Last time we talked to Kat, she told us about her love for cast iron skillets and the biscuits & gravy hangover cure she makes in them (yes, it’s coming). As clueless cast iron people, we needed help. And girl delivered! Take notes, people, the non-expert expert is in.
“I started using the cast iron skillet for a couple of reasons. First thing, while I was living in New York I started following a displaced Texan’s food blog called Homesick Texan and developed an obsession with southern cooking. Something about the dead of New York winter made biscuits and gravy seem like the Holy Grail and breakfast has always been my favorite meal (something I apparently inherited from my Grandmother). I embraced any excuse to go bigger and better.”
Tip 1: Hit Up A Flea Market
I love old fashioned things; it just seems more real and right. Head to your local flea market in search of some new (or not-so-new) pans. I prefer older cast iron skillets, not the “pre-seasoned” ones you find for sale new at the store. The older pans also have a beautiful smooth surface.
*Note: Don’t buy cast iron pans first thing at the flea market unless you also brought along your body builder friend. They are heavy!
Tip 2: Season Your Skillet
Rub it all over with oil (I prefer bacon grease for flavor and because it takes on high heat well). Bake it in the oven at 350 degrees for one hour and when cool, wipe it down with a paper towel and you’re good to go! It’s a natural non-stick surface.
Tip 3: Just Say No (to soap, ever)
After cooking in your skillet, “wash” your pan as soon as possible; preferably when still warm-hot. If you have any awesome drippings (i.e., fat) from whatever you cooked; you will of course want to pour them off into a jar and save them for flavoring some other dish. Wipe off any large lumps and remaining grease with a paper towel, take it to the sink and rinse with warm water. Using only a soft sponge wipe it down. If it has stubborn burned on bits use a bunch of kosher salt as an abrasive and scrub it with a sponge.
*Note: The only time to ever use soap is if you need to re-season your skillet.
Tip 4: Keep That Baby Dry; Show Some Cast Iron Love
Dry your skillet as soon as you finish washing it. If you let it sit wet or fill it with water and soak it, it will rust and lose any of it’s natural non-stickability. Bonus points for sticking it in a hot oven to sizzle off any water. The best way to improve your skillet’s non-stick-ness is to keep cooking with it! The more time you have hot oil on it, the better it gets.
Tip 5: Face The Facts
Another reason I turned to the cast iron skillet was an increased focus on health and nutrition in my life and it led me to the understanding that non stick pans are evil. They release toxic fumes and flake into your food if used on heat higher than medium or at all scratched…yech. Keep it old school, your grandma would be proud.
*Kat’s Bonus Benefits of The Cast Iron Skillet
1. It distributes heat very well
2. Imparts excellent flavor
3. Gives you a great workout