Deep in the Mississippi Delta we once saw an elderly woman who could barely walk flip cornbread — with a toss, aerially, unaided but for the Holy Spirit — in a 9-inch cast iron skillet, a feat that would humble most able-bodied men. She’d been making stovetop cornbread that way for decades, and age wasn’t going to get in the way of tradition, or the perfect brown crust. That’s what cooking with cast iron is all about: using a simple, high quality tool to create beautiful food, year after year, and getting better along the way. To do that you need to cultivate your culinary skills and keep your skillet properly seasoned, which is to say, coated in a hard layer of polymerized fat. We’ll deal with the latter today. Here’s how to do it.
Kickstarter-funded Borough Furnace is a Syracuse-based metal casting workshop. Their skillets are made of scrap iron in a furnace that burns waste vegetable oil. Quantities are limited, so check the site every Tuesday for new batches of skillets. boroughfurnace.com
French-made Staub products are enameled cast iron, meaning that there’s actually no exposed cast iron. The pans have all the benefits of cast iron, but they can also be used right away for acidic foods and liquids. staubusa.com
Now-defunct Griswold was a Pennsylvania-based manufacturer of cast iron products. They’re collectors’ items now, so look for them on ebay and season them using the steps enumerated here. wikipedia.org
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