Let me assure you that it most definitely does. After all, what would you say about a pan costing less than $25 that lasts your entire life? A pan that can be used to saute, deep fry, caramelize and bake? A pan that keeps your food hot while you're eating your meal? A non-stick pan that you can heat up to 500 degrees? About the only thing you can't do with this pan is scramble an egg, and even that is possible if you use enough butter.
I'm talking about a 10" cast iron skillet.
But before we talk about all the delicious things you can make in this pan, let's address a couple of issues up front. There are two, and they are related: the mythical "seasoning" process that cast-iron requires, and cleaning the pan once this seasoning has been achieved.
I recently watched a horrific YouTube video about cleaning a cast-iron pan. First the video advised a thorough rinsing of the (still hot!) pan, followed by a gentle wiping clean. Next, viewers were advised to pour a 1/2 cup of salt in the pan and get to work with a wad of paper towels and some serious elbow grease. I assure you that if my 25+ year old pan required such TLC, I would have sold it at a rummage sale 24 years ago.
Here's all you need to know:
Start by buying a pan that is "pre-seasoned". The best brand is Lodge, and the pre-seasoned 10" pan that I own sells for $14.97 on Amazon. Free delivery with Amazon Prime!
You can also season the pan by either wiping it with vegetable oil and baking it for an hour at 350 degrees OR cooking 1/2# of bacon in it. I know which I prefer!
After use, clean the pan by gently scrubbing it out with a Dobie pad (or similar), using a little soap if needed. After all, do I really want this morning's apple pancake tasting like last night's fajitas? I can speak from experience on this: apple pancake and cumin is not a good flavor blend.
Wipe it dry, or if you are cursed with an electric stove like I am, leave the wet pan on a burner that you have just turned off and let it sit until it's completely dry.
If by chance, you scrub a little too hard and see a bit of shiny metal showing through your seasoning, just repeat the seasoning process above (yay, more crispy bacon!).
The only negative about cast iron is the weight; the 10" skilled I use weighs over 4# when empty. I store mine either on the stovetop or in the oven since I use it every day.
Many years ago, my husband and I visited my 85 year old grandma at her home in Longview, Washington. When we arrived, she had prepared a crispy pork roast in her 60+ year old cast iron dutch oven. "I'm not much of a cook" she said, as we sat down to her meal, but I can assure you, that pork roast was good!
Here are a few or my favorite cast iron pan recipes:
Salted Caramel Sauce
Steak and potato salad (bonus, use up your leftovers!)