Cast Iron Cooking For Dummies
Disclosure: There are some affiliate links below, but I won’t put anything on this page that I haven’t verified and/or personally used.
First, I know you’re not a dummy, but I’m a sucker for cute title; but I digress. Cast Iron cooking has long been considered a professional cooking technique, reserved for chefs or REALLY good home cooks, but I’m here to dispel this myth. Cast iron cooking is not only easy but a delicious way to cook, because you can literally cook ANYTHING in cast iron- I sh*t you not- anything.
One of the best things about cast iron cooking is that it can be done on the stovetop AND in the oven (more on this process later) which makes cast iron a double duty utensil. One caveat about cast iron skillets is that they are heavy, like really heavy. Like, you’ll probably need two hands, kind of heavy, but a cast iron skillet is worth its weight in gold.
Which Cast Iron Skillet to Buy
The cast iron skillet you choose to buy need not be expensive, which is another myth I’m here to dispel about cast iron cookery. Sure you can spend a fortune on a cast iron skillet, but it’s cast iron there’s not a lot of variation from brand to brand. REMEMBER this is pan that can- and will- take a beating and you need not be precious with it.
My favourite brand of cast iron is LODGE, they are pre-seasoned which means you don’t have to do an inaugural season (read below for more on seasoning a pan); LODGE is also the brand I use at work and at home!
NOTE if your frame is diminutive, you have two options, lift weights to accommodate your newly acquired HEAVY cast iron skillet or get a lighter size; but note that getting a smaller size means less versatility with what you can prepare.
How To Season a Cast Iron Pan
Seasoning a cast iron skillet is like the boogeyman, everyone is scared of it, but it’s not scary at all. Layman’s terms, seasoning a cast iron skillet is rubbing it down with vegetable oil and baking it in the oven, which acts as a protector. It doesn’t need to be done every time you cook, unless you cook something aggressive and the pan NEEDS to be washed, most often you can just wipe out the cast iron pan with a paper towel or cloth. Easy to clean is always a bonus.
Cast Iron Cooking For Beginners
One of the things I tell people about cooking and meal planning is to walk before you run, but in the case of cast iron, jump in head first. Seriously babes, just go for it!
Just a quick reminder, season your cast iron pan BEFORE you start cooking with it.
High Heat Cooking
I’ve long been accused of loving high heat cooking, and so does a cast iron pan. If you cook in a cast iron skillet that isn’t hot, whatever you are cooking will stick unrelentingly, which will greatly mess with your esthetic- as a food blogger this matters to me lol.
As you are using high heat cooking methods, you’ll want to employ high heat cooking oils, like coconut, grapeseed, vegetable (controversial for some, but bears a high smoke point) or lard.
Cast iron lends itself PERFECTLY to shallow or deep frying because it conducts heats so well. Foods that are best reserved for another pan are eggs and SUPER delicate fish, everything else is fair game!
Cast Iron Goes Both Ways
Cast iron is a material that conducts heat well, so it lends itself to both stove-top and oven cooking. I reiterate, DOUBLE DUTY FOR THE WIN.
The method to cooking with cast iron on the stovetop is HEAT, do not add the cooking oil until the pan feels hot, because the oil will be the benchmark of the pan’s readiness. If the butter sizzles, pan’s ready. Oil slides across the pan with easy, pan’s ready. Oil is a tool you can use in cast iron cooking!
Stove-top to oven cooking means that stove-top portion is to create a crust of some kind, so to this point the stove-top portion is short, because the oven portion is meant to complete the cooking. This is the method I often employ when I’m cooking with cast iron, because stove top cast iron cooking is perfect for creating a beautiful crust, and because cast iron conducts heat so well, when I put it in the oven I can trust that whatever I’m cooking will come out great!
Easy Cast Iron Recipes
The following two recipes are E-A-S-Y, because it’s always best to start with easy until you get your sea legs with the whole cast iron thing.
Roasting chicken in cast iron employs the two-part stove-top/oven method.
Season a whole chicken. Place 1 full lemon (sliced) into the cavity.
Rub with melted butter OR place knobs of butter underneath the chicken skin.
Heat butter and olive oil in a cast iron pan
Add the chicken, wing side down.
Cook for 5-7 minutes.
Place the cast iron pan in an oven preheated to broil (500F)
Once the chicken has been in the oven for 2 minutes, turn the oven down to 375F.
Cook for 90-95 minutes or until juices run clear or temperature reads 155-160.
Cover with foil for 15 minutes.
Whole Roasted Cauliflower
Aka the EASIEST cauliflower recipe you’ll ever make.
Wash and dry a whole cauliflower.
Remove the leaves.
Cut stem so the cauliflower lays flat.
Combine olive oil, chopped herbs, salt, pepper and maple syrup.
Rub the mix all over the cauliflower.
Lay flat in a cast iron pan.
Roast in an oven preheated to 390F for 20 minutes OR until a knife pierces the cauliflower easily.
I suggest you acquire varying sizes of cast iron, which means you can prepare many different items, at one time, using cast iron; because cast iron roasted chicken and cast iron roasted cauliflower pair VERY nicely together!
Are you feeling ready to cook with cast iron? It’s easy, it’s delicious and now you’re ready to do it!
If you have any cast iron cooking tips or questions, please share below!