Cast Iron Cooking
By Angie Sutton, www.momsapronstrings.com
When my great grandmother Anna moved from her farmstead to town, I inherited a cast iron skillet. I tucked it away with her hand-sewn quilts and rugs she made on her large weaving loom. Perhaps it was because I was small child or maybe it was the reality of life in a small farmhouse built in the late 1880s, but that towering loom seemed to take up most of the living room. It was so tempting to press the foot levers and pull the cranks when she wasn’t looking. Likely we rearranged the pattern on quite a few of her rugs over the years.
Quite a few years later when my grandmother Dorothy (Anna’s daughter) moved from her home to a small apartment, I inherited another cast iron skillet. This was her Sunday fried chicken making skillet. Just thinking about that chicken makes me hungry. She always paired it with mashed potatoes and corn. By some small miracle I was able to locate the storage tub housing the first skillet and put the two together.
The third skillet was added from my mother’s estate last spring. I don’t recall my mother cooking it in very often but when she did, I those meals were quite delicious. Pork chops were my favorite meal with beef stew coming in a close second.
During a recent warm day we tackled the annual spring cleaning of the storage area. Husband Jeff drug out those cast iron skillets and set forth on a mission to get them back into shape.
Cast iron is great for searing meat and roasting vegetables. The more you use cast iron cookware, the better the food tastes. Skillet breads and sweets can be prepared in your skillet as well. Bake your favorite cinnamon roll recipe or store-bought sweet roll dough for a special treat.
A few tips for cooking in a cast iron skillet:
-Preheat your skillet before you add oil or food. Use a low heat setting for about five minutes.
-Add your oil to the pan slowly and let it warm before adding the food.
-If you are searing meat, add it and let it sit without moving it long enough to form a caramelized crust. Once the crust is formed, you can flip it.
-You can move your skillet from the stovetop to a preheated oven to finish off the cooking process.
Q. How do I clean my cast iron pan?
A. It’s best to clean your pan just after you enjoy your meal. The temptation to wash it later or let it soak should be avoided.
Rinse the pan well with hot water. Add a tablespoon of coarse salt, preferably Kosher salt, and a little bit of warm water to the pan. Rub with a paper towel or a stiff bristled brush around the bottom and up the sides. This method preserves the seasoning of your pan. Avoid using dish soap or steel wool. If food bits are still stick, loosen them by boiling water in the pan and scrubbing again. Dry the pan thoroughly.
Place the pan on the stove over low heat for about two minutes to open the pores of the iron. Use a paper towel to apply a light even coat of vegetable oil. Let the pan cool and store.