The Lodge 12 inch cast-iron skillet is an essential cooking tool, bot heavy and heavy duty. Thankfully, it’s also cheap. I don’t use it for omelets or onions, but I do use it for cooking steaks, chops, burgers, and fish, and for frying potatoes. I use it on the stovetop, in the oven, on the grill, on the side burner, and camping. Use it to pound chicken breasts, press sandwiches, smash potatoes, and crush spices or nuts, too.
Cast iron gets very hot and transmits heat to food rapidly. It is the best way to get a crust on a burger. Click here to read more about the science of cast iron. After the surface is seasoned, it is practically nonstick. There are the only two downsides to cast iron. It is heavy, and it needs a little effort to care for. The metal must be heated and treated with cooking oil to keep it from rusting and create the nonstick properties. If you scrub it too hard, you can ruin the seasoning.
But really, the maintenance isn’t that hard. Click here for our complete guide to seasoning, cleaning, and repairing cast iron. The cheat sheet: just use a soft scrubbie and little or no soap. To restore the seasoning, rub it with oil, and bake the pan empty and upside down in a 500 degree oven or grill for an hour. Then turn off the oven or grill and let it cool down, removing the pan when it’s cool enough to handle.
I have two 12 inch cast iron frying pans: one for fish and one for everything else. The fish pan seems to always have a fishy smell when heated.
If you can find cast iron pans in garage sales or flea markets, get them because they are probably well seasoned. But recently manufacturers have begun shipping pre-seasoned pans. Get one with a lip to make pouring off grease easy, and an ear opposite the handle because these suckers are heavy. The Lodge Logic 12-Inch Pre-Seasoned Skillet is the gold standard.
Meathead, BBQ Hall of Famer - Founder and publisher of AmazingRibs.com, Meathead is known as the site's Hedonism Evangelist and BBQ Whisperer. He is also the author of the New York Times Best Seller "Meathead, The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling", named one of the "100 Best Cookbooks of All Time" by Southern Living.