What is it about a cast-iron skillet that makes food so good? As we were working on our new cookbook, Southern Cast Iron, I was pondering this very question. You just knew growing up that when that black beauty came out something great was happening in the kitchen.
Through the years, the iron cookware has given way to more modern non-stick versions, but all have their place in the kitchen. I don’t remember any other cookware in the kitchen when I was growing up, but I do remember the black iron skillet. Talk about crunchy cornbread…it made the crust just perfect. But that skillet was the sacred piece of cookware. Nothing could touch that baby with soaps or harsh cleansers. It was seasoned.
I got a new iron skillet as a gift once and thought “why is this silver?” Then it dawned on me why seasoned skillets are guarded. I started the seasoning process of oiling and warming. It takes years to really get good! Mine is black today after years of use, and it cooks the best country fried steak and gravy. It’s the sacred skillet.
Mom had the corn-stick pan where each piece looks like an ear of corn. There are many other great shapes and sizes. Neal and I were antiquing in Tennessee several years ago and came across a cast-iron pan that resembled a muffin pan, but the muffin cups were round, like half a tennis ball. And did I buy it? No, and I have regretted it ever since. So now that is my “thing” I am searching for.
I would love to hear your stories of cooking with cast-iron or even some great recipes you have. What is your favorite thing to cook in cast-iron?