I made some scrambled eggs this morning, and
realized that I was using what I think may be the coolest piece of gear
in my kitchen: a cast-iron pan.
Yep—that one. The one my mom gave me when I got
my first kitchen. The one I’ve carried from place to place, despite how
much it weighs. The one that’s more non-stick than the special one I
bought for an untold sum of money.
You have that pan, too, don’t you?
That’s because they’re amazing. Heavy enough to
evenly hold the heat, and if you ‘season’ it properly, just so easy to
take care of. I make eggs in mine, use it to bake scones, toast garlic,
and heat up tortillas. Never leaves the stovetop.
They’ve got one problem, though—and I’ve already
sort of mentioned it: Seasoning. I’m not sure, outside of baking bread,
that there’s anything more mysterious that ‘seasoning’ a cast iron pan.
There are always dire warnings from friends to worry about—and the
instructions sometimes can be a bit tricky.
So, I’m going to tell you what I do. If it’s not
what you do, then let me know! There’s more than one way to season a
pan—so add to the mix.
Basically, I just heat it up on the stovetop,
nice and hot. Then I pour in a teaspoon or so of oil, and wipe it
around with a*thick* towel (folded paper or clean cloth, either one).
Let it cool, then repeat 2 or 3 times. You just need to do that every
once in a while (which why it’s so easy) as you use the pan, and it
just gets better with use.
If you don’t have a cast iron pan, you might
wonder why I’m going on about them. Well, it’s because of how well they
retain heat. See, when you pan-fry something in them, it stays hot! You
know this—what happens when you put frozen tortellini in boiling water?
Yep—it cools down and takes forever to come back to a boil. A thick pan
like cast iron will drop less in temperature when the food’s added in.
Okay—cleaning is another issue. Some people are
adamant that you should never use soap on a well-seasoned pan. Others,
I know, have accidentally put them through the dishwasher (sorry Mom!),
with very little ill effect. I typically don’t use any soap in
mine—that’s the advantage of seasoning it well—but if it gets
particularly dirty, I’m willing to use soap. What about you?