Today's Grommet is brought to us by Katie Workman of Cookstr.com, an ambitious new site dedicated to sharing great recipes from chefs and cookbook authors. Enjoy Katie's post on using her favorite cast iron skillet (yes, the kind your grandmother used, but with a preseasoned twist). And of course, Katie has offered a few incredible recipes to use with your skillet. Bon appetit!
by Katie Workman of Cookstr.com
Cast iron pans are great. The only problem is seasoning them - you have to scrub them (and if it's an old pan, wow, it's hard to get them really clean), then rub them all over with some sort of fat, then bake them in the oven, and only then are you ready to go.
That's why I love the Lodge Preseasoned cast iron skillets. Lodge is the only domestic maker of cast iron pans, and they have been family owned and run since 1896, in South Pittsburgh Tennessee. They are the cast iron pan experts. Which is why they got really smart in 2002 and created a pan that gives cooks all of the benefits of cast irons, and none of the hassle. They developed a proprietary preseasoning system, so when you get the pan home, a rinse, a dry, and you're ready to go.
What's so great about cast iron, anyway? Lots. You can easily transfer food from stovetop to oven, no problem. It has incredible, even heat distribution, and maintains a very steady temperature. It sears and browns like nobody's business, and it has excellent natural non-stick properties (no teflon worries). And it will last forever. Now, that's a pan.
To clean the pan after use, rinse with hot water, and dry thoroughly. Don't use soap, and NEVER wash in dishwasher. Every once in a while, you can give it a wipe with a paper towel covered in oil, but the act of cooking of over time will keep your cast iron pan naturally seasoned.
And always use an oven mitt when removing pan from stovetop. Handles become very hot. A good tip is to leave a dishtowel or pot holder draped over the handle once you remove the pan from the oven to prevent yourself from absent-mindedly grabbing the handle with your bare hand. That's a lesson you don't want to learn the hard way!
Here are some recipes that I love to make in a cast iron skillet:
Cornbread by Suzanne Goin
This is the cornbread we made in the video. Tender, rich, and melting that las little bit of butter in the cast iron skillet before you pour the batter in creates the most unbelievable shortbread-like crust.
Tortilla Espanola by Mario Batali
Tortilla española is essentially the national dish of Spain. It's like a frittata, and can be eaten hot, room temperature cold, any any time of the day.
Maryland Panfried Chicken by John Shields
Panfried chicken is one of the best, most crowd-pleasing dish ever. You brown the chicken in very hot oil, then cover the pan and reduce the heat to steam the chicken; this keeps the meat moist while producing a crisp coating. Serve this with buttery mashed potatoes, and something sauteed and green.
Classic Grilled Cheese by Nancy Silverton
If you've never had a grilled cheese sandwich made in a cast iron skillet, you've yet to eat the best grilled cheese sandwich of your life.
Caramelized Onions and Blue Cheese Burgers by Sally Sampson
The onions caramelize beautifully in the pan, and the burgers get a perfect sear.
Peach Cobbler by Christopher Idone
Cast iron and cobblers were meant for each other. And we're heading into the height of peach season, so take advantage!