With more and more cookware materials hitting the market, and many of them being nonstick, it's easy to forget about more traditional cookware options like the cast iron pan. If you're searching for a pan that is ideal for grilling veggies, steaks and even making delicious desserts, then cast iron is worth the investment.
Whether you're looking to purchase a cast iron skillet or want to discover how you can get the most out of your current one, the Bob's Red Mill experts are here to help. Continue reading for a comprehensive guide explaining everything there is to know about cast iron pans and five unique ways you can use it.
Why Purchase a Cast Iron Skillet?
Cast iron skillets are excellent at retaining heat, and because of this, they are a highly versatile cookware option. The ideal cooking surface for browning and searing meats, cast iron can be used for far more than just dinner recipes. A cast iron skillet can be used to brown, saute, bake, caramelize and sear various foods. Not to mention they're a stylish way to serve up your recipes. When using a cast iron skillet, there are a few tips you should know to ensure that your recipes are a success. Continue reading to learn how to make the most out of your cast iron cookware.
Start with Seasoning
If you purchase a brand new cast iron skillet, it will likely come pre-seasoned. This makes for less work for you and means that you can begin using your cookware right away. If you've had your skillet for a while or are trying to restore a skillet passed down to you, you'll want to make sure that it's seasoned properly.
To season a skillet to perfection, you'll want to start with a blank slate. This requires removing any prior seasoning coats and re-creating the first of many seasoning layers that will help create the nonstick coating most other cooking materials have.
How to Properly Season a Cast Iron Pan
Step 1: Remove Prior Seasoning Layers
To properly season your cast iron skillet, start the pan’s seasoning process by removing past seasoning layers—especially if they've been sitting on there for some time. To do this, use a scrubbing brush and scrub the entirety of the pan.
Once you apply a new seasoning coat, you'll no longer use soap and a brush to clean your pan, which means you'll want to make sure that all old grease and food bits are removed from the pan during this final scrubbing.
Step 2: Rinse and Dry the Skillet Thoroughly
After the cast iron skillet has been thoroughly cleaned and scrubbed, it's time to rinse your pan. Using a clean brush or towel, wipe the pan down one more time before rinsing and drying it.
Step 3: Apply a Layer of Seasoning Oil
Now that your clean cast iron pan is thoroughly dried, use a paper towel to wipe a thin layer of oil over the inside of your pan, ensuring that all parts are covered. While any oil can be used, the most commonly used are corn oil, coconut oil and almond oil. The oil you choose will form the base of your seasoning layer.
Step 4: Bake Your Coating Into Your Pan
Next, heat your oven to 350°F and lay the pan upside down on a roasting tray. Doing so will ensure that the oil dripped off of the pan will fall onto the tray and not your oven. Allow the pan to bake in the oven for at least an hour.
Step 5: Allow the Pan to Cool
Once your cast iron skillet has baked for an hour, turn off the oven and leave the pan inside to cool to room temperature along with the oven. While just one coat of seasoning is needed to begin cooking with your skillet, this process can be repeated to build up the seasoning layer and the nonstick abilities of the pan.
Cooking with Your Cast Iron Skillet
Just the thought of using a cast iron skillet can seem intimidating. With easy-to-use ceramic and nonstick pans on the market, you may think that using cast iron is more effort than it's worth. This couldn't be further from the truth! In reality, using a cast iron skillet to whip up delicious meals is simple. By following the steps below, you can become a cast iron pro in no time!
Heat the Pan Before Cooking in It
The key to cooking your cast iron recipes to perfection is to heat the pan before using it. To do this, start by placing your pan over a low to medium flame and let it warm while you're preparing the ingredients for your recipe. To make sure the pan's surface is heated evenly, rotate it every few minutes. Because cast iron is an excellent conductor of heat, your pan will remain hot for a long time and that heat will transfer to the recipe well. While you can cook on a cold cast iron pan, the food will likely stick and the recipe may not cook as evenly.
Add Oil to Your Food
If you're used to cooking on nonstick pans, chances are you don't use much oil in your recipes. When using other pans, spraying a bit of oil onto the surface usually does the trick. When cooking with cast iron, instead of pouring oil onto the pan, we recommend brushing the oil directly onto the food you'll be cooking. This is especially so when cooking meat and vegetable-based recipes. Adding oil will boost the flavor of your recipe, enable the pan to cook better and make for easier clean-up.
Cook Meat Thoroughly Before Flipping
When cooking meat on cast iron, avoid flipping it before it's done cooking. Instead, allow the meat to fully cook on one side before flipping it to the other. Doing so will help caramelize the sugars in the meat, creating a better taste and texture. Additionally, flipping a steak too soon could disrupt the searing process and cause the meat to stick to the pan.
5 Ways to Use Your Cast Iron Skillet
Use it to Make Bread
Cast iron skillets aren't just used to sear meats and sauteed veggies. In fact, they make for an excellent way to bake delicious homemade bread. The next time you're craving a cheesy bread to pair with your savory dinner, try making this Parmesan No-Knead Skillet Bread. Easy to make, this bread tastes delicious and is even better when made on a cast iron skillet. Made with our Unbleached All-Purpose Flour and Active Dry Yeast, you can have a fresh-baked loaf of bread in under two hours!
Use Your Skillet to Make Cookies
If you're craving something sweet during the summer and don't want to overheat the house by using your oven, use a cast iron skillet for baking your favorite cookie recipe. Simply add your favorite cookie dough to a skillet for a tasty treat that everyone can enjoy. Your family will love coming together to create this dessert and they'll enjoy it even more once you pull a huge skillet of gooey cookies out of the oven. For a cookie dough that cooks perfectly on cast iron, make this Pumpkin Pie Skillet Cookie Recipe.
Use Cast Iron to Make Cinnamon Rolls
Eager to make an over-the-top breakfast to surprise your guests with? This Gluten Free Skillet Cinnamon Roll Recipe will do just the trick. Made with our Gluten Free Pizza Crust Mix, it's a decadent breakfast treat that will have everyone raving about your cooking skills. Rather than making individual cinnamon rolls, the cast iron skillet allows you to make one giant one that everyone can pick from. A warm and sweet treat, top your giant cinnamon roll-off with a coffee glaze for the ultimate breakfast.
Use Your Skillet to Make Cornbread
Not much tastes better than home-baked cornbread straight from the oven. The perfect warm and satisfying appetizer, this Gluten Free Cast Iron Skillet Cornbread is a Bob's Red Mill Favorite. Made with our Gluten Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour, Gluten Free Corn Flour and Gluten Free Medium Cornmeal, its crisp interior and springy center is one that everyone will love. Baked in a sizzling-hot cast iron skillet, serve it with hot butter and honey and enjoy!
Use Cast Iron to Make Pie
Out of all the recipes you can cook in a cast iron skillet, we bet pie wasn't the first that came to mind. Delicious and simple to make, this Paleo Pumpkin Pie Dutch Baby is a recipe best enjoyed in a skillet. Made with coconut milk, pumpkin puree and our Paleo Baking Flour, it can be served and enjoyed straight from the skillet! Not only does this make for a great-looking treat, but it's also easier to clean up.
From seasoning your cast iron skillet to creating desserts like cookies and pie, knowing how to use a cast iron skillet will ensure that everything you cook tastes delicious. We hope this guide has provided you with the information needed to get the most out of your cast iron skillet. From everyone at Bob's Red Mill, we wish you the best on your cooking journey!