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Nancy is a trusted home cook.
First check packaging - Is it preseasoned?
If not, season it (oil, heat, etc...directions on web if not with pan).
Then do you like sweet or savory or both?
Fried eggs, French toast or pancakes (regular ir Dutch baby) for breakfast.
A cake or pie for dessert.
Open face melted cheese sandwich.
Steak and potatoes.
Roast chicken (whole or cut up, depending size).
Enjoy your newfound versatile pan!
I have used these skillets for decades, they are the very best !!! Love them !!!
Use them for anything you want to brown or crisp. although I use them for most anything.
To wash them, I swish them in hot water with 1 drop of soap if they're really greasy, then wipe them with a paper towel. When the outside gets a bit cruddy, I put them upside down in the self-cleaning oven and let it go, looks brand new at the end. Then you have to re-season it
Many years ago we were moved Buenos Aires, and took my skillets down with me. Down there the cooking equipment was awful, because everyone had live-in maids and they didn't care. Four years later, when we were returning to San Francisco, I decided that the cast iron was too heavy to bother taking home. I offered them to both my best friend and three-day a week cleaning woman,Nellie. They were so thrilled with them they almost got into hair-pulling over them !!!
PS - My best friend recently became anemic, so I gave her one of my skillets.
Three months later the problem was gone, no drugs etc.
Thank you everyone for the answers, very helpful. I have also seen a cook on TV make cornbread in a cast iron skillet. It looked SO good. Just started Weight Watchers. Do you have to use oil or butter to cook? Would a spraying of PAM be OK as a substitute?
Once the skillet is seasoned, you can cook with relatively small amounts of oil. And, as the pan gets more use, it forms a protective covering and is virtually non-stick.
Butter sometimes not a good idea in cast-iron as it has a relative low smoke-point.
Yes, some people report OK results using cooking spray in cast iron for cooking. With occasional reports of a weird odor from it. Maybe just use small amounts of oil to cook.
But not for seasoning. That still has to be done with oil or melted shortening (rec by Lodge, a top manufacturer).
Otherwise the pan won't develop the necessary internal coating on the metal.
Hope this helps
Nonstick sprays tend to make for a sticky goo building up on the pans. You really should stick to a light coat of plain old fat or oil with your cast iron. You don't need a lot, a dime size puddle spread around with a paper towel is plenty. Nonstick sprays do actually contain oil, but lecithin as well, and that's what makes the nasty goo form. You will also see it build up on nonstick pans and baking pans as well- and it's near impossible to get off easily. With use your cast iron pan will gain a nearly nonstick surface, but it will always benefit from a thin film of grease, oil or butter when used. I get the calorie consideration, but I don't think the light coat required would provide that much additional calories to worry about. If the pan is hot enough, there shouldn't be that much being absorbed by your food, and you can always blot it after cooking.
So many delicious and simple options, I'm sure you'll find lots of stuff to get use out of your skillet. Some savory and sweet ideas: frittatas, spanish tortillas, upside down cakes, cornbread, cobblers, skillet lasagna/pastas...enjoy!
Oh but keep in mind a lot of foods (acid things, eggs) can react to the metal in your pan and discolor the bottom of the food, so sometimes an extra liner like parchment paper doesn't hurt.
It can also substitute for a griddle for a lot of things- grilled cheese sandwiches (also makes a pretty good weight), tortillas etc.
It is great for all sautéing, especially hash browns. If you plan to use it for fish, I would get two and save one for fish, as it can absorb flavors. I have my grandmother’s cast iron skillets. To clean after cooking, rinse, scrape stuck food off with a plastic scraper if necessary, then use coarse salt(a good amount) to scour with some paper towel till clean. Rinse with hot water. You can wash the outside with a little dish soap, but I don’t use it in the pan. Do not dry with a towel. Sit on a burner on low till dry. Rub with a little oil. It is really faster to clean this way than it sounds.😊
I like to make cornbread in a cast iron skillet. Presuming yours has had its first seasoning done, put in enough oil to thinly coat the bottom, and place it in the oven while it heats to 425. Meanwhile, make your cornbread batter according to whatever recipe you like. When oven and skillet are nice and hot- pour the batter into the middle of the skillet and slide it back into the oven to bake. This gives you a nice crispy crust on the cornbread, and helps reinforce the seasoning of your skillet. Your cornbread should flip out intact, and if it doesn't- where it sticks will tell you where the skillet seasoning needs attention most. You can also make fried potato skins in your skillet, with a bit of oil and salt. You get a nice snack, and the skillet is seasoning away. You can also make your own bacon bits, with the chopped bacon of your choice, and make it in either the oven or the stovetop. Make a Dutch Baby, or shallow fry schnitzels. After a few times, you can give eggs a shot. When the skillet is well seasoned, fried eggs are a dream.
Many people also insist that a cast iron pan is the way to go for upside down cakes. I've never had one that didn't have too much history to want to try it; perhaps you could strike while the iron is hot, as it were.
PS Just came across this article with more than a dozen ways to use a cast iron pan. Enjoy...