Saturday, January 1, 2011

Things My Mother Should've Taught Me - Cast Iron Skillet

I pray that my mom doesn't read this and feel hurt. The title is merely that, a title. It simply reflects that my generation (and generations after me), who had working mothers instead of "Susie Homemaker" missed out on some of those genuine home-making pearls of wisdom. My grandmothers are both gone and Mom admits that she is no "domestic goddess" so in some ways, I'm left to fend for myself.

In this case, we're talking about a cast iron skillet. I have vivid memories of my grandmother's iron skillet sitting on the back-burner of her stove always. My darling husband (who also has childhood memories of an iron skillet sitting on the stove), knowing that I'm trying to learn to be a bit more domestic than my mother, brought home a rusty old iron skillet. Well, he brought home several iron items, some have yet to be prepared, but also included is the cornbread pan with the corn-shaped cups for the cornbread.

So far my attempts at cornbread have been a total loss, so I thought I would take you on this journey with me so that maybe together, we can master the art of the iron cookware.

When I got these pans, they were very rusty. So my beloved took them to his shop and cleaned them up with a wire brush. Then, he gave me advice on how to "season" my pans. I will not share his advice because it did NOT turn out well. I will simply warn you. Do not use cooking spray, using cooking spray will result in your pans feeling like the sticky side of duct tape. I'm just sayin.

The reason you season your pans is so that stuff doesn't stick to them. It's pretty much natural non-stick cookware, instead of Teflon or whatever the newest thing is that they say is poisoning us. It also prevents rust and makes your pan easy-breezy to clean.

So, I have researched old cookbooks, the internet and my friends' brains and I'm trying options. The option I am using today is vegetable oil. Why am I trying vegetable oil? Because most of us don't keep stocks of lard in our kitchen anymore but I can bet that most of you have a bottle of Crisco vegetable, canola or corn oil in your pantry. So, to season your cast iron cookware, first clean it real well with an SOS pad. This will remove any leftover grime, oil and debris from a used skillet and the factory coating from a new skillet. Then, place some oil on a paper towel. Please, please, please, don't pour it straight in the pan, you don't need that much, I promise. Oh and don't forget to follow all of these steps with the lid as well. Lightly, very lightly, rub oil all over the inside, outside and handle of your pan. Then take a clean, soft towel and wipe the oil off so that your pan looks dry.

At this point, I would recommend taking the battery out of your smoke detector because if it's like mine, it's going to get angry. Now, you want to put aluminum foil all the way across the bottom oven rack, to catch any drips. Then set your pan upside down and lid (handle up) on the upper rack. Turn the oven on to 500 and once it's heated to temperature, let them pan stay in the oven for 30 minutes. This is why we turned off the alarm, it will smoke a little and we don't want to be frantically climbing on a chair trying to shut the darn thing up. After it has warmed for 30 minutes at 500, turn the oven off and leave the pan in the oven to cool. Do this 3-4 more times to build a good coating on your pan.

I'm gonna give this a try and see how it turns out. I will let you know the results. If it works we will move on to the next and caring for our iron cookware, then cooking with iron cookware.

I hope that you will enjoy this as much as me! Have a wonderful day and a happy, blessed New Year!!


Colleen said...

I would love an cast iron skillet like my grandma had. The only problem is that my smoke detector has an unmovable battery. Not sure I want to listen to it going off for a long time, especially since I have 3 of them.

Kaci Lusk said...


Mine didn't smoke that bad this time and did not set off my VERY sensitive smoke detector. Last time, with the Pam, it did. But with the oil it didn't. You might give it a shot. I will post more soon and you can decide. I just love my skillet. For the first time in my life I made some decent friend potatoes. They weren't burnt on the outside and they were cooked on the inside. I was soooo happy!!!