Leslie asked me about how to take care of a cast-iron frying pan, and that got me to thinking about my kitchen superheroes in general . . . namely, my cast-iron frying pan, my chef's knife, stainless measuring cups and spoons and mixing bowls, cutting boards, and my immersion blender. It's amazing how much you can do with a minimum amount of supplies! Anyhow, I'll ramble about all of that other stuff later.
On to superhero #1:
Cast iron. It's a good thing. It's cheap, lasts forever, adds a trace amount of iron to your food each time you use it, heats up quick and stays evenly hot, and is nonstick. (There's something "up" with my pan, however, which is driving me crazy. It has a hot spot, and food routinely sticks in the hot spot. Grrrrrr. That's what I get for buying my pan at an overstock store. I bet it's not really all cast-iron. Anyhow, my complaints aside.)
Even though my cast-iron pan is giving me grief lately, it's still the #1 used pan in my kitchen:
~ I keep my pan out on the stovetop at all times, covered with my splatter screen to keep dust out of the pan. Why? Because it's heavy as hell and bulky as sin, and it's just easier to leave it out on the stovetop. Plus, it gets used that much.
~ If I'm going to be using the pan, I turn the burner under it on (at about medium heat) before I even start taking ingredients out of the fridge. Why? Because the cure takes about 5 minutes of preheating to become truly nonstick.
~ After I'm done using the pan each time, I just dump out the crumbs (if the food in it was dry,) or give it a quick rinse under hot water and wipe with the dishrag, and stick it back on the stove for about a minute over low heat to dry it fully. Then, shut off the heat, leave it sit to cool, and you're ready for next time. No scrubbing, soaking, or otherwise yukky clean-up tasks.
~ To cure: rub the pan all over (inside, outside, handle, bottom, etc.) with either high-heat vegetable oil (such as canola) or nonhydrogenated shortening (such as Spectrum or Earth Balance.) Stick the pan in a 250 degree oven, upside-down on top of a cookie sheet (to catch oily drips) for about an hour. Shut off the oven, take your pan out, wipe off any excess oil with a rag or paper towel (if there is some,) and stick it back on your stovetop to cool. Folks say you should cure your pan about once a year, but I do it more often than that, especially because my pan is a pain in the neck. If your pan is new and you are developing a cure, you'll probably have to cure it more often, too. Anyhow, any time you are displeased with your pan's performance, just cure it again -- that's my motto, anyway.
Good things come from cast iron frying pans:
(I made tofu scramble for lunch today.)