Awesome Shit: Cast Iron Skillets
This is probably not the kind of “awesome” topic you’d expect from me, but I have to give a shout out to nature’s original non-stick cookware. Those of you who exercise cooking skills regularly more than likely have at least one, and if you have invested large amounts of your disposable income in the latest trend-tastic cookware set endorsed by some Food Network personality, you’re a retard. Sorry, but you’re really a waterhead.
I probably should qualify “retard” here. If you are an organo-macro-vegge-vegan-probiotic type (not that there’s anything wrong with that) who thinks deep frying happens in distilled, triple-filtered water, I got it, but please don’t make me eat any of it. Enjoy your twigs with free-range, non-abused, humanely-slaughtered rice. Expensive cookware that must be replaced every five to ten years is probably the best option for you. Actually, if you’re in that category you probably ought not even have a kitchen much less cookware. Please go burn disposable income in a haute restaurant and stimulate the economy. Caveat: admittedly, some good stainless pots (the straight-side, deep things used to mainly boil water and shit) are good to have around when you don’t need cast iron.
On the other hand, if you like things made out of cows, pigs and stuff that goes on four legs, know what lard is and are not afraid to use it, regularly prep a skillet for frying with butter, margerine or olive oil, and can see the benefit of having a piece of cookware that you can bequeath to your spawn in your will, cast iron is for you. Properly used and cared for, your item of cookware cast in iron will outlive you, your kids, the Zombie Apocalypse and will do equally well at performing non-stick surface tasks. The great thing – no, things – about this stuff are many…
It is non-stick. It becomes more non-stick over time with proper maintenance too. This means soap never touches it. Ever. Seriously. All that is required to clean your skillet is hot tap water and a green pad (without soap). I know of people who have decades-old cast iron that has never touched soap just like me. If you’re worried about influ-salmon-osis, pop the puppy back into the oven and heat it to 225 or so. That even helps the oil soak in better, and will kill the wee beasties you are freaked about. In fact, you should do coat it with oil and do this periodically just because. This process of building up coal-black impervious coatings on the pan is called seasoning. I have a eight-inch skillet my great-grandmother used and it actually repels water, in the entire kitchen. It’s kind of a dehumidifier.
Cast iron won’t break. Well, ok, I suppose it is possible to exert enough force to cause the pan to shatter, technically. Technically. But how awesome is it when an item of cookware can also be used not only as a weapon but as a bullet-repellent as well? I am sure there are at least one or two people who have had to tighten handles on lesser cookware. Cast iron handles don’t do that because, well, they’re cast into the pan. No screw, no sweat, all awesome.
They provide a good workout. A 12-inch skillet loaded with food is a challenge even for my wrist and arm (not that I’m bragging here but I have loaded ammo in tanks and shit and done it fast and well), so I like to think I’m burning some calories before I shovel even more down my pie hole. As some wives out there may be able to tell you, swinging one like a tennis raquet does carry the potential of shoulder damage. And if you’re rocking a cast-iron dutch oven, forget about it. If your shoulder joint can swing a cast iron item, then you, my friend, are invincible.
I’ll go ahead and reiterate that there are some kitchen functions that don’t get solved with cast iron, just as there are some woodshop challenges that cannot be overcome with a router (not many, but yeah, there are a few, like nails). However, whether you’re a hardcore foodie or a disaster of an amateur and danger to others and self with a kitchen knife, you really need at least two good cast iron skillets. At least if you’re in the latter category, you can’t break it.
Fried chicken just isn’t the same cooked in anything else.