When silicone pans were introduced to the marketplace, food could suddenly be cooked without added butter or oil and slide effortlessly onto the plate.Moreover, cleaning silicone cookware was a snap as there was no food stuck to the pan. Fast forward twenty years when we were told that non-stick silicone coatings may be hazardous to our health.
When looking for an alternative to silicone I remembered the black iron skillet that I had kept hidden in a kitchen cupboard for years. When I bought the iron pan many years ago I had the best intentions of using it because I thought it would be an interesting pan to cook with. But when I brought it home and briefly read the description of how to season and care for it I lost interest. The cast iron skillet was banished to the back of the cupboard.
It was many years later that I took the cast iron pan out of the cupboard and re-examined my decision . I did some research and decided that my iron pan was coming out of the cupboard permanently and would be an important part of my daily cooking. I began by seasoning the skillet.
Seasoning an iron skillet is as simple as oiling it, heating it in the oven at at high heat and then wiping it clean and re-oiling it until further use.
Cleaning an iron skillet is as simple as seasoning one. Heat the skillet, add your ingredients, cook, then clean with soap and water , wipe dry and re-oil. If there is anything crusted to the iron use a stiff steel brush to clean it or add salt to a cloth and rub the tougher food remnants off. Do not let water sit in the iron pan as the pan will rust. Often you only need to wipe the iron skillet without using water and the food remnants will easily wipe away thereby making the pan non-stick naturally without the use of any added silicone or toxic chemicals.
You may be surprised to learn that the more often you use the pan the more non-stick it becomes so in essence the iron pan will morph into a cast iron non-stick pan.
There are also tremendous healthful benefits to cooking in iron. When cooking anything in an iron skillet the iron is transferred from the food into our bloodstreams. I now cook all my greens in the iron pan for a double dose of vitamins and minerals with the added benefit of higher iron. What an easy,natural way to get iron into our diet.
Iron skillets are the oldest forms of pots and pans. Ironware was used for hundreds of years to cook meat and potatoes over wood fires by our earliest settlers. If you are fortunate enough to inherit an iron skillet from your grandmother then consider using it regularly. The tradition of using iron pans will continue in your family. If you don’t already own a piece of ironware you can buy many brands of iron cookware in many colors.
Cast iron cookware now comes in all sizes and colors ranging from bright red to lemon yellow. I prefer my plain black iron skillet. It looks very handsome sitting on my stove-top ready to spring into sauteing or pan frying dinner for my family.
Do not use metal implements on an iron skillet because the metal on metal surfaces will scratch the iron. In addition, please have oven mitts or potholders near the stove as the handles on cast iron skillets become very hot. If you have a glass cook top like I do you may want to invest in a “liner” for the top of the glass burner so that the iron does not scratch the surface.
I now thoroughly enjoy my iron skillet and will even make cornbread and pineapple upside down cake in it. An iron pan is also versatile because it can go from the stove top into the oven. Use it for cooking or baking. Either way using an iron skillet is far healthier and makes the food tastier than the silicone cookware we have become accustomed to.
Although nothing has been proved one hundred percent I am now permanently skeptical about the black coatings on silicone cookware. I will not purchase non-stick products again no matter how improved they claim to be. I will not pan fry or saute in an aluminum pan again. When I read that coatings from non-stick cookware may have carcinogens I immediately threw out all the scratched pans into the recycling bin. Aluminum may or may not contribute to Alzheimer’s. I won’t take the chance.
My oiled iron skillet rests ready to use on my stove top. I do saute tomatoes and every other vegetable I use in my iron skillet. If the skillet is immediately cleaned the tomatoes do not harm the pan. I have also noticed that tomatoes and other vegetables cooked in my cast iron skillet taste heartier and the flavors are more enhanced than when cooked in traditional modern non-stick cookware. Chicken and meat are simple to cook in the iron skillet. I was surprised when my Italian tomato based chicken and various stir-fries tasted so much better than when I had cooked them in silicone cookware. As well as iron there are other alternatives to non-stick cookware.
“Emile Henry” cookware is made from ceramic and has a lead-free glaze. This cookware and bake-ware cleans quickly and easily. Cooking in “Emile Henri” is a pleasure because the pots hold their heat consistently, which is a result of their shape and the material they are made from. The pots and pans can be used on top of the stove and in the oven. My red casseroles for cooking stews and for braising lamb shanks are very inviting and create a happy atmosphere in my kitchen.
A stainless steel skillet also needs practice but once we know how much oil and heat to use sauteing, simmering and braising becomes an easy task. Using a stainless steel skillet with a long handle and one that has a layered metal bottom will help your food saute evenly.
I am happy with all my present cookware but if I had to pick a favorite it would be my blackened iron skillet.
So, take your forgotten iron skillet our of the garage sale pile. Learn how to use it and you will congratulate yourself on how much better your cooking tastes.