One of the most popular items offered at Cassandra’s Kitchen is our set of mini cast iron skillets – we use them to make Ina’s famous Skillet Brownies, which is probably why they are so loved! We found the 5-inch skillets to be so useful, from breakfast to dessert, so last year we added a 12-inch Cast Iron Skillet to the shop as well. We often get questions about how to properly clean them – so we’ve compiled some pointers on how to care for a cast iron skillet and we even added a few of our favorite skillet recipes for you to try!
Our skillets are manufactured by Lodge so we went to them to get all the info on how to care for the pans so they last a long time – like generations. First off, these skillets rock because you can use them on a cooktop, an oven, a grill, and even over an open flame.
The pans come seasoned – so no extra step there (seasoning is just oil baked into the pan and will get better with each use.) Lodge says that the best way to maintain the seasoning on your pan is to use it! And how to clean your skillet? Three steps – wash, dry, oil.
How to Care For a Cast Iron Skillet – in 3 Easy Steps!
Step 1: Wash
Wash your cast iron cookware by hand. Use a small amount of soap. If needed, use a pan scraper for stuck-on food. For stubborn, stuck-on food, simmer a little water for 3-5 minutes, then use the scraper after the pan has cooled.
Step 2: Dry
Dry promptly and thoroughly with a lint-free cloth or paper towel. If you notice a little black residue on your towel, it's just seasoning and is perfectly normal.
Step 3: Oil
Rub a very light layer of cooking oil onto the surface of your cookware. Use a paper towel to wipe the surface until no oil residue remains.
And that’s it. Easy as 1-2-3! For additional information check out these frequently asked questions on cast iron cookware care to help you troubleshoot any issues that may arise.
Cast Iron Skillet Recipes
Now, on to the best part – recipes. Ina’s Baked Fontina from How Easy Is That? is a great dish for a casual dinner party or any gathering with cheese lovers. The Salmon with Melting Cherry Tomatoes is an awesome meal for the spring and summer months – it’s very easy and is a great one to add to your weeknight dinner rotation. We’ve shared Ina’s Skillet Brownies a bunch but we added the recipe below because it’s just that good and is made for our mini skillets.
Ina has lots of recipes that use cast iron skillets but we wanted to give you just a few more of our favorites: Panko-Crusted Salmon, Chicken Thighs with Creamy Mustard Sauce, Steakhouse Steaks and Skillet Roasted Lemon Chicken. Try them out, we think you will love them and love cooking with cast iron!
1½ pounds Italian Fontina Val d’Aosta cheese, rind removed and 1-inch-diced
¼ cup good olive oil
6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 crusty French baguette
Preheat the broiler and position the oven rack 5 inches from the heat.
Distribute the cubes of Fontina evenly in a 12-inch cast-iron pan. Drizzle on the olive oil. Combine the garlic, thyme, and rosemary and sprinkle it over the cheese and olive oil. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper and place the pan under the broiler for 6 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbling and starts to brown.
Serve the baked Fontina family-style—right out of the oven in the cast-iron pan with crusty chunks of bread for everyone to dip.
Copyright 2010, Barefoot Contessa How Easy is That? by Ina Garten, Clarkson Potter/Publishers, All Rights Reserved
Salmon with Melting Cherry Tomatoes
Good olive oil (Olio Santo)
1 cup chopped sweet onion, such as Vidalia
2 teaspoons minced garlic (2 cloves)
2 cups (1 pint) cherry or grape tomatoes, halved through the stem
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons good balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons julienned fresh basil leaves
1 (2-pound) salmon fillet, cut crosswise into 4 pieces
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a medium (10-inch) sauté pan. Add the onion and sauté over medium-low heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until very tender but not browned. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 more minute. Stir in the tomatoes, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and cook over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the liquid evaporates, and the tomato sauce thickens slightly. Off the heat, stir in the vinegar and basil.
Meanwhile, place a large (12-inch) cast-iron pan over high heat for 5 minutes. Brush the salmon all over with olive oil, sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper, and place it skin side up in the pan. Cook the fish for 3 to 4 minutes without moving them, until browned. Turn the salmon skin side down with a small metal spatula and transfer the pan to the oven for 8 minutes. (The salmon will not be completely cooked through.) Remove the fish to a serving platter, cover with aluminum foil, and allow to rest for 5 minutes.
Reheat the tomatoes, season to taste, and serve hot, warm, or at room temperature along with the salmon.
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter
4 ounces plus ½ cup Hershey’s semisweet chocolate chips, divided
1½ ounces unsweetened chocolate
2 extra-large eggs
2 teaspoons instant coffee powder, such as Nescafé
1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, divided
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 pint vanilla ice cream, such as Häagen-Dazs
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
Heat the butter, 4 ounces of the chocolate chips, and the unsweetened chocolate together in a medium heat-proof bowl set over simmering water just until the chocolate melts. Remove the bowl from the heat and allow to cool for 15 minutes. In a large bowl, stir (do not beat) the eggs, coffee powder, vanilla, and sugar. Stir the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and set aside to cool to room temperature.
In a medium bowl, sift together ¼ cup of the flour, the baking powder, and salt and stir it into the chocolate mixture. Toss the remaining ½ cup of chocolate chips and one tablespoon of flour together in a medium bowl and stir them into the chocolate mixture. Spoon the mixture into 4 individual cast-iron skillets and place them on a sheet pan. Bake for 22 minutes exactly. Don’t overbake! A toothpick inserted in the center will not come out clean. Serve warm with a scoop of ice cream.
Copyright 2014, Make It Ahead by Ina Garten, Clarkson Potter/Publishers, All Rights Reserved