As far as I’m concerned, every meal starts with an empty pan. That leaves me with three meals to cook each day (not including regular snacks for my two elementary school-age kids). For any of those meals and on any of those days, I’m always partial to facing the challenge with a Lodge Cast Iron Skillet. My relationship with my cast iron skillet wasn’t always like this. Cast iron cookware demands some intent, as well as a bit of understanding. I note without irony here that it was a gift from my wife shortly into our marriage, nearly a decade ago. I’ve grown with this pan in hand both inside and outside the kitchen, and consider it one of my all-time favorite and mainstay skillets.
I use my cast iron skillet daily on a wide variety of food, from frying bacon and baking bread to actually browning hash browns. The versatility of cast iron skillets is one of the top reasons I often reach for this pan from iconic cast iron brand Lodge, which typically sits on my stove’s back left burner.
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Lodge cast iron skillet specs, simply put
The Lodge Cast Iron Skillet is available with or without a silicone holder. While the holder is a nice added layer of protection against heat, I still use a grill glove to pick up the skillet when I’m taking it out of the oven. I’d take the savings from skipping the holder and put it towards a pair of gloves. That’s partly because this skillet is heavy: I need two hands to safely pull it out of a hot oven.
- You can use your cast iron skillet on your stovetop, in the oven and on the grill. For me, that’s one of its best aspects. Don’t tell the other grillmasters in Kansas City, Missouri (where I live), but I often use my cast iron pan to get a nice sear on a steak before finishing the steak in the oven — yes, even during the heart the summertime grilling season.
- The Lodge cast iron skillet holds heat well, which is great when you’re making brownies or cornbread. With baking, I want even heat so that everything is cooked through and the middle of my bread sets up before the crusts on the edge brown too much.
- Lodge pre-seasons your skillet with vegetable oil. This is a thin layer of oil applied to the top of the pan to prevent rust. Remember when I was talking about growing into this pan? I have had to re-season the pan a few times. Once I left the crispy bits from caramelized onions in the pan overnight after a party. Another time, I low-key stripped the seasoning making shakshuka, which is especially acidic. The good news is that a cast iron pan is forgiving, like my wife, and the process of seasoning is straightforward.
How to care for your cast iron skillets
It takes a little bit of work to look this good — for the cast iron, of course. Cast iron skillets require a very specific method of cleaning. I find the ritual of caring for a pan to be soothing as part of the rhythm of cooking. I’ve also learned to appreciate that I’m setting my future self up for success in future meals.
When I’ve finished making dinner, I put all of the food on a serving dish. After we’ve eaten and the pan is still warm, I’ll clean it with a nylon scrub brush.
I then pat dry the pan with a Swedish dishcloth. The reusable towel doesn’t leave fibers sticking to the pan and is flexible enough to clean the sides and bottom.
The last step is to place the pan back over medium-high heat to make sure it is fully dry before rubbing in a light layer of vegetable oil to maintain the non-stick surface.
Other cast iron pans to consider
A cast iron skillet is a useful pan; but there are a few more you might consider that work on your stovetop and in the oven — especially useful if you’re starting to make more of your meals at home.
Carbon steel skillets are lighter than cast iron skillets — note that carbon steel still has to be seasoned in order to avoid rusting and to create a non-stick layer on the pan. This one is great for eggs and sauteing vegetables.
When I’m braising a roast with a lot of liquid or baking bread, I use a dutch oven because of its high sides and ability to hold heat. The shape of the lid also helps keep braising liquid inside the pan. If you’re looking to make one pot meals, this is a solid investment.