They tell me:
"It's too heavy."
"The food sticks."
"It gets really hot."
Well, yes, yes and yes.
The heft of the skillet is one of the things I like best -- it's never going to warp and if you drop it, it won't dent. Your floor, maybe. Or your toes. Just use two hands when you haul it around.
Your food could indeed stick if your skillet isn't seasoned properly. But that's an easy fix -- coat the inside with cooking oil and put the empty pan in a 350 degree oven for an hour. Over time, if you are good to your cast iron, it will become slick and non-stick (and so much safer than Teflon).
And getting really hot is what makes it so fabulous -- there is a perfect distribution of heat, so your food will cook evenly, even on a flat top stove like ours. It can go from the stovetop to the oven (as in this recipe) and a good pot holder solves the too hot problem.
You can cook anything in a cast iron skillet -- my mom and dad did, my grandmas did and I'm proud to say I finally got over my snootyness about cast iron skillets (I thought they were too "country." They are, but then, so am I. I thought I needed fancy pans. I didn't.) I was going to list the things we cook in our skillets (yes, we have them in several sizes) but it's easier to list the things I wouldn't cook in the skillet:
Did you hear the crickets?
Plus, when you cook in cast iron (especially foods which stay in the pan for a while), you get some added iron in your diet. How cool is that?
Here's what we had for supper this past Monday. I love to make a fritatta -- which is basically a scrambled egg pie -- because you can throw in whatever is in your fridge. So even though this one is asparagus and mushrooms, you can use any vegetable, meat, cheese combination you would want. (We really like kale and feta -- so surpisingly delicious!)
1/2 a small onion, chopped fine (or shallots, leeks -- whatever you have)
1 clove garlic, chopped fine
1 pound asparagus, washed, trimmed and cut into 1" pieces (on the diagonal is pretty)
1 cup of sliced mushrooms
6 eggs (EggBeaters work just fine, too), beaten lightly
1 cup of shredded cheese (with asparagus, I like Swiss, Gruyere or Fontina)
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan
Over medium high heat, melt butter and saute onion and garlic for a few minutes. Toss in asparagus and cook for 3-4 minutes (tender crisp). Toss in mushrooms and cook another minute or so. Stir Swiss cheese into the eggs, and some salt and pepper to taste, then pour that over the vegetables.
Turn on the broiler. Let the eggs cook, without stirring, until they are set up nicely and the middle isn't runny. Then, sprinkle the Parmesan over the eggs and (using two hands and a pot holder!) put the skillet under the broiler for the cheese to brown up -- watch it pretty closely here so the cheese doesn't burn. Remove from the broiler, cut into wedges and serve.
I chopped up some tomatoes into bite-sized pieces and tossed them with a tiny bit of olive oil, some balsamic vinegar and just a sprinkle of sea salt. Let that marinate for a bit -- this can make those grocery store tomatoes taste close to delicious!