Tag Archives: seasoning a cast iron skillet

Bacon Brackets: First Round, Supermarket Style

Gentle Readers, the people have spoken. Here is the Round 1, Bacon Brackets: Supermarket Style. Remember, the goal is for you to play along at home, so feel free to test these fine bacons yourself. Some themes have been emerging.

I love bacon this much. And coffee isn't half bad either.

I love bacon this much. And coffee isn't half bad either.

Bacon Trends:

1. Keep it thin. I’ve seen several posts condemning floppy bacon, though thick-cut is marketed left and right as being gourmet (possibly pronounced with a hard “t”). Thick has been equated with “chewy” and generally unpleasant. Who knew?

When in doubt: bacon is the answer.

When in doubt: bacon is the answer.

2. Crispy rules, briquette does not. See above.

A BLT, recently ordered and consumed with glee by The Practical Cooks Junior

A BLT, recently ordered and consumed with glee by The Practical Cooks Junior

3. People like bacon. A given, but bears repeating.

So how do you cook the bacon? Though Cook’s Illustrated promotes the oven-baked method, which I’ve used, I have never been completely satisfied with the crispiness of the results. They advocate 400 degree oven, rotate, I think 20 minutes total. For me it worked okay, but caused a lot of smoke and heartache.

Bacon on a Baking Sheet

Bacon on a Baking Sheet

I like the skillet method, working in batches, draining the grease for disposal (can headed for the recycling bin) or use (glass jar). My friend, FoodEngineer, advocates cooking bacon in your cast iron skillet on the grill. Why? Because you can re-season your skillet and avoid a mess, all at once. If you’ve never cooked in your cast iron on the grill, you should try it. It’s fun and functional.

Enough with the pre-game commentary, the Supermarket Bacon Bracket is as follows:

Supermarket Bacon Brackets: Round 1

Supermarket Bacon Brackets: Round 1

If you can’t read that, it’s Oscar Mayer Uncured, Hormel Black Label, Wright Hickory Smoked, and Smithfield Hickory Smoked. Thanks to all who submitted favorites, and there’s still a little time to submit for the other categories, listed here, so get on it.

Ideas, compliments, queries? Email me at practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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On Sunday, it’s time for Weekly Menus!

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Kitchen Tool Talk: An Ode to My Cast Iron Skillet

Gentle Readers, is there anything better than a cast iron skillet? Yes, The Practical Cook would argue that one you get as a hand-me-down is better still. My 10-inch cast iron skillet is from my Granny, featured in the header picture. And if you haven’t added a cast-iron skillet to your cooking toolbox, here’s why you should.

Squash frying in the cast-iron skillet

Squash frying in the cast-iron skillet

An Ode to My Cast Iron Skillet: 5 Reasons to Own and Love It

1. Cornbread. It creates the perfect shape, the perfect crispness, and has a convenient handle for easy oven removal. And do I really have to defend cornbread? Fry some bacon in it first, then make cornbread. You can say thank you later.

Cornbread with Molasses

Cornbread with Molasses

2. Sauteed greens. Studies have indicated that there is some transfer of iron to food cooked, so I say, why not double down and go all Popeye on the spinach? The high heat tolerance makes it perfect for a quick flash-saute of greens of any stripe, and I use mine for spinach constantly.

Green Garlic + Spinach (Less Fluffy Now)

Green Garlic + Spinach (Less Fluffy Now)

3. Preheating. You can get a cast iron skillet hotter and keep it hotter than any nonstick I’ve ever tried. I use nonstick pans, but I am not crazy about any kind of serious heat used on them. So when the French toast recipe of my dreams says preheat the cast iron skillet over medium for 5 minutes, I can do just that.

Challah for French Toast Frying in the Pan!

Challah for French Toast Frying in the Pan!

4. Easy cleaning. This is the one reason I think people shy away from cast iron. You don’t clean them in the traditional manner using commercial detergent, but they’re not hard to maintain. I use salt or baking soda to scrape off anything stuck, I wipe down with vegetable oil, I re-season on occasion with a bake in the oven, and I cook bacon whenever I can. That really puts a nice patina on the skillet.

Sausage, greens, and pierogie

Sausage, greens, and pierogie

5. Longevity. Yours and the pan’s. I still don’t have my Granny’s strength in either a) wielding the thing or b) touching it with bare hands. Clearly, The Practical Cook’s generation is a soft one in comparison. So we need to toughen up! Oh, and the pan lasts a really long time too.

Cast-Iron Skillet Getting Hot Hot Hot!

Cast-Iron Skillet Getting Hot Hot Hot!

Of course, every time I cook with this pan, my Granny is in the kitchen with me. That’s reason enough for near-daily use. Thank you Granny for starting me down this road. Maybe one day the sausage gravy I make in your pan will equal yours.

Are you a cast-iron fan? Share your story in the comments section below! I’m feeling a comments-based giveaway coming on soon. So get some practice now, comment today!

Send your ideas, challenges, and bacon recommendations to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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Up next, Mango and Blackberry Parfait.

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Filed under Kitchen Tool Talk