For a housewarming gift, Mimi (my grandmother) gave me a treasure – her flat iron skillet. I toast pound cake and bread with it, roast pecans, bake biscuits and cookies, practically using this piece daily…if not multiple time daily. Since it was hers, it came perfectly seasoned and revving up ready to go! Mrs. Mary (my “brown sugar” grandmother figure) swears by them and any good cook worth their butter has at least one…well seasoned and black.
These vessels of culinary jubilee are not only noteworthy in functionality but also for their classic position in Southern Kitchens. Part of that position is the major effectiveness of iron. Like copper and stainless steel, this metal is phenomenal in the kitchen. The other component to their success – seasoning.
A well seasoned skillet can be a cook’s best tool. Seasoning does take some time but is easily accomplished. Some stores carry “already seasoned” cast iron pieces and those can be good starters.
Tips on seasoning…
- Crisco, lard, and oil are the best for seasoning your skillets and pots.
- Wipe down every inch of the iron ware with the Crisco or lard.
- Place some foil on the bottom to catch any “drippin’s.”
- Situate your skillet upside down in a 350-400 degree oven for about an hour or so.
- Turn the pot back to “right side up” and repeat the process.
Cooking with the pieces also adds seasoning…Oil for temperature and butter for taste…a cardinal rule for cooking. Cornbread is a great stand by for your skillet repertoire. Some of the best steaks you’ll ever eat have been and will be prepared and served from your cast iron. Pineapple upside down cake and cobblers are excellent in these skillets. And of course - fried chicken.
Check out flea markets, estate sales, and antique shops for cast iron…I found one of my favorite pieces of my collection in an antique shop at home…she’s a beauty! Expect to pay a bit for a good old piece but an investment nonetheless. If your cast iron has a French accent then it’s called Le Cruset! Add some cast iron to your cookware collection and get to cookin’!