The accomplishment of a cast iron skillet is its balance of versatility, easy cleanup and is especially noted for its durability or solid construction.
Cast iron cookware has been the kitchens workhorse for generations.
Some may question if cooking with a cast iron skillet is healthy? The answer is yes.
To date there is no evidence that it can cause cancer or any other type of illness as Teflon pans have proven to do.
One benefit of cooking with a cast iron utensil, is the leaching of iron into the food that is cooked in it.
The Science Of Cooking With A Cast Iron Skillet
The Journal Of American Dietetic Association, states that iron deficiency is widespread, especially in China and the United States.
The journal goes on to say that iron added to food by cooking in an iron utensil is bioavailable.
Something that is bioavailable is the degree to which (in this case eating food cooked in a cast iron skillet) food nutrients are available for absorption and utilization in the body.
The next question arises, how much iron is leached into the food?
Scientific research has found, for example, that spaghetti sauce cooked in cast iron skillets increased the iron content from between 2mg to 5mg of iron.
So is food safe to consume cooked in a cast iron skillet leaching iron?
The type of iron that comes from cast iron cooking is nonheme iron and is safe to consume.
Nonheme is the same type of iron found in plant sources such as legumes, spinach, broccoli, pumpkin seeds and dark chocolate just to name a few.
Read More Here About Dietary Iron At The National Institutes Of Health – Office Of Dietary Supplements
There are other benefits cooking with a iron utensil. These include:
- Using less cooking oil
- Avoiding chemicals, like perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE)
These chemicals can leach from the skillet into your food and according to the World Health Organization these chemicals can cause cancer. They are also human hormone disruptors.
Enough of the science. Continue reading to see how to cook with a cast iron skillet.
Roasting Chicken In A Cast Iron Skillet
Cooking With A Cast Iron Skillet
A cast iron skillet is not only excellent for frying food, but also for searing, braising and poaching as well as quick broiling and grilling.
You can also use a iron skillet to roast or bake food in the oven.
America’s Test Kitchen has published stating that cast iron is a poor conductor of heat.
They tested and found that the skillet heats unevenly on the stovetop.
They suggest preheating the skillet in a 500-degree oven when a really good, even, fast sear is needed.
The better heat distribution in the oven helps the pan heat more evenly, creating a superior surface for searing.
They do go on to say though, for recipes where a searing isn’t necessary, just preheat the pan for 3 or 5 minutes over medium-high heat on the stovetop.
The Science Of Cooking nots that cast iron is slow to heat up, and therefore slow to cool down.
So it is suggested, once your food is cooked, remove the food from the skillet. If not, it will continue to cook and could burn.
Since cast iron holds heat, it’s not necessary to use a heat setting above medium. Knowing this will help prevent food from sticking.
Cooking North African Lamb Chops In A Cast Iron Skillet
Cleaning & Seasoning Your Cast Iron Skillet
A well-seasoned cast-iron pan creates a natural nonstick coating so you end up using less cooking oil than with a standard stainless-steel pan.
You will also want to maintain the iron skillet by cleaning it with soapy hot water after each use, according to MasterClass.
Step’s Recommended To Clean Your Iron Skillet:
- Clean your cast-iron skillet while it’s still warm.
- Wipe out any food with paper towels, a rag, or sponge and gently scrub any stuck-on bits with a brush or coarse salt.
- Rinse the skillet with hot water.
- Thoroughly dry with a rag or paper towels, or place the skillet on the stovetop over medium-low heat until dry, about 3-5 minutes.
- When the skillet is completely dry, apply a light coat of vegetable oil to the surface of the pan using a rag or paper towels.
- Rub the oil into the surface of the skillet until no oil residue remains.
- Store your cast iron skillet in a dry place.
They say you should clean it while it’s still warm, making it easier to remove stuck-on food. After a good cleaning you will have to reapply the oil layer.
If you maintain your pan’s seasoning through proper cleaning, it won’t rust and will have a natural nonstick finish slippery enough to fry an egg on.
Follow These Steps To Season Your Iron Skillet:
First preheat the oven to 500 degrees.
1. Use a neutral cooking oil and rub a thin layer all over your cast iron skillet with paper towels or rags, wiping away any excess oil.
2. To prevent pooling, place the skillet upside down on the upper oven rack with a piece of aluminum foil on the rack below to catch any drips. Bake for one hour.
3. Remove from oven and let cool. When cooled rub with a second light coat of oil and store in a dry place.
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