“Both of my grandmothers, from either end of Tennessee—McNairy County on the Tennessee River and Sevier County in Appalachia—cooked every day in cast iron. Mind you, these women could not have been more different. The South is a big place, and there are hundreds of miles and hundreds of years of diverging histories between folks in the Mississippi Delta and those in the Smokies. Tennessee is long, but cast iron is one common denominator.”
“The only tried-and-true way to season a cast-iron skillet is with lard.”
~ John Martin Taylor, Southern-Food Historian
Buy a Lodge cast-iron Pan they make the best in the world. They come pre-seasoned nowadays, but if you have your Great-Gramma’s pan that has been neglected or you just need to know how to season your pan here is an easy guide:
- Wash a new skillet with warm soapy water once to remove the thin coating of wax applied at the factory. That’s the last time you should ever wash it with soap.
- Have the butcher grind enough fresh pork fat to nearly fill the skillet. Place a thin layer of water (about ⅛ inch) in the bottom, and then add the fat. Put the skillet in the oven set to 225 degrees or on top of the stove over very low heat.
- Melt the fat slowly; it can take an hour or more. When the solid matter (called cracklings) turns brown and sinks to the bottom, strain the fat into a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid and wipe out the skillet. After the fat has cooled, cover it and store in the refrigerator. You now have rendered lard for biscuits and piecrusts—and a seasoned skillet.
- After each use, rub the inside of the skillet with bacon grease and wipe out the excess. The salt in the bacon grease will help preserve the skillet and keep food from sticking to the surface. If you must wash it to remove any dust or bits of burned food, don’t even think about putting it in the dishwasher. Use only cold water and a natural-bristle brush, then dry it thoroughly and wipe down with bacon grease.
Source: “The Southener’s Handbook,” by Garden & Gun