I think Cast Iron is makin’ a comeback, even though in my mtns, it never really went away. I can walk into our Aunt Theresa’s house right now and find a gazillion of all shapes and sizes hangin’ from a beautiful rack my Uncle Eddie made. It’s slim pickin’s at yardsales round here. That’s how prized they are. But in other places, where folks might not know much about em, you maybe able to score big time. Across tables, once in a blue moon, some will be peppered out and all the way across all because they sport a little rust or their famous, traditional black maybe a light grey. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with that iron. Grab em if you see em. Walmart sells them as well as Farmer brand stores. (If you’re lookin’.) Lodge is a popular brand, although, I have a few that aren’t and they work just fine. Rusted up or brand new, they need to be seasoned or fixed. And here’s how you tackle all that and some other little bits you might stumble upon along the way….
First, what’s Cast Iron good for? Well, you ain’t never had fried chicken or gravy like what we whip up in a Cast Iron. Dependin’ on how it’s Seasoned, folks fry up eggs, cook stews, beans and all kinds of goodies. My kids and I swear the best-grilled cheese you ever eat is made with a Cast Iron skillet on a wood stove. Its buttery, crispy, not soggy with a gooey and soft middle. Bacon comes out crispy and sausage nice and brown. Cornbread, biscuits, bread. The skies the limit, dependin’ on what ya got and what you want to do with it.
Most are intimidated by this but that’s just a shame. Might take a little doin’ but you won’t break a sweat. What you want to do is, lightly rub oil or lard into your Cast iron. Here, I copied these off of Southern Living….
How To Season Your Cast-Iron Skillet:
- Scrub skillet well in hot soapy water.
- Dry thoroughly.
- Spread a thin layer of melted shortening or vegetable oil over the skillet.
- Place it upside down on a middle oven rack at 375°. (Place foil on a lower rack to catch drips.)
- Bake 1 hour; let cool in the oven. (Source)
Personally, I put it upside down in the oven, but that’s just me.
How to clean?
Every soul out there who has it, has their own way of doin’ this. Some scrub out with coarse salt. Others use hot soapy water. Some yell, NO DAWN or soap that tears off the seasoning. No scrubbing things like brillo pads. No steel wool. I’ll throw soapy water on while it’s still hot. Swish it around as it boils everything off. Dump it and rinse it and then wipe a drop of oil back on. Whatever way you do it, just remember, DRY IT yourself, with a towel of paper after you’re done. Take a napkin, and rub your oil back into it. Lightly. It doesn’t have to drip grease. This is kind of like conditioning your hair. You don’t leave the conditioner on, do ya? No, you rinse, and your hair keeps what it needs. You won’t be rinsin’ your cast iron after this but you do want to work in enough lard or oil so it gets what it needs.
Why Cast iron? On a Practical Sense?
No chemicals. Lasts forever. Will most likely outlive us all– if kept properly. Heats and cooks food evenly– let your brain mellow on that one. Evenly. No Teflon to worry about, coatings wearin’ down that may not be safe to consume. It’s rough and touch and can take a lickin’. Drop a new style pan and it dents all to hell. Drop a Cast Iron, and pray the floor holds out. It’s made to last.
You can use it on the stove, on the camp-fire, on the grill, in the oven or on a wood stove. You can fry, saute, bake or whack your husband upside the head with it. Okay, so you may not want to take that last one literally. winks. The point is if the world came to an end tomorrow, chances are, the only thing that would survive are the cock roaches, my monster- in- law, and the Cast Iron. (Another joke on the Mother in Law. winks)
Seasoned right, it’s naturally nonstick. Again, this stuff is the Mac Daddy, work horse of the kitchen and you can grab it black as night or enamelled coated — I have both that I use for different things.
What if it’s rusty?
Did I cover this one? If I did. sorry, I’m multitasking. If it’s rusty, though, rework the Seasoning steps. That’s all. Rust doesn’t mean death. Again. this stuff is built to last!
Which for which?
What to cook in a Cast Iron (Black and Beautiful in its natural state) and what to cook in an enamel coated Cast Iron?
I save my Mater sauces, soups and stews for my Enamel. I fry meat, taters, even eggs, in my regular Cast Iron. I cook gravy (Southern Gravy), may fry fish, bacon, sausage and all those goodies in my regular Cast.
If things like eggs are sticking–it needs better seasoning. The Cast Iron, that is.
What the heck is this?
That lid goes to a Dutch Oven kind of Cast Iron. Those little pokey things is actually a self-baster. So when you pop that sucker in the oven or stove with, let’s say a whole chicken or roast, in it, then the steam collects to the top and those dotted-points, drips the juice and juice down on your prized meal. Now ain’t that genius?
If you bought one of these and it leaves a metallic taste in your mouth — or any cast iron for that matter– it just needs more seasoning. Wash, again with soapy water and keep seasoning. If you don’t have time to pop it in the oven, then start fryin all your sausage and bacon in it until that grease sinks into the iron and works it up. As you can see, I’m fryin’ sausage in mine. That’s fresh sausage, ya’ll. Mmmmm Mmmmm Goooooooood!!!!!
Still not sure what enamelled cast iron is? Still not sure what regular is? Below are some samples.
Regular Cast Iron
Enamel Covered Cast Iron
Any other questions hit me up!