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Monday, July 19, 2010

My Iron Skillet Love Affair.

I am in love with my iron skillets. It is an affair that my husband totally approves us. He loves it when I spend time with them. He encourages the love triangle.

I don't remember where we met, or how the affair started. Slowly, a pound of bacon here, a chicken breast there and I became hooked. It did take awhile because you see in the beginning I cooked with the nasty "vegetable oil". My pans would get sticky and be hard to clean. I would longingly look at Mimi's pan and wonder why mine were playing so hard to get? Her  pan made the best cornbread in the world. I'm just saying! My cornbread would stick.

One day however we came to a new understanding. I turned my back forever on that slease - vegetable oil. I began to cook almost exclusively with luscious butter, bacon grease and coconut oil. My pans were happy. They felt loved and they began to return the love with eggs that slide right out. Bacon that crisps just perfectly. The cornbread - let me tell you, I now make to die for cornbread. I really think it is the pan that is the secret ingredient.

One of my favorite things about my iron skillets is that they go from stove top to oven without any worries. I can make my shephards pie on the stove top and finish it in the oven.

I use these darlings on my glass flat top stove. I know you aren't supposed to but I am willing to take the risk. My stove isn't as dear to me as these pans. I just always pick them up - never scoot them.

A bonus that I love is that when you cook with an iron skillet they release some iron into your food. I had been iron deficient for years and this is an easy way to add a little to my diet. No worries - we all have and need iron to live.

My pans clean up like a breeze. I just run them under hot water, swish with washcloth and then dry them thoroughly before putting them in the oven. If it doesn't want to clean up easy I just use a little salt as an abrasive and whatever is stuck comes right off. I often will add a TBS or so of oil onto a rag and rub it around the pans and then put them in a 250 degree oven for about 10 minutes. This helps to keep my pans feeling loved and seasoned.

You too can have a love affair with an iron skillet or two. They are easy to season, just follow the instructions below. They will last forever. Your great - grandchildren will still be using yours in 2060!

Definition of Seasoning: To season a cast-iron pans means to create a slick and glassy coating by baking on multiple thin coats of oil. This will protect the cast-iron pan from getting rusted and makes for a non-stick cooking surface.
You season a cast iron pan by rubbing it with a relatively thin coat of neutral food-grade oil (I stress a light coat of oil). Either lard or coconut oil will work. Rub the oil off with paper towels or a cotton cloth. The pan will look like there is no oil left on the surface, but there is as the oil is just very thin. The pan will look dry, not glistening with oil.

Place the cast iron pan, upside down, in the oven, with a sheet of aluminum foil on the bottom to catch any drips. Heat the pan for 30 to 60 minutes in a 500 degree F. oven. Once done, let the pan cool to room temperature. Repeating this process several times is recommended as it will help create a stronger "seasoning" bond. 
The oil fills the cavities and becomes entrenched in them, as well as rounding off the peaks. By seasoning a new pan, the cooking surface develops a nonstick quality because the formerly jagged and pitted surface becomes smooth. Also, because the pores are permeated with oil, water cannot seep in and create rust that would give food an off-flavor. Your iron skillet  will be slightly discolored at this stage, but a couple of frying jobs will help complete the cure, and turn the iron into the rich, black color that is the sign of a well-seasoned, well-used skillet or pot.

Oh and never ever put cold liquid into a very hot cast iron pan or oven. They will crack on the spot!

Finally, you need to use real fat - bacon, lard, tallow, coconut oil and butter when you cook in them - nasty vegetable oils can leave a tacky coating. Besides we know that vegetable oils are horrible for us to consume.

Let me tell you - once you go Iron Skillet you'll never go back!

This is my link for Two for Tuesdays - a Fabtabulous Blog Hop that co-host with 6 other amazing bloggers. Be sure to link up and join in the fun! I am also linking this to Works for Me Wednesday, lots of great tips to be had there.
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  1. I've been trying to season my skillet and I think it's just about there! :)

  2. I am totally in agreement with cast iron skillets are my favorite kitchen tool- hands down...and have been for years! Started with my grandma when I was little and hope it continues on for many generations! Awesome post =)

  3. Such a timely post. I am re-seasoning all my cast iron today. 3 dutch ovens and a skillet and a griddle. Of course I pick 100 degree heat to do it in. I "stupidly" lent my cast iron to a group for a church activity. Drat!!!

  4. What an adorable post, C! I had the same exact experience - I tried and failed with cast iron many times. It wasn't until I embraced lard that I realized it was the vegetable oil that was making a gummy mess.

  5. Oh, you gave me serious pan envy with this post. I want to run out and buy some skillets right now. oh, well, it'll have to wait, but this definitely moved iron skillet to the top of my kitchen wish list ;)

  6. Do you worry about scratching the stove top?

  7. That's a great tip about not getting any water into the pan when it's hot! I really want a cast Iron pan! I want to put that on my "saving list" but I first got to get over the hurdle that is my student loans first ha.

  8. Christy! I thought I was the ONLY ONE in love with a frying pan!!! I am sooooo happy to know we share that love! I only have one right now, but want more! Mine is babied like well, a baby! Awesome idea for the sheppards pie! Thanks for hosting and posting on the two for tuesday recipe blog hop! :) HUGS! you wicked rock! Alex@amoderatelife

  9. Hooray! I love this! I inherited my great-grandmother's cast iron skillets, pans, etc. I've been trying to get motivated about getting into use - and I think you've just given me the motivation to get there! Thank you!

  10. Hi Christy,
    I buy lard at the store and use it to make soap but I've never cooked with it. The stuff I get comes in a tub and says it contains some kind of preservative. Is that what you use? If not, what should I get instead?

  11. Michelle - I know it can scratch my stovetop but I am just careful.

    Bonnie - well you will be blessed by your generosity - too bad they didn't know how to care for your valuables!

    Kat - just keep using it!

    Knownbyname - oh yes use your grandmothers pans - if not I know a couple bloggers who would love to take them off your hands! LOL

    Outlawfarmer - my lard comes from a farm that lets the pigs free range. No additives or preservatives, it even still smells a little pork like. The stuff in the store is just not good for you at all. I would look for a place that sells pork fat you can render yourself if you can't find a local source of real 100% lard.

    Everyone - thanks for stopping and commenting - makes my day!!

  12. I couldn't cook without my cast iron! Oh my gosh, I never even thought to use it for my shepherds pie though! Genious!!!

  13. I can't tell you how happy it makes me to hear that you are using your cast iron pans on your glass top stove! The fact that the rules say "no cast iron on glass top" would be a deal breaker for me.

    We always use our cast iron pans too (aren't they great for omelette making?) on our ancient electric stove.


  14. Diana - I am spoiled with my cast iron. I would be hard up to cook without them.

    Elizabeth - I am usually a rule follower but when it comes to my cast iron pans I am a rebel!! I would rather use them now and replace the stove eventually than to not cook with my cast iron for ever.

  15. Thank you thank you thank you! I have a huge cast iron skillet and cast iron (two sided) griddle. Lately we haven't been getting along very well (although my right bicep seems to be growing from all the scrubbing). It's because I've been using vegetable oil in them.

  16. We love cast iron, too! Another way to remove stuck-on food is with coffee grounds, which in our house are usually available in abundance!

  17. 'Becca, I have never heard of that but will be trying that if it happens again! thanks.

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