Sunday Reader: Comfort In Cast Iron

I like to cook.

In fact, I’m a really good cook if I do say so myself. I don’t really have a “go to” recipe that I cook all the time, but I do have a “go to” piece of hardware. Well, really, two pieces of hardware: my 9-inch and 10-inch Lodge cast iron skillets.

There’s something about cast iron. It’s extraordinarily versatile, sturdy, and reliable. It’s a comfort. I’ve used it for just about every cooking application: baking buttermilk biscuits and cornbread to making grilled cheese sandwiches for my son Lucas to searing steaks and roasting chicken to making chili (yes, I know that acids in tomatoes will eat away the seasoning, but oil is cheap and reseasoning isn’t difficult) to making cobblers. A properly seasoned cast iron pan, in my opinion, is your best friend in the kitchen (or on the grill or at your campsite).

The staple of Southern kitchens is definitely the OG in non-stick cooking. Thanks to the miracle of science, polymerized fats keep food from sticking to the pan and makes cleanup much, much easier. In fact, it’s not uncommon to have cast iron cookware passed down from one generation to the next. Which, if you think about it, is pretty incredible since you can pick up a quality cast iron pan for about twenty bucks. I don’t know many people clambering for grandma’s toaster oven.

Why’s that? Think about the stories attached to family heirloom cast iron. The smells associated with your grandma’s or mom’s famous fried chicken or you grandpa’s or dad’s gravy. There can be a strong nostalgia that stirs up when you break out your family’s cast iron and recipe book. Now, that doesn’t mean newly bought cast iron is less worthy or desirable than heirloom cast iron.

In fact, it allows you the chance to build family traditions and experiment with recipes that can be passed down to future generations along with your cast iron cookware. Embarking on the journey as a first generation cast iron owner gives you the chance to write your own story and allow future generations to continue it.

I take comfort in the legacy I’m building as Lucas watches me cook dinner or his grilled cheese sandwiches. I hope to pass down my cast iron and my cooking skills to him, and I hope he will get as much enjoyment in sharing time in the kitchen with his kids in the future as I am sharing with him now.


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