In the pantheon of kitchen greats, brightly colored KitchenAid mixers and stately Le Creusets -- the kind of gifts you might receive for a wedding (or get married so that someone gives them to you) -- might first come to mind. Or your attention may dart to the gleaming knife that fits perfectly in your hand and renders you a kitchen samurai.
The cast iron skillet gets its due devotion, yes, but no one's talking about it for its sexiness. Heavy and austere, it doesn't get gussied up when company comes over; it can't be tossed in the dishwasher with the other pans, and for that, it's sometimes misunderstood -- taken for stubborn, nostalgic, fussy. Given a chance, though, it cozies into your heart and garners the same sort of lifelong loyalty as those candy-colored mixers, only perhaps more fervent, precisely because it is so humble. It fries like no other; it gives meats a killer crust and does double duty in the oven. Here are 13 recipes for your skillet to bring sexy back.