The following is a great tale… One with twists and turns, and wonderful things not to burn!
It is a story of a man and his pan. And this man’s pan is named is cast-iron; Or “Cassie” for short.
Since my first use of a cast-iron skillet, I was enthralled with the possibilities it provided. The first thing I remember saying was, “Hold up… So you’re telling me, this pan will get hot enough, without the oil burning, to a point where I can properly cook my hand-cut fries?”
Yes, young Dominic, yes.
Since the 1770’s, cast iron has been used for a multitude of human engineering enterprises. From the Iron Bridge to the Shrewsbury Canal, to the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, then onto the Manchester Railway, this absolute beauty of a cooking apparatus lands plumply in our kitchens in the use of a pan, or skillet.
And thank the one-true-cylon-god, because without it, I would be lost in burger cooking purggggggaaaatttttorrrrryyyy!
Cast-iron is the end-all, be-all for cooking pans on the planet Earth. Made from liquidated-iron that has been poured into a mold, Cassie remains as the most indestructible cooking utensil you will find in your kitchen (that’s not to say you won’t damage some other part of your kitchen by dropping it…).
And if that isn’t enough, the heat-retention and heat-distribution of Cassie is second to none! Meaning, instead of flipping your chicken and saying to yourself, ‘Damn, it’s only cooked on the lower portion’, you get to say to yourself, ‘Whoopie! This chicken is fully, and most importantly, evenly cooked! And in half the time!’, due to how quickly and efficiently iron distributes heat along it’s surfaces.
My favorite part of Cassie: The frying. Due to the copper, titanium, and vanadium that is added in during the process of creation, the skillet is able to endure boiling points well above the norm. Thus, with the use of proper oil (peanut) when frying, one is able to make a most delectable meal that tastes similar to one you would receive from your Nana back East.
Take a look at this chicken piccata (recipe by Giada), fried potato crisps, and grilled asparagus, all cooked within Cassie.
Or take a look at these sweet potato crisps and grilled onions, both being cooked concurrently in Cassie.
These are just a few of the many diverse dishes that one can create using Cassie.
Now that you are undoubtedly sold on buying/using a cast-iron skillet, I’m going to give you my tips to keeping a successful Cassie around:
1. When purchasing a cast-iron skillet, think about what dishes you may be using it for; this will determine what size you should buy. My recommendation, is going with a 12-inch or above (more space to move around, and/or cooking room).
2. Also while purchasing your Cassie, check to see if it has been pre-seasoned. In my experience, Cassie is generally sold pre-seasoned more often then not; However, if you find yourself with a unseasoned skillet, fear not my friend, and just follow this quick manual…
2a. All you have to do, is first softly scrub the skillet with a gentle sponge and warm water. Be sure not to use any types of detergents, for this will deteriorate the top layer over time. After drying the skillet, layer the surface with olive oil, lard, or most effectively with vegetable shortening (all found at your local market). Now, with your oven preheated to 350 degrees, let the skillet bake for two hours (during your gym time) to coat. Repeat the coating step an additional two times, and you’re good to go!
3. The more you use Cassie, the more flavors are retained in the surface layer. This adds wonderful, full-flavor to whatever dish you may be preparing (did I mention that cooking with Cassie is phenomenal for your daily iron intake?!)
4. While pre-heating the skillet for use, make sure to slowly raise the temperature on the burner, as a way to further reduce any warping or cracking (you don’t want the inside of the pan at 400˚, while the outer edges of the pan are at 100˚). And never, in any pan for that matter, put cold water into it after use. Cleaning should be down with warm water and a soft sponge (never soap, for it will break down the seasoning-structure).
5. Once every two weeks, I suggest rubbing in a quick layer of olive oil, to maintain the stability and sturdiness of the skillet.
With these simple steps, even you will be able to keep Cassie around long enough to last generations (no hyperbole included)!
Thus, I’ll leave you with this, “With the great Cassie, comes great Food, and to the best of your ability, you must use that Food to satiate the bellies around you!”
If you have any other inquiries into why Cassie is the best, please share below in the comment section, and I would love to chat!
Hanging up the phone,