How to Care for Your New Cast-Iron Skillet – The New Yorker
Congratulations on your purchase of a brand-new Cottage™ twelve-inch cast-iron skillet! For more than a hundred years, Cottage™ has been a leading manufacturer of quality pans, free weights, and kettlebells. And, for just eight dollars (plus a one-dollar-per-pound shipping fee, so $48 total), cast iron gives you the most skilleting pleasure for your cookware buck. Just keep these basic guidelines in mind, and your pan will never rust, break, or allow you to suffer from any sort of iron-deficiency-induced anemia.
1. Before you use your pan for the first time, you’ll need to “season” it. Luckily, that process couldn’t be simpler:
(a) Join your neighborhood food co-op. If your neighborhood doesn’t have a food co-op, you may want to reëxamine your life choices before continuing.
(b) Purchase ten gallons of your favorite neutral oil—canola, flaxseed, linseed, jojoba, whatever. As long as Mario Batali wouldn’t cook with it, you should be fine.
(c) Put your pan on the stove and turn your burner all the way up to high. You do have a gas range, don’t you? Did they have electric stoves on the Oregon Trail? Then why would you think that you could use a cast-iron pan on one?
(d) O.K., now let it sit there until it gets good and hot. Twenty-nine hours should do the trick, but you may have to leave it for up to thirty, depending on your altitude.
(e) Take a towel and rub some oil on the hot pan. You’ll know you’ve added enough oil when the towel you’re using has completely disintegrated into a pile of ash.
(f) Repeat this process eleven or twelve times and you’re good to go!
Now that you’ve properly seasoned your pan, you can use it to cook almost anything (except for acidic foods, such as tomatoes, olives, beef, pork, eggs, green beans, carrots, most other vegetables, and all legumes).
2. NEVER LET YOUR PAN TOUCH WATER!! Look, your pan wasn’t made by an egghead lab tech out of some fancy, space-age, waterproof, cancer-causing polymer. It was made by banging a piece of METAL over and over until it was SKILLET-SHAPED. Would you drive your Buick into the lake? Then why in God’s name would you ever let water touch the surface of your precious eight-dollar hand-forged cast-iron skillet? In fact, just to be on the safe side, during the more humid summer months, you probably shouldn’t use your pan at all. Just store it in a cool, dry place (like the air-conditioned guest room of your cousin’s house in Arizona), and it will be ready for use any time between November and March.
3. After making your cornbread or johnnycakes or whatever, be sure to clean your pan thoroughly. Since you can’t use water, just throw a bar of soap onto your still-hot pan until it completely evaporates, then scour your pan with a possum-whisker brush until you’ve removed all the caked-on residue. While your pan is not “non-stick,” it’s certainly “low-stick,” so with proper seasoning there shouldn’t be more than an inch or so of solid carbonized food gunk left on the bottom of your pan. Nothing a good stiff possum brush and a little elbow grease (warning: not a neutral oil) can’t handle!
4. Make sure to re-season your pan! A good five or six repetitions of steps B–E after each use should be more than sufficient.
5. We know it’s pretty obvious, but just a reminder: never use any metal, wood, or plastic utensils with your cast-iron skillet! Remember to use only whalebone spatulas.
Well, that’s really all there is to it!
Whether you purchased your cast-iron skillet in a futile attempt to simplify your overburdened yet meaningless modern existence, or you’re a burly Brooklynite with a penchant for faux authenticity who needed a piece of cookware to go with your hand-cranked printing press and galvanized-tin washtub, we’re sure you’ll find a permanent spot on your heavily reinforced wall for your piece of easy-to-use Cottage™ cookware.