Cast iron skillets are a must-have tool for home cooks and people within the culinary field alike. Both European and American Cooking techniques utilize cast iron skillets due to their versatility and ability to provide a unique texture and flavor to any dish.
In order to get the most value out of your cast iron skillet, it is important to know some of the common cooking methods that use them. Here are four ways to cook with a cast iron skillet:
Sear and sautée
Cast iron skillets are excellent for searing and sautéing foods because they can be brought to high heat and are nonstick, so long as you season the skillet appropriately before use. The Rising Spoon offers a great recipe for searing (and then baking) a steak using a cast iron skillet. Searing any type of meat using your cast iron skillet will allow you to create a flavorful, crispy outer layer while maintaining a juicy center. Cast iron skillets are also excellent for sautéing a variety of foods, including vegetables.
The ability to bake with a cast iron skillet speaks to its versatility and ease of use. Since cast iron skillets distribute heat evenly it is much easier to prepare baked goods and maintain the crispiness of any food. Cast iron skillets can be used to bake classic dishes like frittatas, roasted chicken or even sweet desserts. Pastry students may find it especially helpful to learn how to bake pies using a cast iron skillet. The Food Network provides a recipe for cooking apple pie using a cast iron skillet. If you want to bake something more savory, try roasting a chicken or making a skillet cornbread.
Simply put, braising is simmering meat in a small amount of liquid that adds to the food’s flavor. Cast iron skillets are perfect for braising meats because they maintain their temperature over long periods of time. Additionally, cast iron skillets facilitate caramelization of sugary liquids – wine is a great example – which will add a great texture to your meats.
Cast iron skillets take fried food to the next level. Cast iron skillets maintain a fairly constant heat, even when oil is added to the pain. As a result of the heat distribution, cast iron skillets will quickly fry the outside of any food without letting the oils seep into the center.