I’m currently mulling along with a non-stick pot and pan, and I’m in the market for a cast iron skillet, which I understand is much better at browning things. However, the models I see all have continuous iron handles, so you’ll burn yourself grabbing it if you forget to wear gloves. Is there a brand with cool handles for the absent-minded? And for those who’ve tried cast iron, do they live up to the hype?
AFAIK, no and hell yes. Learn to use an oven mitt and cast iron is the Perfect Cookware.
They have little sleeves that fit over the handle. Like this.
Cast iron tends to be brittle, doesn’t weld easily, and can be problematic to drill through. When you consider the work involved in attaching a handle of some other material and the likelihood of it breaking there, the relative ease of simply casting the handle into it is a far preferable design. The sleeves mentioned above solve the hot handle problem easily and inexpensively.
Depending on how long you cook, the pan may be as hot as it needs to be and the handle is still manageable. Actually, I find I don’t pick up the pans unless I’m transferring them to the oven or cleaning them. When I do pick up a hot pan, I use one of those square cloth padded thingies that are made for picking up hot pans and casserole dishes.
Once the scar tissue is thick enough, you really don’t feel it that much.
There’s always a potholder within reach.
Is that what those are called? I’ve lived alone so long, I can’t remember the last time I referred to them to another person.
Hell, they’re too heavy to lift, anyway.
‘While you’re out, would you mind picking up a new skillet? I’m a little squeamish about cooking in the one we use to kill people with.’
And the glove things are an oven mitt though I wouldn’t try catching an oven with one.
Correction to my last:
Mary: At the store, can you buy a new frying pan? I’m a little squeamish about using the one we use to kill people.
I also found a silicone handle cover at the grocery store for a dollar.
Another great thing with the cast iron skillets is they can go from the cooktop to the oven, unlike those damn nonstick crappo pans.
Someday I’ll get a stainless set to compliment the iron. My mom has a set from 1968 that she still uses!
I’ve tried about 4 times now to season my cast iron skillet and I’m just not happy with how it looks. No matter what I do, it’s a bitch to clean. I’m about this close to throwing in the towel and cleaning it with detergent like everything else, however, I am amazed at how well it cooks things so if you can get a better handle on the seasoning than me, you should be great.
Cast iron skillets (and dutch ovens for that matter) are great! And the fact that they have cast iron handles means you can use them in the oven too. Great for searing meats and then finishing them in the oven. Or for roasting meats and vegetables in the oven. Skillet cornbread is good too. If you’re just cooking bacon or eggs or searing a steak or something quick like that the food is often done before the handles get too hot to touch. Potholders work fine for stovetop cooking when the handles do get hot but I’d definitely use oven mitts for taking skillets or dutch ovens out of the oven. It’s too easy to touch something hot with your bare skin if you’re only using pot holders.
I got a cast iron dutch oven over the holidays and love it. They’re great for soups and stews, and I just learned how to make great-looking and great-tasting no-knead bread with it. Here’s the recipe, which is quite simple, and a video featuring New York Times food writer Mark Bittman showing how easy it is to make, should you or anyone else want to make some. It’s great stuff and costs only about 50 cents a loaf. Here are some photos showing how they turn out.
And on preview, Inner Stickler, here are instructions from Lodge Mfg. on how to reseason cast iron cookware. I’ve always had good luck following Lodge’s advice.
Btw, athelas, if you buy Lodge cast iron cookware, it comes pre-seasoned and is a snap to clean.
My wife ordered fajitas at Chili’s and stole the handle from the skillet.
You’ll only forget once. You’ll also only grab it with a wet towel once. After that, it’s smooth sailing.
It took me a while to learn how to season the pans, and I started over a couple of times. When you say you’re not happy with the looks, what do you mean? When I started cooking on cast iron (close to 20 years ago) I’d get burnt-on bits that made food stick. By now I’ve learned to let the meat release itself. That is, don’t turn it too early. It will self-release when it’s ready. Depending on what I cook, I’ll either wash the pan with hot water, or else I’ll put some water in it and boil it for a few minutes. Then I’ll wash under hot water and use a scrub brush to get rid of any knobbly stuck bits. They come off easy, so I don’t scrub off the good seasoning. (I’ve also used the kosher salt and cornmeal thing, but a quick brush is easier.) Afterward, I’ll heat it up on the stove to dry the water, and give it a wipe with Crisco. I heat the Crisco until it starts to smoke a bit. This has worked well over the years, and leaves a nice non-stick surface.
FWIW, the pan I normally use is by Lodge, but it’s an older one (obviously) without the Lodge logo and before they pre-seasoned their pans. My other 10-1/4" skillet is a Chinese one of the same vintage. The Chinese one has a smoother surface; concentric circles from milling, as opposed to the nubby surface from the casting. Since I usually only use one cast-iron pan at a time, it doesn’t get much use. Good pan, but the old Lodge is the one I use all the time.
I bought a Chinese cast-iron fajita pan for $2 at a yard sale. The previous owner seasoned it well, and it’s perfect for grilled cheese sandwiches. Nice and slidey. My mom gave me an ancient 6" Griswold skillet. Perfect seasoning, but it doesn’t get used much. If I want a small pan for eggs, a Teflon pan is easier to grab. Or else I’ll cook the eggs in the larger cast iron skillet after cooking bacon in it. I do have some pre-seasoned Lodge pans. The chicken fryer gets used for frying chicken. It has a basting lid, which also fits the Dutch oven – which I haven’t had an opportunity to use, even though I’ve had it a couple of years now. The 12" skillet is perfect for making pizza.
Anyway, don’t give up. Let your meat self-release. Be sure to use oil when cooking meats that need it, and for veg. If it’s really crusty after cooking, deglaze it by boiling some water in it. Give it a once-over with a dish brush, under hot, hot water, and wipe it with oil (Crisco) afterward and heat it up. It sounds like a ‘process’, but it’s really quick and easy.