My Nannie Broome’s cast iron skillet was probably the most used piece of cookware in her little kitchen. Fried chicken, cornbread, creamed corn, her stewed squash with onions….I can close my eyes and smell that wonderful food. My momma has made cornbread in the same cast iron square pan for the last 20 or 30 years, I bet. I don’t think she’s ever made a pone without it. She puts a little bacon grease in the pan, preheats it in the oven and when the batter hits the grease, the sizzle alone will make your mouth water.
There is nothing like cast iron cooking. My friend Chef Robert St. John calls it the original nonstick (here’s his Chicken Jambalaya recipe cooked in a big ole cast iron skillet). The more you cook with it and if you treat it right (coat with a little vegetable oil after each use), the more release it has. Another benefit to cast iron cooking is that food stays hotter longer and it’s a natural heat conductor that heats evenly. Cast iron pans are made to last a lifetime. Even if your pan rusts or loses it’s seasoning, you can reseason and bring it back to life. When it comes to cast iron, I love Lodge! Made in South Pittsburg, TN for over 100 years, I bought my first piece of Lodge cast iron years ago and it’s still going strong. It’s a huge Dutch oven that I’ve used on the stove top, in the oven and even on a campfire! Of course, the oven and the stove top because you can brown a roast on a burner and without missing a beat, move it straight to the oven, but have you tried it over a campfire?
My dutch oven has a ball handle that’s great for hanging it over a campfire or for hearth cooking. It’s kept many batches of chili hot and satisfying on cool fall nights over our fire pit. While I’ve never actually done any cooking using our fireplace inside the house, I did use it to heat some water when the electricity went out last winter. It was single digits outside and only upper forties inside and we were worried about the fish since their little heater is electric. Animal lovers ’til the end, we got out the dutch oven, heated water right in the fireplace and poured it into plastic milk containers to serve as hot water bottles for the tank. It did the trick and the fish made it fine-thanks to Lodge & some fast thinking.
Cast iron is a winner for all of these reasons–nonstick, durability, consistency, versatility…and even aquatic critter rescue! But, I think I love it the most for all the food and family memories that cast iron has created over the years. Food is not just nutritional for me, it’s emotional. Cooking a meal in a pan that your grandmother or mother cooked in every day of her life is continuing a family tradition and tipping your hat to the great cooks who are always in your heart long after the meal is enjoyed.
Here’s the Hoppin John recipe with the andouille sausage: https://onepannan.com/hoppin-john/
Lodge shares these tips for keeping your cast iron looking great and cooking great for a long time: https://www.lodgemfg.com/use-and-care/seasoned-cast-iron-use-and-care.asp