Two recent developments led to my discovery of cooking with cast iron. The first was some rather horrifying reading on the carcinogenic chemical Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) used to make Teflon. Although it’s found just about everywhere (dust, drinking water, the bodies of 98% of all people), I’d prefer not to gobble it down when my old Teflon pans start getting scratched. Thankfully after a class-action suit against DuPont, its use was recently phased out of all pans.
The second is my turn from cooking basically never to almost every night. I need a pan that is easy to use. The first one I tried after tossing all my scratched-up Teflon was a stainless steel skillet. After turning it permanently a nasty brown and chiseling everything out of it even after oiling, I decided to investigate cast iron.
I looked online a bit and ended up just buying this 10″ Lodge skillet at Target for $20. It comes pre-seasonsed, meaning it’s non-stick right off the bat. The worst I can do to it is probably steaks, which leave a bit of charred crisp on the bottom. To clean, I soak it for less than 5 minutes in very hot water and everything comes right off, either with a hard plastic scraper (Lodge brand purchased from Target for $2) or Dawn soap and a regular sponge. I pop it on the stove at a medium heat immediately to dry thoroughly so it doesn’t rust. If I use soap, I’ll rub a small bit of cooking oil into it with a paper towel while still warm and – voila! Ready for next use.
You can literally use this for everything … meat, liquids, veggie stir fry … the rest of my cookware has been completely ignored since getting this other than my pasta-boiling pot.
I recently got the reversible grill/griddle, also Lodge brand from Target. I am super excited to get fancy grill lines on meat now that we no longer have an outdoor grill.
Pros: Wonderfully non-stick – try a tiny swipe of butter and scramble your eggs – not a molecule will stick to the pan! And tastes so good. Potentially adds some iron to your diet, which most of us are deficient in.
Cons: HEAVY. Tipping the pan one-handed to pour out something saucy is almost impossible. It does have a handle on each side, but they get too hot to touch so you need to use potholders. Needs occasional re-seasoning; I just did my first one after about 6 months of use – lightly oil and stick in the oven for 1 hour to bake to a hard shine. Easy!