If forced to pick only one pan to cook with for the rest of my life, I would choose one of my resilient and trustworthy cast-iron pans without any hesitation. These durable pieces of cookware, sometimes referred to as cast-iron skillets or dutch ovens, are so versatile that you can cook nearly anything in them.
From fried chicken to giant pancakes and almost everything in between, cast-iron pans are the ultimate multipurpose tool that every home cook should have in their kitchen. Not only can you use them to get a perfect sear on that expensive steak you bought, but cast-iron pans can also be used to braise, pan-fry, roast, and bake in. This cookware is so heavy and tough that you can even place it directly over a campfire or grill for some ideal alfresco cooking.
One of my favorite aspects of this cookware is its longevity. Cast iron only improves over time and, if properly taken care of, can endure a lifetime… literally. Treated as heirlooms, most of my beloved cast-iron skillets have been inherited from my grandparents and are seasoned with generations of love.
Oh, and by the way, did I mention that cast-iron pans are all naturally nonstick?
Yes, it’s true. Fish, crispy chicken skin, and even eggs will all yield perfect results without worry of sticking to the pan. This is because the more you use these pans, the more they become seasoned. This means that the pan absorbs the oil or fat used to cook with, resulting in a naturally nonstick layer that covers the surface of the pan.
Additionally, this seasoning adds flavor to your pan (similar to a grill) and also provides protection against rust and corrosion.
Cast-iron cleanup couldn’t be easier either. Once you are done cooking, give your pan a quick rinse with hot water; you can even use a drop of dish soap, contrary to many beliefs, if it’s really dirty. Using a paper towel, wipe the skillet down and set it over a low flame to completely dry it out for a couple of minutes. Once it’s dry, use another paper towel to rub it down with a minimal coating of neutral cooking oil before storing. Now that you know why it’s smart to invest in cast-iron cookware, bring home a new pan and try these 12 great recipes to make in your cast-iron pan.