickly. I like fairly runny scrambled eggs but still always use a hot cast iron pan. I preheat the pan, add some clarified butter, and as soon as that's melted I pour in the eggs.
                                                  The elapsed time from the time the egg slurry hits the pan and the time it hits my plate is usually less than 15 seconds.
                                                  They are certainly never tough.

                                                  1. re: The Professor
                                                    emerilcantcook RE: The Professor Sep 24, 2008 04:57 PM

                                                    See with my method (or actually Ramsay's), it takes 15 minutes (ok, perhaps an exaggeration). And I tried, I tried many times. It always sticks to cast iron and you cannot control the heat because iron retains it, and moving the pan out of the heat don't work. I don't care if I cannot cook these eggs in a pan. I have a stainless steel pan anyway.

                                                    Here is the method: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dU_B3Q...

                                                    1. re: The Professor
                                                      Richard 16 RE: The Professor Sep 25, 2008 09:47 AM

                                                      That's how I was trained, although we used restaurant steel pans there. I've used cast iron at home, and it's great! You can turn out a whole lot of eggs very quickly,

                                                      (To get the eggs fluffier use a stand or stick blender, but it's not really necessary. Also, if you want really smooth eggs, strain out the "chalazae". somewhat tougher cords that anchor the yolk to the ends of the shell - I tried it and yeah, it's smoother, but for me not worth effort).

                                          2. The Dairy Queen RE: agarose2000 Sep 15, 2008 07:52 AM

                                            I don't know how common it is, but Peter Berley's tofu with lemon and white wine is terrific in the cast iron skillet. The recipe is floating around here from when his book Flexitarian Table was COTM. I think beetlebug has a thread on that book that includes a paraphrase of the recipe as well.


                                            1. k
                                              KiltedCook RE: agarose2000 Sep 15, 2008 08:58 AM

                                              Goota have a lid for your CI skillet - or a Dutch Oven. I make stovetop Pan de Campo bread and Berry Grumbles (like cobblers but stove top not oven) also small quantity stews, tajines, fried chicken, arepas...

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: KiltedCook
                                                Passadumkeg RE: KiltedCook Sep 15, 2008 09:13 AM

                                                Spanish tortillas (potato, egg & onion)

                                              2. e
                                                Erlinda RE: agarose2000 Sep 17, 2008 09:52 PM

                                                There is nothing like a pineapple upside down cake made in a cast iron skillet! Fried chicken is fabulous in a cast iron skillet.

                                                Just make sure you season it (the skillet) properly.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: Erlinda
                                                  Will Owen RE: Erlinda Sep 20, 2008 06:49 PM

                                                  Frying chicken A LOT is the best strategy for seasoning a skillet I know!

                                                2. f
                                                  feedmeshow RE: agarose2000 Sep 19, 2008 06:17 AM

                                                  A cast iron skillet can't be beat for toasting up walnuts or pecans before incorporating them into a salad. It's a good use of heat that would otherwise go to waste when you're warming up the skillet preparatory to searing a cut of meat.

                                                  When we're casting for the Feed Me Show, we always ask people about their desert island cookware. The real home cooks never fail to mention a cast iron pan.

                                                  1. c
                                                    charlesbois RE: agarose2000 Sep 19, 2008 06:53 AM

                                                    i make great ratatouille in mine. I know some people eschew cooking anything acidic, like tomatoes, but I always add the tomatoes close to the end and I use lots of olive oil, which coats the pan.

                                                    I also love to fry sausages in my cast iron as it gets very hot, the skins get very crispy and the pan doesn't discolor like some aluminum or stainless ones will.

                                                    1. verticalQ RE: agarose2000 Sep 19, 2008 07:00 AM

                                                      Cast iron skillets are the only way to make a proper grilled cheese sandwich. Apply softened butter evenly across the bread's surface, and grill the whole thing just below medium. Grilling it slowly is the key... too fast and you'll burn your bread before the cheese melts. I know this isn't the most complicated recipe in the world, but it really is worth mentioning.

                                                      1. c
                                                        colfaxBee RE: agarose2000 Sep 19, 2008 07:22 AM

                                                        I love to make this apple "pancake" (http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...) that has more of a custard--y consistency. It really easy to make, delicious and looks gorgeous.

                                                        1. g
                                                          gibson RE: agarose2000 Sep 19, 2008 07:58 AM

                                                          we use our 10" on the grill; salmon, tuna, blackened grouper.... no mess, no stick, no smoke to deal with, fantastic!

                                                          1. 1
                                                            1stmakearoux RE: agarose2000 Sep 19, 2008 08:04 AM

                                                            Try making "migas," a tasty Mexican breakfast with eggs, cheese, and tortillas. And if you need to make a roux, nothing beats cast iron.

                                                            1. chef chicklet RE: agarose2000 Sep 19, 2008 08:14 AM

                                                              i am in total agreement, I've really sort of put my cast iron in the front ( and my wok) and use it as much as possible. Its not hard to clean at all either. It does make great potatoes, or fried chicken and the best cream gravy. Really reminds me of when I was growing up, the perfect crust on the chicken and the crunchy left over bits in the pan that permeat the gravy. Just everything. I have a cast iron flat grill/griddle, pancakes and french toast are excellent, stuff them with fruits like peaches or bananas, finish it in the oven. No worries with how hot the pan gets or any handles melting.
                                                              I do make tomato sauces in the fry pan, I clean and reseason.

                                                              Oh and pineapple upside down cake, in cast iron its killer.

                                                              1. The Professor RE: agarose2000 Sep 19, 2008 08:42 AM

                                                                Can't beat cast iron for eggs...scrambled, fried, fritatta etc. Nothing sticks to these pans. And yes...it's the only right way to do grilled cheese sandwiches (try making one using a light film of olive oil. Incredible).

                                                                I have a collection of C I pans in various sizes (including a deep chicken fryer)...all are old vintage pans of the smooth type...I don't like the new ones they sell these days with the rough interior surface. After a total burn-off cleaning and re-seasoning, there's nothing like one of these old pans.
                                                                On the stove, in the oven...so versatile. Couldn't live without at least one iron pan in my pantry.

                                                                1. m
                                                                  mcagain RE: agarose2000 Sep 19, 2008 09:02 AM

                                                                  I was going to say pineapple upside cake but I see several people have already said it. But you can't imagine how good it is until you bake it in a cast iron. Mom cooked everything in that huge iron skillet.

                                                                  1. Richard 16 RE: agarose2000 Sep 19, 2008 09:09 AM

                                                                    Use it right on the coals in the grill.

                                                                    1. s
                                                                      spm RE: agarose2000 Sep 19, 2008 12:03 PM

                                                                      Yeah, ditto to cornbread, frittata, omelets, pancakes and all things fried... I like making an old family favorite in my well seasoned iron skillet, a pfannkuchen which is kind of an apple pancake that is baked and put under the broiler sprinkled with brown sugar and cinnamon. It puffs up and is wonderful.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: spm
                                                                        rose water RE: spm Sep 27, 2008 05:49 PM

                                                                        ooh, please do share your recipe

                                                                      2. l
                                                                        lmdjc RE: agarose2000 Sep 19, 2008 01:17 PM

                                                                        Any chance that you will share those dutch baby or berry grumble recipes?? I've made grunts, crumbles and cobblers, but a grumble sounds like fun!

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: lmdjc
                                                                          toodie jane RE: lmdjc Sep 20, 2008 06:35 AM

                                                                          Dutch Baby is just a sweetYorkshire pudding (minus the beef drippings--use lots of butter instead) poured in a buttered, hot cast iron pan and baked in hot 400 degree oven. Like a popover of giant proportions.

                                                                          One way to serve is with sauteed apple slices and Greek yogurt.

                                                                        2. l
                                                                          lgss RE: agarose2000 Sep 20, 2008 07:19 PM

                                                                          Chipotle cornbread. Recipe from Veggie Planet cookbook.

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: lgss
                                                                            janeh RE: lgss Sep 21, 2008 10:50 PM

                                                                            Ditto on much of the above. I've also used my skillet to make Mark Bittman's Camelized Tomato Tart Tatin three times since it appeared in the NYTimes last week! Great recipe.


                                                                          2. m
                                                                            mlgb RE: agarose2000 Sep 24, 2008 11:03 AM

                                                                            I'm surprised nobody has mentioned quesadilla. The tortillas get nice and crispy around the edges. I start with the tortilla, flip it over, when it's the right degree of done, just sprinkle the cheese and anything else on the open tortilla. When it starts to melt, remove to the plate, fold and it's done.

                                                                            Cast iron skillets are also a great way to toast all types of bread. Anyone ever had "fried slice"?

                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                            1. re: mlgb
                                                                              Whosyerkitty RE: mlgb Sep 26, 2008 04:02 PM

                                                                              I make quesadilla in mine and grilled cheese. I also like to sometimes sautee veggies and brown them a little.

                                                                              I don't seem to have a problem with eggs sticking, especially fried.

                                                                              And of course NOTHING is better than CI for pancakes.

                                                                              I would love a pineapple upside down cake recipe, if anyone would care to share.

                                                                              1. re: Whosyerkitty
                                                                                mlgb RE: Whosyerkitty Sep 26, 2008 06:54 PM

                                                                                The Dole one is pretty much the classic version, although I would use butter rather than margarine. I also don't remember using lemon juice, probably instead reserved some of the juice from the can.


                                                                            2. q
                                                                              Querencia RE: agarose2000 Sep 26, 2008 06:17 PM

                                                                              The only thing I keep my cast-iron skillet for is German Apple Pancake. You saute the apples slightly in brown sugar, butter, and cinnamon then pour an egg batter over and bake it in a very hot oven until it souffles. (But I've gotten so many good ideas from this thread I will try using it for other things too.)

                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. re: Querencia
                                                                                MMRuth RE: Querencia Sep 26, 2008 06:22 PM

                                                                                Do you have a recipe for the egg batter - that sounds wonderful! I bought mine to make Tarte Tatin, but have since migrated to other things as well!

                                                                              2. b
                                                                                beany RE: agarose2000 Sep 26, 2008 07:07 PM

                                                                                The best thing i've ever made in my skillet is a roasted chicken with the skin on. I stuff my chicken, and put some quartered potatoes in the skillet. whatever stuffing is leftover goes around the perimeter of the chicken. The fat of the skin "melts" and fries the stuffing and roast potatoes. It's heavenly!

                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                1. re: beany
                                                                                  chowser RE: beany Sep 27, 2008 01:25 PM

                                                                                  I forgot about this. It's great for Zuni roast chicken. Oh, but it's meat related.

                                                                                  1. re: beany
                                                                                    cosmogrrl RE: beany Apr 4, 2010 03:33 PM

                                                                                    That's the only way i roast my chickens. It's delightful. Something about the heat retention of the CI that makes for a perfect roast chicken!

                                                                                    I also make Julia's recipe for Tart Tartine in mine.

                                                                                  2. t
                                                                                    turqmut RE: agarose2000 Sep 29, 2008 07:48 AM

                                                                                    The Southern Living recipe for pineapple upside down cake is my favorite, and calls specifically for a cast iron skillet. Their corn bread recipe too, which also calls for preheating the fat in the pan before putting in the batter. Fun sizzle for a fabulous crust.

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: turqmut
                                                                                      alkapal RE: turqmut Sep 29, 2008 08:19 AM

                                                                                      there is absolutely nothing better than crusty hot cornbread from the skillet, with good butter slathered on, dripping on your fingers as it melts while you stuff the bites into your mouth! now, i need some field peas with snaps, cooked with some bacon.

                                                                                      oh. yeah.

                                                                                    2. g
                                                                                      gfr1111 RE: agarose2000 Sep 29, 2008 08:49 AM

                                                                                      Fried cubed potatoes develop a much better crust with a cast iron pan than with any other pan I have used. There is more to it than just the frying in fat. You can do that, of course, in any frying pan. Something about the cast iron makes the crust on the potatoes thicker and crunchier.

                                                                                      What I think is interesting is that the increased communication that we have all experienced has brought about this rediscovery of cast iron skillets. I attribute this to Chowhound and sites like it, as well as the Food Network, and the renaissance in cooking magazines. A few years ago, I thought I was a pretty knowledgeable amateur cook, but would not have been caught dead cooking with cast iron. I thought that it was a "dinosaur" cooking medium that took forever to heat up; food stuck to it like crazy; it was hard to clean; it was uncomfortably heavy; and it rusted. I thought that it was good for the pioneers cooking over campfires, but I thought it was not nearly as good as aluminum frying pans. Boy, was I wrong! I wonder how many more things are out there like this that our grandparents knew about and that we may rediscover someday.

                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: gfr1111
                                                                                        Whosyerkitty RE: gfr1111 Oct 4, 2008 08:54 AM

                                                                                        Oh, but I like the weight. It won't ever tip over and gives it that indesructible quality that I love (mine are very very very old, handed down). I'm not crazy about cleaning them, but it's worth it to me.

                                                                                        I can think of a thing from Grandma's day: vinegar. Cleaning, laundry, hair care, skin care, odor removal, insect bites, tons of things. Cheap, natural and safe. I think it's anti-bacterial naturally.

                                                                                        1. re: gfr1111
                                                                                          BarmyFotheringayPhipps RE: gfr1111 Nov 3, 2009 08:45 PM

                                                                                          I can't even process that paragraph. A new cast iron skillet was the very first thing I bought when I moved into my first apartment, and I'm still jealous that my brother got our parents' cast iron when they died. Different foods require different pans, of course, but estimate that up to 50-60% of all the cooking I do involves either the skillet, or the two-burner grill/griddle, or one of the Dutch ovens, or the wok...

                                                                                        2. Catskillgirl RE: agarose2000 Oct 4, 2008 12:10 PM

                                                                                          Grilled cheese! And french toast. Cast-iron is perfect for these. Anything potato-related (hash-browns come to mind). I love cast-iron, and I'm still upset many years after the fact that my grandfather threw away my grandmother's cherished cast-iron cookware. She'd used it for 40+ years and it was perfectly seasoned and always ready for use. Sigh.

                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                          1. re: Catskillgirl
                                                                                            alkapal RE: Catskillgirl Oct 5, 2008 10:26 AM

                                                                                            catskillgirl, that hurts me to hear...... ;-(

                                                                                          2. toodie jane RE: agarose2000 Oct 5, 2008 12:04 PM

                                                                                            chicken pot pie with biscuit crust!

                                                                                            Make a white sauce enriching it with chicken broth or bullion; add leftover chicken, potoates, steamed veggies, herbs, and heat well.

                                                                                            Make a biscuit dough using butter as the shortening, and 2 eggs with enough milk or buttermilk to bring together. Add 3-4 T finely minced fresh herbs. Roll 3/" thick on a floured flexible cutting mat and slide over the top of chicken/veg mix in the pan. Brush with 3 T beaten egg.

                                                                                            Place on top rack of 400 degree PREHEATED oven, bake till golden and bubbly. Let cool 5 minutes and serve.

                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                            1. re: toodie jane
                                                                                              The Professor RE: toodie jane Oct 6, 2008 09:51 AM

                                                                                              Now THAT sounds like the ultimate comfort food. Gonna try that one...thanks!

                                                                                            2. f
                                                                                              fallingup RE: agarose2000 Oct 6, 2008 08:39 AM

                                                                                              You can't make good dosas without a well-seasoned cast iron pan. I have a huge one at home used only for dosa making. I don't remember the last time it saw a sink.

                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                              1. re: fallingup
                                                                                                divya RE: fallingup Nov 3, 2009 10:48 AM

                                                                                                u may save a lot of trouble for me,
                                                                                                please do share ur dosa recipe. thanks

                                                                                              2. lindsley RE: agarose2000 Oct 7, 2008 11:59 AM

                                                                                                Please help - an elderly neighbor gave me his wife's well-used cast iron cookware and I was thrilled. One question: it all feels sort of sticky and not real clean - tried boiling a little water in pot, but not sure if there's a better way to clean thes - no soap, right? Thanks

                                                                                                1. lindsley RE: agarose2000 Oct 7, 2008 12:02 PM

                                                                                                  I somehow screwed up my last post! An elderly neighbor gave me his late wife's cast iron cookware. I'm thrilled to get it but it all feels sort of sticky and not real clean. Tried boiling water in one pan to clean it , but hope there's a way that works better. No soap, right? Thanks

                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: lindsley
                                                                                                    PamelaD RE: lindsley Oct 14, 2008 09:10 AM

                                                                                                    I pour a good amount of either coarse salt or baking soda, or a combo of both into the cooled pan and scrub with a damp cloth. Rinse. Heat on stove to get super dry. Wipe with a bit of oil and let cool.

                                                                                                    1. re: lindsley
                                                                                                      aquinnahsun RE: lindsley Nov 4, 2008 03:15 AM

                                                                                                      You can use soap or even Brillo on the pan, if it's really dirty and/or rusty. This will remove the seasoning, but you can just re-season the pan.

                                                                                                    2. j
                                                                                                      Joebob RE: agarose2000 Oct 7, 2008 06:39 PM

                                                                                                      David Eyre's pancake! Am I right people?

                                                                                                      8 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: Joebob
                                                                                                        Whosyerkitty RE: Joebob Oct 7, 2008 07:58 PM

                                                                                                        I always use soap and I would actually suggest that you scrub with SOS or a stiff brush or metal mesh pad and re-season. Always use heat to dry it which prevents rust and opens the pores and then wipe it with oil and put it on a low flame. It will absorb the oil and create the finish. Check it every ten minutes or so and keep an eye on it. Don't let it smoke. Make greasy things in it after that--potatoes, bacon, fried chicken things like that. Once you get it seasoned well, you'll love it.

                                                                                                        1. re: Whosyerkitty
                                                                                                          The Professor RE: Whosyerkitty Oct 8, 2008 12:45 PM

                                                                                                          No soap. .Assuming they are regular, naked cast iron pans with no coating, wood, or plastic on them, just put the pans in the oven, lock the oven door, and start the oven-cleaning cycle. In the 2 or 3 hours (depending on your oven) of 500+ degree heat, you'll burn everything off the pans. Let them cool, wash off the layer of ash that will be covering them, and season them with oil in the usual manner. And of course, never ever use soap or detergent on the pans after that.

                                                                                                          1. re: The Professor
                                                                                                            toodie jane RE: The Professor Oct 10, 2008 10:10 AM

                                                                                                            Proff: I have read some cautions on the dangers of ultra-high heat causing old cast iron to crack/explode., so I err on the side of caution.

                                                                                                            And I think the soap issue is one that has a couple of camps. I'm in the 'a wee bit of soap is OK ' camp. I use a diluted dish liquid (7th Gen) and a scotchbrite pad to remove food and fats. This method has never removed the seasoning. I hand dry with flooursack dishtowel, and place in a 200 degree oven for 10 minutes. (Safer for my forgetful nature than using an open burner)

                                                                                                            I have a full set plus of CI fry pans and have never had a problem with them. If I get an abused used one with cooked on gunk, I build a fire in the fireplace (or you can use an outdoor BBQ) and let the coals go to white, then place the pan directly on top as the coals cool; they gently bake off the crud. Takes a couple of times, but then you have a clean pan to scour and re-season. I like to fry some chicken as away of re-seasoning.

                                                                                                            Just made a homemade version of an 'Impossible Pie' last night in my largest pan. Like a poor man's souffle. Twas good. I made about a cup of scratch biscuit mix, 3 eggs and 1 cup of milk, beat well into the dry ingredients and poured over a hot pan full of sauteed veggies and leftover meat and cheese. Into a 400 degree oven and baked about 25 minutes.

                                                                                                            1. re: toodie jane
                                                                                                              The Professor RE: toodie jane Oct 14, 2008 08:56 AM

                                                                                                              Great info...I will have to try that Impossible Pie.
                                                                                                              As far as soap/detergent, yes, there are different schools of thought and like anything else, we stick with whatever works for us. Where personal taste and methods are concerned, there are few hard and fast rules.

                                                                                                              I don't really have an aversion to using soap or detergent on these things, it's just I've rarely found the need to do so. And as you suggest, when it is necessary a little bit of a well diluted solution goes a long way.

                                                                                                            2. re: The Professor
                                                                                                              Whosyerkitty RE: The Professor Oct 11, 2008 01:49 PM

                                                                                                              Mine are over 75 years old and I use soap every day. I oil 'em up when they need it. I further don't even HAVE a self cleaning oven. These things are cast IRON, nearly indestructible, not some kind of gossamer fragile magical wonder. People dragged them thousands of miles across the prairie or whatever. I do what my mom did and her mom did, and the last thing these women were going to do was coddle some PANS.

                                                                                                              1. re: Whosyerkitty
                                                                                                                Catskillgirl RE: Whosyerkitty Oct 16, 2008 09:41 AM

                                                                                                                LOL! I love your vehemence. And while I don't coddle my pans, I don't like to use soap unless I really need to. The one thing to guard against is rust, IMO.

                                                                                                                1. re: Catskillgirl
                                                                                                                  food_eater79 RE: Catskillgirl Nov 3, 2008 05:50 PM

                                                                                                                  One tip learned the hard way:
                                                                                                                  Don't let your cast iron sit for more than a day or so after cooking in it before scrubbing in hot water with little to no soap. It will leave bronze spots in the pan, aka mild rust. Still cooks fine, but I might need to re-cure it.

                                                                                                                2. re: Whosyerkitty
                                                                                                                  cosmogrrl RE: Whosyerkitty Apr 4, 2010 03:46 PM

                                                                                                                  I use soap on mine almost every time. Especially on the one I use to make bacon in; can't get the bacon smell out w/o soap. I have three that I use all the time. And I got 3 pans from some tenants in my building who left them behind. Pluses of being a building manager.

                                                                                                          2. Gooseberry RE: agarose2000 Oct 14, 2008 03:05 PM

                                                                                                            What is the difference between seasoned cast iron skillet and an enamel-lined cast iron skillet?

                                                                                                            I have a LC buffet pan, which is like a slope-sided paella pan, made from cast iron lined with enamel. It's quite large, so good for searing, etc.

                                                                                                            I love using it, but am I missing out by not also having an unlined, seasoned cast iron skillet, too? Has anyone done any side by side fry-up comparisons?

                                                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: Gooseberry
                                                                                                              mlgb RE: Gooseberry Oct 16, 2008 08:58 AM

                                                                                                              The LC perform similarly to an unlined cast iron pan that has a newer sand-cast texture(i.e., the slightly rough pebbly feel), with a half-cocked finish. They sear well, don't rust if properly cared for, but are not great for eggs. If you want an improvement in nonstick performance, I think you need one with a smooth finish, properly seasoned. And a lot of the advice that you get here doesn't get you a true nonstick finish.

                                                                                                              1. re: mlgb
                                                                                                                Gooseberry RE: mlgb Oct 17, 2008 03:44 PM

                                                                                                                thanks, mlgb.

                                                                                                                What is a half-cocked finish?

                                                                                                                1. re: Gooseberry
                                                                                                                  alkapal RE: Gooseberry Oct 18, 2008 05:40 AM

                                                                                                                  i'm anxious to see how mlgb uses "half cocked" in connection with a cookware finish, too! ;-)

                                                                                                                  1. re: alkapal
                                                                                                                    rockfish42 RE: alkapal Nov 3, 2008 10:26 PM

                                                                                                                    Older pans have a smooth finish that was hand machined. The newer pans have a pebbled surface due to being sand cast and left they way they are. I find that the smooth finish is better for eggs but for everything else a well seasoned newer pan is fine. If you want the smoother finish look for Griswold or Wagner pans on Ebay or at local thrift stores.

                                                                                                                    1. re: rockfish42
                                                                                                                      alkapal RE: rockfish42 Nov 5, 2008 04:40 AM

                                                                                                                      my skillets are old and smooth. they do need some de-gooing, though. and i do need to use them more.

                                                                                                            2. Pastryrocks RE: agarose2000 Nov 3, 2008 09:16 PM

                                                                                                              It's the best way imho to bake Tarte Tatin, the even heat cooks the apples so evenly and the caramel form the heat is the best.

                                                                                                              I also love large cubed boiled potatoes, which have been dried out in the empty pot that they where boiled in. Season the potatoes and then place the lid back on the pot and shake the boiled potatoes two or three times. This creates very tiny air pockets in the potatoes. All the while I’ve been cooking good bacon in the cast iron pan in a very hot oven. You can also add some olive oil if there is not enough bacon to create a pool of hot liquid fat.

                                                                                                              Place the potatoes in the hot fat in one layer, I use two large cast iron pans, and there are only enough potatoes for two, well four but I can eat lots of these potatoes. And roast/bake until the potatoes are golden brown. You will need to turn them over to brown the other sides. The hot fat will create a wonderful brown crust on the potatoes. You can use duck fat or even beef fat. Sour cream and chives add their own special flavour to these potatoes.

                                                                                                              I’ve done the potatoes in a sheet pan, but even in a real hot oven it is not as fast and the crust is not as nice as a coast iron pan.

                                                                                                              Sear salmon, chicken breast, pork chops (we eat our pork medium), all work well in the cast iron. The only down side is when a acid is added, it tends to pick up a metallic taste.

                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                              1. re: Pastryrocks
                                                                                                                alkapal RE: Pastryrocks Nov 5, 2008 04:42 AM

                                                                                                                pastryrocks, those potatoes sound awesomely delicious!

                                                                                                              2. Candy RE: agarose2000 Nov 3, 2009 01:29 PM

                                                                                                                Quince Tarte Tatin

                                                                                                                1. FoodFuser RE: agarose2000 Nov 4, 2009 02:15 PM

                                                                                                                  I use cast iron to roast garlic cloves on the stovetop.

                                                                                                                  Cloves must be peeled. I use the rolling garden hose garlic peeling tool. Place cloves in dry cast iron, put over Low heat, with a flat lid that is smaller than the pan diameter placed directly onto the garlic. No oil necessary. Shake pan a few times during the half hour or so that it takes to roast, to distribute the gentle browning.

                                                                                                                  Gives a higher yield than roasting whole heads and squeezing. Downside is the time spent in peeling, but that is what watching a tv show is for.

                                                                                                                  Last year when garlic was on sale for 19 cents a pound, my house smelled wonderfully of pounds and pounds of the roasting "stinking rose". We rented a few movies, sat in the kitchen and peeled cloves until we had a few gallons of loose dry skins and many pounds of roasted garlic, that freeze well.

                                                                                                                  6 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: FoodFuser
                                                                                                                    alkapal RE: FoodFuser Nov 4, 2009 05:01 PM

                                                                                                                    fuser, i'm sure you've roasted the similarly-prepped cloves in the oven, too. why do you prefer the stovetop?

                                                                                                                    1. re: alkapal
                                                                                                                      FoodFuser RE: alkapal Nov 4, 2009 07:25 PM

                                                                                                                      Good question. Several answers.

                                                                                                                      Uses less energy than oven. Also allows for fun manipulation and easier scrutiny of "when garlic is done". Each clove, when stovetop roasted, is easily handled.

                                                                                                                      I love cast iron, and keep it on the stovetop. Use it as often as possible to continue developing a seasoned patina.

                                                                                                                      Also, I'm pretty well convinced that in a previous incarnation in the 1820's thru 1840's, I was a trader traveling the western frontier, wielding a fortune from introducing cast iron skillets and kettles and cauldrons to the Indian tribes, changing their culinary lives and the way they roasted their Camas bulbs.

                                                                                                                      1. re: FoodFuser
                                                                                                                        alkapal RE: FoodFuser Nov 5, 2009 03:20 AM

                                                                                                                        excellent! may i pick my favorite answer? ;-).

                                                                                                                        more questions:
                                                                                                                        does the garlic get little char spots?
                                                                                                                        does it brown all over -- or is that overdone?
                                                                                                                        how do you store the roasted garlic, then?

                                                                                                                        any...maybe this should be a separate thread: how do you use your roasted garlic in not-so-typical ways?

                                                                                                                        1. re: alkapal
                                                                                                                          FoodFuser RE: alkapal Nov 5, 2009 04:53 PM

                                                                                                                          Yes, brown char spots, with the rest of the clove softened yellow.

                                                                                                                          Store by freezing in 8 oz jelly jars, with evoo to cover, then pulled from freezer to fridge as I go thru them. The worries of "garlic in oil = botulism" have been removed by the roasting.

                                                                                                                          1. re: FoodFuser
                                                                                                                            alkapal RE: FoodFuser Nov 5, 2009 05:23 PM


                                                                                                                            1. re: FoodFuser
                                                                                                                              divya RE: FoodFuser Nov 11, 2009 06:55 AM

                                                                                                                              thanks FoodFuser
                                                                                                                              did ur garlic trick, and added jalapenos(non seeded but stemmed) as well= hence my oil is garlicky/chilli.
                                                                                                                              an observation: jalapenos had water in them, hence they were spluttering, even after i slit them.

                                                                                                                    2. s
                                                                                                                      sueatmo RE: agarose2000 Nov 4, 2009 07:55 PM

                                                                                                                      Browning ground meat, baking biscuits (I use a small skillet for 4 biscuits for the 2 of us), making pancakes, making cornbread. I've become a convert to these skillets from reading posts on this board.

                                                                                                                      1. Crockett67 RE: agarose2000 Apr 5, 2010 06:50 PM

                                                                                                                        I use it to roast any and all vegetables. Roasted Asparagus, roasted tomatoes, roasted squash, roasted root vegetables. The list goes on. It's just oil seasoning and 375F until done. Yum!!!

                                                                                                                        1. Passadumkeg RE: agarose2000 Apr 6, 2010 09:48 AM

                                                                                                                          Lobster braised in Bourbon.

                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: Passadumkeg
                                                                                                                            The Professor RE: Passadumkeg Apr 6, 2010 04:41 PM

                                                                                                                            ...gotta try THAT one!
                                                                                                                            Something original you came up with or did you have this somewhere?
                                                                                                                            Sounds intriguing..

                                                                                                                            1. re: The Professor
                                                                                                                              Passadumkeg RE: The Professor Apr 7, 2010 02:45 AM

                                                                                                                              I must confess; served at The Clairmont Hotel in Southwest Hbr., Me. The last of the MDI big fine old hotels. Split the bod and crack the claws before braising to allow the bourbon to enter the meat.
                                                                                                                              Steaming lobbers in Lemon Jello sounds disgusting, but is quite good.

                                                                                                                          2. boyzoma RE: agarose2000 Apr 7, 2010 01:20 PM

                                                                                                                            Here is a fun one if you have a cast iron dutch oven. I've made this many times and it was always good.

                                                                                                                            Sheepherder Bread

                                                                                                                            3 cups very hot water
                                                                                                                            ½ cup margarine
                                                                                                                            ½ cup sugar
                                                                                                                            2 ½ teaspoon salt
                                                                                                                            2 packages yeast
                                                                                                                            About 9 cups flour
                                                                                                                            Dutch Oven

                                                                                                                            In bowl, combine hot water, margarine, sugar and salt. Stir until butter melts – cool until luke-warm. Stir in yeast. Cover and sit in a warm place until bubbly. (About 15 minutes). Add 5 cups flour and beat with a heavy duty mixer or wooden spoon to form a thick batter. With a spoon, stir in enough of the remaining flour (about 3 ½ cups) to form a stiff dough. Turn dough out on a floured board. Knead until smooth (about 10 minutes) adding flour as needed to prevent sticking. Turn dough over in a greased bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place (about 1 ½ hours) or until double in bulk. Punch dough down and knead on a floured board to form a smooth ball. Cut circle of foil to cover bottom of Dutch Oven. Grease the insides of Dutch Oven and the inside of the lid with vegetable oil, place foil in bottom. Place dough in Dutch Oven and cover with the lid. Let rise in a warm place until dough pushes lid up (about ½ inch) – about 1 hour. Watch closely.

                                                                                                                            Bake covered with lid in a 375 degree oven for 12 minutes. Remove lid and continue baking for another 30-35 minutes. Remove from oven and turn loaf out on a rack to cool.

                                                                                                                            1. poofty RE: agarose2000 Apr 7, 2010 01:57 PM

                                                                                                                              milk gravy from fried chicken or pork chops

                                                                                                                              1. s
                                                                                                                                superlynn RE: agarose2000 Jun 11, 2010 12:29 PM

                                                                                                                                Yams and Sweet Potatoes ! Impossibly Easy and you can't go wrong. Slice in half ( long ) and place down in your pan with a little bit of butter. Cover and bake until soft. Awesome !!

                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                1. re: superlynn
                                                                                                                                  Mrs Shoutfire RE: superlynn Feb 12, 2011 03:46 PM

                                                                                                                                  Yes, impossibly easy and awesomely delicious. I put a coating of olive oil with a tiny bit of bacon fat in the cold pan, sprinkled kosher salt, then some dried rosemary, then my sweet potatoes cut-side down. About 35 minutes in a 400F oven. Perfect!

                                                                                                                                2. s
                                                                                                                                  sugarsnap70 RE: agarose2000 May 23, 2011 11:24 PM

                                                                                                                                  The BEST and only bread I ever made was using my cast iron skillet and it's cover. The recipe is in Jim Lahey's "My Bread" book. It's a no-knead recipe and it suggested to use a cast iron Dutch oven. Well, I improvised and used my #9 Griswold skillet and cover. What a success!!!!

                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                  1. re: sugarsnap70
                                                                                                                                    taurus30 RE: sugarsnap70 Apr 21, 2012 09:01 PM

                                                                                                                                    I've been making Jim Lahey's bread, (no knead) for over 2 years now. I use a 5 qt CI dutch oven. I also love cast iron and have many pieces. I find instead of messing around with pizza stones and cracking, I make my pizza on Lodge's CI pizza pan. I 'd say it compares to using a stone!

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