Choosing a good skillet is not an easy task and can be something very personal, but it is clear that a minimum investment is essential to achieve the best results. But yes cast or cast iron it survives the fashions and modern innovations, for a reason it will be; the so-called “traditional frying pans” are a safe bet, as long as we take good care of them.
We have seen them hundreds of times in movies and on television, always present in western movies, essential when camping in the open air.
They are pans that are passed from generation to generation due to their great resistance and versatility, but they can also cause frustration. These are the basic care and the most common mistakes to avoid if we want to get the most out of our iron skillet.
What is a cast or cast iron skillet?
They differ from mineral iron pans in their composition and method of preparation. Cast iron pans are formed from an alloy of iron-carbon and other minerals, to which the final shape is given by industrial casting; This is why they are also known as cast iron pans.
They are usually unique pieces, seamless, no detachable attached handles, no more removable or attached parts. The simplest and most recognizable follow the design of cast iron pan So iconic of American culture – in fact, it is widely used in American food restaurants as a note of authenticity – and they come in different sizes. The model is also famous skillet, very popular for the fame of the Le Creuset range in Europe.
In fact, the French house is specialized in a variant of these pans, cast iron with a vitrified layer Exterior. This gives them added value, it is easily identified with the brand and it looks more beautiful, in addition to protecting the product and helping when cooking and cleaning. As for the most basic, the Lodge’s are among the most popular in the United States.
Cast iron pans are heavy but cook all kinds of food wonderfully. They can be used over the fire of the gas cooker, in vitroceramic or induction, indoors or outdoors, in the oven or on hot coals. They heat up quickly, transmit and retain heat very well and withstand high temperatures.
Vegetables, meats, fish, tofu, legumes breads, tortillas, scrambled eggs, pancakes, stir-fries, frittatas … you can cook practically everything with them, with exceptional taste and quality texture professional. The problem? They require minimal maintenance so that they last for years and years without breaking down.
Let us remember that they are made of pure iron, they do not have any coating on the insideThey are pieces without Teflon or other non-stick substances. The non-stick properties are obtained from the material itself, following a small step of curing and care, which will also prevent oxidation.
Lodge 26.04 cm / 10.25 inches – – Round pan in pre-cured cast iron
Le Creuset Skillet Evolution in cast iron, Round, diameter 23 cm, For all heat sources, includes induction, Cherry
Before the first use: how to cure a cast iron skillet
Some manufacturers already offer their pans with an initial greasing treatment for direct use, but it is always advisable to do the first cure at home. Curing protects the pan and creates that non-stick film that will allow us to cook without problems. It is very simple and it will hardly take us time:
- Cover a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and place it on the lower level of the oven.
- Preheat the oven to 250ºC.
- Clean the pan with hot water and a little mild soap, with a soft sponge.
- Rinse and dry the pan very well with a cloth that does not leave traces of thread or lint.
- Generously grease the entire surface with vegetable, sunflower or olive oil, including the handle, potholders and the back. It’s easier with kitchen paper.
- Place the skillet upside down on a rack on the middle level of the oven.
- Bake for 1 hour.
- Turn off the oven and let it cool completely, at least 3 hours. Remove the possible remains of dirt with a kitchen paper.
From this moment we can use it. Y the more we use our iron skillet, the better results it will give us, without forgetting the basic rules to clean it.
How to clean and scrub a cast iron skillet
After cooking with it, when it is cold to the touch, it is convenient remove any solid debris of food with the help of kitchen paper, if necessary.
For the most stubborn dirt it is best wash them directly by hand and do not use the dishwasher. We can pour water while they are still hot – something that should never be done with pans that do have non-stick coatings – to rinse off the first layer of dirt.
We will not need detergent if we cover the bottom with salt and rub with a sponge; when rinsing it we will see how it should come out clean. If it doesn’t work or we don’t have as much salt on hand, they can also be scrubbed with a neutral dish soap, rubbing without fear with the softest part of a sponge that is not aggressive.
You always have to rinse them very well and dry them immediately to avoid oxidation. The most effective thing is to use the own fire of the kitchen or the oven, if we have it on. Otherwise, a good cloth or absorbent kitchen paper.
Already clean and dry, touch reapply a small layer of oil all over the surface; It does not have to be very abundant, with a well spread teaspoon with paper is enough. It is an especially important step if we have scrubbed with detergent, as the soap can eliminate the previous curing.
Frequent mistakes to avoid
Insist that good maintenance is crucial to enjoy our cast iron pans for a long time – they may even be passed on to our heirs. There are inexpensive brands, but if we wanted to invest in a more expensive model, it would be a shame if it broke down after a few years.
These are the main mistakes that are usually committed with these pans, mainly due to laziness or carelessness, and that we should always avoid:
- Not doing the first cure correctly. Typical error if the peculiarities of this material are not known; and do not skip any steps.
- Cooking using too large a heat source. These pans will allow us to spend less energy if we have a minimum of patience to wait for them to heat up, it does not make sense to use the largest fire in the kitchen or use the maximum power.
- Holding the handle without protection. It is easy to get carried away by habit, but be careful: iron burns, a lot. Have a mitten or cloth handy.
- Using sharp utensils for cooking. Iron is very resistant, but we do not want to tempt luck by stirring food with sharp knives or forks, which could in turn spoil.
- Do not clean them after each use. It is advisable to get into the routine of cleaning the pan early once we have finished using it.
- Let them soak. You should never resort to the trick of soaking the dirty container, much less with a greaseproof detergent.
- Not drying them well. Iron rusts: never forget to drain and dry thoroughly.
- Do not renew the fat layer. Over time we may be able to skip this step if we use it frequently, but it never hurts to re-grease the entire pan with oil.
- Forgetting to grease the outside. The only exception is vitrified iron pans, which do not need it.
- Put them in the dishwasher. Never again. They are always cleaned by hand.
- Save them in any way. Our kitchen utensils must also be pampered in storage: order, without stacking, with protectors between one pan and another -if we stack them-, and in a clean place, without humidity or heat sources, and without dust.
Cast or cast iron pans are one of my favorites at home and I love to use them for all kinds of recipes, especially combined the fire with the oven. Using them well they will give us many -and delicious- joys for many years, without forgetting that they look very beautiful. They can be a great gift for any hobbyist.
Olympia Mini Round Cast Iron Skillet, Commercial Cookware – 100 (Ø) mm
KICHLY Round Cast Iron Skillet with Handle, 26 cm
Le Creuset 20182265360422 Skillet / Pan / Wok, Cast Iron
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Photos | iStock – Lodge – Unsplash
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