Try and True Kitchen Tool: Cast Iron Skillet


Guest Chef Lisa Lewey Shields shares tips and recipes for cast iron skillets.

Cooking and seasoning with oils – not sprays
Dry cupboards
Gentle cleaning
Cleaning with kosher salt
Acidic foods
Soaps and harsh abrasives

Cast Iron is right at home on or in any heat source, indoors or out, except the microwave.
All new cookware should be rinsed and dried promptly before your first use.
Use any utensils you like, even metal. There is no chemical coating to damage.
Always lift cookware on smooth-top stoves. Sliding anything can scratch the surface.
Handles can get hot, so protect your hands by using a handle holder or hot pad.
Cast iron performs best when heated and cooled gradually, so give it a few minutes to pre-heat.
Cast iron has superior heat retention, so use a lower heat setting to prevent food from sticking.
Wash cast iron by hand with a nylon bristle scrub brush. If needed, use a pan scraper for stuck on bits.
For extra sticky situations, simmer a little water for 1 minute, then use the scraper after cooled.
Dry promptly and thoroughly with a lint-free cloth or paper towel.
Rub with a very light layer of cooking oil, preferably while the cookware is still warm.
Hang or store cookware in a dry place.
Occasionally, you may notice some dark residue on your towel when cleaning. This is perfectly safe-it’s just the seasoning reacting to foods that may be slightly acidic or alkaline. It will disappear with regular use and care. 
Soap isn’t necessary, but if you like, a little mild detergent is fine.
Seasoning is simply oil baked onto the iron, giving it a natural, easy-release finish.
Any food-safe cooking oil/shortening will work for maintaining your cookware. or canola oil, 
Seasoning is an ongoing process that improves the more you cook.
With some foods, new cookware might require a little extra oil or butter the first few uses.
Acidic or alkaline foods like tomatoes and some beans should only be cooked once seasoning is well-established.
Dishwashers, metal scouring pads, and harsh detergents will harm the seasoning.
Rust happens, and it is easy to fix.
Wash the cookware with hot, soapy water and a stiff brush. (It is okay to use soap this time because you are preparing to re-season the cookware).
Rinse and dry completely.
Apply a very thin, even coating of MELTED solid vegetable shortening (or cooking oil of your choice) to the cookware inside and out. Too much oil will result in a sticky finish.
Place aluminum foil on the bottom rack of the oven (not directly on bottom) to catch any drips.
Set oven temperature to 350 – 400 degrees F.
Place cookware upside down on the top rack of the oven to prevent pooling.
Bake the cookware for at least one hour. After the hour, turn the oven off and let the cookware cool in the oven.
Store the cookware uncovered, in a dry place when cooled.
Repeat as necessary.
FYI  **  Traditionally lard was used to season cast iron, and while that is still okay, it is not recommend unless you frequently use your cookware. If the cookware is stored for too long, lard and other animal based fats can go rancid. 
If the seasoning on your pan is sticky, this is a sign of excess oil building up and not fully converting to seasoning. To remedy this, place the cookware in the oven, upside down on the top rack and bake at 400 degrees for 1 hour. Allow to cool and repeat if necessary.
More info and recipes :   Also Lodge Cast Iron Nation Cookbook
Cast Iron Classics & Southern Cast Iron magazines and Mary Jane Farms Magazine
Grilled Smore’s Sandwiches –  Cast Iron Classics
6 Tablespoons unsalted Butter
12 slices bread (sourdough or brioche) 
1 cup + 2 Tbls chocolate-hazelnut spread
1 cup + 2 Tbls marshmallow cream
1½ tsp kosher salt
Preheat a cast iron skillet over med heat.
Butter 1 side of each bread slice.  On unbuttered bread side spread 3 Tbls of chocolate spread.  On unbuttered side of another bread slice, spread 3 Tbls marshmallow cream.  Press slices together, buttered side out.  Repeat with remaining bread.
Cook until GBD… golden brown and delicious and all ingredients are melted.  About 3 mins per side.  Sprinkle each sandwich with ¼ tsp of salt.  Serve Warm.
Coconut – Pecan Pie Wedges
½ package refrig pie crusts – 1 sheet
2 large eggs
½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup light corn syrup
¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
½ tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup chopped pecans
½ cup sweetened flaked coconut
Preheat oven to 350°
On a lightly floured surface, roll pie crust in a 12 inch circle.  Using a knife, cut dough into 8 even triangles.  Press triangles into bottom and up sides of a 9 inch cast-iron wedge pan.  Crimp edges as desired.
In a medium bowl, stir together eggs, brown sugar, corn syrup, melted butter, vanilla, salt, and cinnamon until combined.  Stir in pecans and coconut.  Divide batter evenly among wedges.  
Bake until crust is GBD… golden brown and delicious and centers are set, appox 30 mins.  Let cool in pan 30 mins.  Serve warm or at room temp.
The Book of Griswold & Wagner by David G. Smith and Chuck Wafford
Facebook – Cast Iron Cooking group – admin by Eric Walker
Prosciutto and Polenta Stuffed Mushrooms –  Mary Jane Farms Magazine
36 button mushrooms  (
4 oz prosciutto diced ( I tweaked with sausage)
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
2 garlic cloves, minced (2t)
2/3 cup chicken broth
2 Tbsp polenta  (Tweak it with panko crumbs)
1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
¼ cup asiago cheese
¼ cup fresh parsley minced
Preheat oven to 350°
Remove stems from mushrooms and place tops upside down on 10 or 12 inch cast iron griddle pan or skillet.  Reserve the stems to use in another recipe.  
In a large skillet over medium heat, cook prosciutto or sausage for 5 mins, stirring frequently.  Add bell pepper and garlic.  Stirring frequently, cook an additional 3-5 mins until peppers are tender-crisp.
Add chicken broth and bring to a simmer.  Add polenta, mix well and cover. Continue to simmer for 5-8 mins, until polenta is cooked.  Remove from heat.
Divide meat mixture among mushrooms.
In a small bowl, combine cheeses and parsley.  Sprinkle over the tops of mushrooms and bake for 18-20 mins until mushrooms are tender.
**Don’t like mushrooms ??  Tweak it with small size white or red onions…. Will have to adjust baking time to 20 mins with sausage mixture and then an additional 15-20 mins with polenta or panko and cheese mixture until onions are tender and cooked.
Spinach, Tomato, and Bacon Frittata – Lodge cast Iron Nation Cookbook
Serves 6-8
Non Stick Cooking Spray
1 pound sliced bacon
4 oz. baby spinach  (I tweaked with cooked greens)
¼ cup halved cherry tomatoes (I tweaked with diced romas)
15 med eggs  (I used 12 large)
1 TBL kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 cups grated cheese of your choice
Preheat oven to 350°.
Coat 9 or 10 “ cast iron skillet with cooking spray.  Set aside.
In a deep 12 inch skillet fry bacon over med heat until crisp.  Remove and drain on paper towels.  Pour off bacon drippings except for  1-2 Tbls.  
Add the spinach and tomatoes and cook over medium heat, stirring a few times until spinach wilts and the tomatoes heat through.
In a large bowl, scramble the eggs and season with the S&P.  Pour into prepared skillet.  
Transfer the spinach and tomatoes to the prepared skillet.  
Evenly sprinkle the cheese over the top.  Crumble the bacon and sprinkle over the cheese.
Bake the frittata until the center is set.  25-30 mins.  Let rest on top of the stove for 10 mins before cutting into wedges to serve.  

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