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Cast Iron 101

+ an easy tortila pizza recipe

The cast iron skillet is a pan we know and love – they’re not flashy or expensive, and most of us already have one sitting in our kitchen at this very moment. So, why does this everyday pan deserve a 101? Because while many of us own one, not everyone is familiar with the (low) maintenance required to allow their cast iron pan to shine at its full potential. Yes, when a cast iron is well seasoned, it really does shine – more on that later. With a little care, the cast iron skillet is magic. After all, you get what you give, right?

Why cast iron?

Before we dive into the care routine, you should first know what makes these pans so magical. If you don’t own own a cast irons skillet yet, consider this the portion of the article where we try to sell you the cast iron lifestyle: 

  • Cast iron skillets are versatile; you can move food from the stove top to the oven with ease.
  • These pans are also durable and will last 100+ years, if cared for correctly.
  • They’re semi-non-stick when appropriately seasoned – don’t worry, we’re getting to this seasoning business soon!
  • Slower to heat, sure – but once heated, cast iron retains heat better than standard pans and with even heat distribution.
  • Searing is the cast iron specialty – good for steaks, vegetables, fajitas, any food where you want that extra crust and char!
  • They’re affordable! Find them at Target, a kitchen store or Lodge’s website for under $30. We recommend a 10.25” skillet size with deep sides for starters.

What is seasoning?

If you purchase a new cast iron skillet nowadays, you will likely find them ‘pre-seasoned.’ Seasoning is a term used to describe the process of baking oil onto the cast iron’s surface. Maintaining this seasoning is important because the baked oil is what gives the skillet its desirable cooking surface and also prevents the pan from rusting. Every time you cook with oils and fats, you are tending to your pan’s seasoning. Cast iron skillets only get better with time.

Take Care

Washing 

  • Don’t wash your pan in the dishwasher! You’ve got to wash cast irons the old fashioned way.
  • Resist from violently washing and scrubbing your cookware, after use, to maintain seasoning. A quick rinse with water and light scrub will do!
  • You can use a little soap, but it’s not always necessary. Again, keeping the seasoning is a priority.
  • If there’s food stuck to your skillet, add water to your pan and simmer for a few minutes. Then attempt a light scrub and rinse. 

Drying

  • Leaving water in your cast iron will lead to rusting – don’t leave your skillet wet!
  • After washing, immediately dry your pan with a paper towel or dish towel. 
  • Don’t panic if you see black residue on the towel; this is the seasoning.

Seasoning

  • After washing and before storing your skillet for ‘next time,’ lightly coat the pan with cooking oil.
  • The easiest way to do so is to pour a small amount of oil into the pan and rub all over the skillet’s surface with a paper towel. Use a neutral oil, like Canola.
  • You do want the pan to glisten, after this coating, but don’t leave any oil residue!

Simple, right? Now that you know the basics to care for a cast iron skillet, you deserve to discover the secret of cast iron prepared tortilla pizzas. This recipe may sound childish, but it’ll knock your socks off! Only 10 minutes for prep and another 5 to bake – recipe below!


 

Tortilla Pizzas

Ingredients \

  • Flour tortillas, taco size will fit a 10.25″ skillet
  • Pizza sauce
  • Mozzarella cheese, shredded or fresh for a Margherita pizza
  • Toppings of your choice!
  • Olive oil

The Process \ 

1

Place oven rack near broiler, leave enough room for your cast iron skillet and turn broiler on high. Preheat skillet by placing on a stovetop burner set to Medium heat.

2

Once handle is warm to touch, pour a small dose of olive oil into the cast iron. Place a tortilla in the skillet (big tortilla bubbles up!), then spin tortilla in the pan to evenly distribute the oil.

3

Spoon pizza sauce onto the tortilla and spread sauce to all edges of the tortilla – no need for a crust in this recipe! Add cheese and toppings of choice.

4

Your pizza should only need 2-3 minutes on the stovetop, which is about as much time as you need to top your pizza. Once the bottom of the tortilla starts to crisp, move your cast iron under your oven broiler.

5

Let the broiler work its magic for ~ 1 min. Then open your oven and rotate the skillet. Close oven door again and broil for another min. Keep a close watch, the broiling process should take a maximum of 3 minutes. You’ll know the pizza is done when the tortilla starts to bubble and the edges are golden.

6

Remove skillet from oven and slide pizza onto a cutting board. Top with Parmesan, chili flakes, fresh basil … or drizzle with olive oil!

7

Because these pizzas are so quick to make, I eat mine as I make my next creation. As soon as one pizza is done, you can re-oil the skillet and start on another. Repeat until hunger is no longer an issue.

8

Remember to use the ‘Take Care’ tips above to tend to your cast iron skillet, before storing for next time!