From time to time I will write my column and make reference to cooking in a cast iron skillet and the difference I believe it makes in the flavor. I use cast iron skillets on the stove top and also in the oven all the time. Sometimes, depending on what I am cooking, I use a cast iron Dutch oven. We also use cast iron to cook over a wood fire.
Two of our favorite foods in the cast iron skillet are the Parmesan-seasoned baked potato sticks that I wrote about last week and nachos. These are really made more flavorful and healthier because they are baked and not fried and the flavor is extra tasty as they are enhanced in the hot oven. A number of people have asked me questions about cast iron so I am going to try and provide some cast iron information.
I am no expert on cast iron, I just grew up in a home where the skillets were used all the time. What I learned is that if the cast iron is seasoned properly and you learn to use a medium or medium high heat you can cook in them without using much oil.
I will admit one of my favorite childhood memories is at a friend’s house. Her family owned a poultry house in downtown Gary and every Wednesday they had fresh chicken fried in a very deep cast iron skillet. I have learned one of the parts that made this chicken so good was that it was seasoned and floured and placed in the refrigerator for several hours before frying.
Bare cast iron vessels have been used for cooking for hundreds of years. Cast iron pans were used as early as the Han Dynasty in China (206 BC to 220 AD) for salt evaporation. Cast iron cauldrons and cooking pots were treasured as kitchen items for their durability and their ability to retain heat, thus improving the quality of cooking meals.