I am in love with my cast iron skillets. Yep. I am.
There are many reasons, first and foremost because those are the pans that I remember my grandmother, grandfather and mother cooking with when I was little. I watched my Grandma cook countless meals in her various sized cast iron skillets, standing over that farmhouse stove, waiting for Grandpa to come in from the orchards. My mother always made her cornbread in a big cast iron skillet, making it a little crunchy on the outside and still soft and crumbly on the inside. Memories I cherish.
But there are also more practical reasons for choosing cast iron:
- It's inexpensive. You can find a respectable, large cast iron skillet for $20 and it will last you a lifetime if you care for it properly. Of course, you can spend more for upgraded features such as fancy handles, special sizes or shapes, enamel coating, etc. but those are just personal preferences and in no way should be viewed as essential to the success of cast iron cooking.
- It's available everywhere. From Walmart to Williams-Sonoma to the local hardware store you can find cast iron pans for sale.
- It's the original non-stick cookware, minus the scary toxins. Cast iron pans must be "seasoned", which is just a fancy way to say it must have an oily buildup on it, in order to be considered ready to use. These days, most cast irons pan can be purchased pre-seasoned. This minimal pre-seasoning will get you started but to be perfectly honest it will take a few batches of bacon or a couple additional rounds of seasoning in the oven to turn your pan into an effective non-stick tool. The good news is, it just gets better and better as the months and years go by.
- Doctors encourage the use of cast iron because it naturally adds trace amounts of iron to the food you are cooking. Don't' worry, you won't taste it.
- There is a rustic, comforting charm to a dish served straight out of a cast iron pan. And the food will stay warm longer if served straight from the pan.
That brings us to this week's Friday Recipe from Annie's Eats! I pinned this recipe for Skillet Lasagna right away because it looks easy to throw together on a busy weeknight and because it's cooked in cast iron, easy to clean up as well. The ingredients are straight forward, nothing too fancy, and taking this dish to the table straight out of the oven makes it comfort food at it's best.
What's even more brilliant, the whole dish is prepared in the skillet. One dish to clean, I like that. Naturally, you could make this dish in a regular stainless steel pan. It just won't be as easy to cleanup.
So I hope you will visit Annie's Eats and try her recipe, let me know how you like it. I'm going to give it a shot, too!
Side note: You may want to avoid cooking highly acidic foods (tomatoes, pineapples, etc) until you have a good seasoning in your cast iron pan because a) the acid can turn your overall dish to a brackish brown; b) some people can detect a metallic taste. I have never noticed these problems but my pans are well seasoned.
Besides making yummy lasagna, the only other plans I have this weekend are to go see Les Miserable. I don't go to the movies too often but I am so excited to go see this adaptation on the big screen, it's getting smashing reviews. I hope you have something fun planned for your weekend and above all, I hope you cook something yummy!