Over the years, I’ve cooked with Teflon coated pans and stainless steel pans, but never really considered cast iron. My new experience with cast iron started when I was searching for an easy lasagna recipe. I stumbled upon the Pioneer Woman’s The Best Lasagna Ever and I was sold. The recipe was easy and had rave reviews. This was the lasagna recipe that I was going to make for Christmas dinner.
Since I had the Pioneer Woman on my mind, I wanted to check out her line of products at Walmart. (I noticed she cooked the ground beef and sausage for her lasagna in a cast iron skillet.) She has a Pioneer Woman Skillet for sale for about $17. That’s pretty cheap. So I bought one!
Five Benefits of Cooking with Cast Iron
So, what is so great about cast iron? Well, I’ve discovered a few things! Here are five benefits to cooking with cast iron.
- When cooking with cast iron, the food absorbs the iron directly from the pan! The food actually becomes richer in iron after cooking with cast iron.
- When “seasoned” iron is naturally non-stick and a much healthy alternative to Teflon coated pans.
- Cast iron is less expensive than other modern cookware. I paid under $20 for my Pioneer Woman 12″ cast iron skillet.
- Cast iron pans are versatile. They can go from the cook top and then directly to the oven.
- Cast iron is very durable! When well cared for, cast iron pans will last for years and years.
How to Season a Cast Iron Skillet
When a cast iron pan is seasoned, it is coated with oil and then “baked”. This creates the non-stick surface. The skillet seasoning helps to prevent rust and to maintain the non-stick surface. If any rust forms on your cast iron pan, it needs to be re-seasoned.
- Start with a clean, dry pan.
- With a clean cloth or paper towel, apply a film of fat all over the pan’s interior and exterior. (Some recommend animal fat, others say vegetable oil. I used vegetable oil.)
- Place the pan in a 350˚ oven with a sheet pan or foil underneath to catch drips.
- Let “bake” for one hour, shut the oven off and then cool the pan completely in the oven.
Cleaning Cast Iron
I’ve learned the hard way, that you should not clean cast iron with soap and water. The detergents just strip that nice seasoned surface off of the pan, and can leave the surface rusty. Cast iron can be rinsed with water, just do not soak the pan(s).
According to Dawn Perry, Bon Appetit senior food editor, one of the best ways to clean cast iron is to rub it with kosher salt and a kitchen towel, while it is still warm and then wipe it down with fat – flaxseed oil or lard.
Have you ever cooked using cast iron pans?
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