Perhaps it’s something that dates back to our hunter ancestry, or maybe it’s just the unrefined, rugged nature of the thing, but there’s something inherently manly about holding a cast-iron skillet in your hands, sitting it above fire and searing a chunk of meat on it. I bet your mouth’s watering just thinking about it.
But there are benefits to investing in a cast-iron skillet beyond those that massage your masculinity. Yes, it may take your kitchen one step back in the steak stakes – there’s nothing overly technical or food-sciency about a skillet, and it’ll be a nightmare to wash and store, but this ugly cousin of the pan family is about as honest a piece of kitchenware as you’ll ever own – and it deserves your respect.
It’s naturally non-stick
Not that any of the no-nonsense food you’ll be cooking on a skillet will be preoccupied with thoughts of clean-living or carb-counting, but if you ‘season’ your cast-iron correctly, there’ll be little need to coat your pan in oil before you begin cooking.
To prepare it correctly, cover the bottom of your skillet with thick salt, pour in a half-inch of cooking oil and then heat this until the oil begins to smoke. Pour out the oil and your pan will be naturally non-stick for many steaks to come.
It’s easy to wash
You don’t need soap for a skillet. Instead, these chunks of iron are as easy to wash as they are to cook with, and you simply need to scrub the bottom of the pan with a stiff brush and plenty of hot water. This will keep it seasoned, keep it clean and keep anything and everything you cook on your skillet imbued with the smokey flavour you’ll come to love.
It doesn’t give off chemicals
As there are no chemicals in it to begin with – like those found in Teflon-coated pans – there are no harmful chemicals to leech out into your food. Instead, iron can transfer from the pan into your food – and that’s only a good thing.
Iron deficiency is one of the most common deficiencies around the globe, so cooking on a cast-iron skillet is one of the best and easiest ways to passively introduce the mineral into your diet. Especially cooking with an acidic ingredient – such as tomato sauce – which can increase its iron content by up to 20 times by being cooked in a skillet.
It will last forever
Whilst nothing is truly, truly indestructible, the cast iron-skillet comes pretty close. We’re talking survive-the-apocalypse close. Incredibly durable, and easy to repair is scratched, these pans rarely chip or crack. Even if it rusts you can simply scratch off any rust with steel wool and re-season the bottom.
And it’s versatile too. The material can be used with almost any heat source – from open flames to induction cooking – so whatever you throw at it, and experiment you should, your food may not come out perfect every time, but your skillet definitely will.