Cast iron has made a resurgence recently. As a friend and I were discussing it she mentioned she did not have a cast iron skillet but was interested in purchasing one. We were especially interested because King Arthur Flour’s Recipe of the Year is a pizza made in a cast iron skillet!
Cast iron provides a nonstick surface that’s free of synthetic chemicals and requires less oil. It has great heat retention and provides superior browning. It is the only cookware you can buy that can actually improve with age!
As we headed out in search of a new cast iron skillet we found several options on the market. Neither enameled nor traditional is “best”. A lot depends on personal preference. Some people prefer to go to garage sales or auctions to find one that has been well used. The new high-quality cast iron you find on the market however still provides excellent nonstick surfaces that also only get better with use.
Cast iron skillets work well on either gas or electric stove tops and of course in the oven. If you have an electric stove, it may take a little longer to achieve the same results since the cast iron is slightly slower to heat on an electric heating element. My friend has an electric glass top stove. Cast iron will still work successfully on that but she is going to need to take extra care when moving it so it doesn’t scratch the glass top.
One drawback of cast iron can be it’s weight. We found skillets weighing anywhere from 6 and 1/2 pounds to 9 pounds. The really thick pans take longer to heat and could potentially get too hot making it difficult to brown food evenly. Cast iron skillets also do not cook as evenly until the cooking temperature is reached. Some people work around this by preheating the pan in the oven or on top of the stove.
Once you have purchased your cast iron skillet remember it needs to be seasoned to make cleaning easier and prevent sticking. Enjoy cooking with cast iron!
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