We bought two cast iron skillets for camping a few years back, and I had basically relegated them to “not good enough for the kitchen”, except for cooking homemade corn tortillas. But then I got a double-burner griddle which took over tortilla duty.
During a kitchen deep-clean last week (which started with an oven window that was completely caked with gunk and useless) I did some investigating and learned that a properly seasoned and cared-for cast iron skillet can be a wonderful thing. Some cooks rank it at the top of their equipment lineup, so I wanted to see if I could get mine in good working order.
After seeing the photo of eggs in a cast iron skillet on this guide I was sold. My eggs are a disaster in anything but a nonstick omelet pan. I followed the cleaning and seasoning instructions, and though my house smelled like a deep fryer for a day, I’m really happy with the results. I’ve used it for a few things and have a new respect for the even-heating ability and how food is nicely browned and released.
One of the test recipes I made in my skillet was White Beans and Cabbage from Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson. The first step was to brown small diced potato in some oil/butter. I fully expected to find a crusted mess when I went to turn the potatoes, but the perfectly-behaved little bits effortlessly released from the skillet. The next step was lightly browning onions and white beans, and there was a tiny bit of sticking with them, but with a metal spatula they released without much trouble or damage. In addition to the nice skillet experience, this is a delicious recipe.
Another thing I tested was grilled cheese. The bits of shredded cheese fallout came right up even though they looked really cooked on the bottom of the pan, and sandwich basically skated across the surface.
To clean day-to-day, I let the skillet cool down, then it gets rinsed with water so I can scoop out any bits. Then I dry it with and lightly coat with vegetable oil for storage.