Ladies, keep hands off cast iron skillets
By Ronny Oswalt
Hunting for help and fishing for answers on the home front.
Q. My husband cooks most of his fish and game in his collection of cast iron skillets. He seems to have a weird fetish for these ghastly pans and won’t let me touch them.
He has even told me to never wash them and that soap will never be used on them. Is this a common thing among the outdoor fraternity?
Also, do you think this is about cast iron, or does it have more to do with his overall aversion to soap?
Afraid to Eat at the Cabin
A. I have a couple of books devoted to cast iron cooking and a hundred or so about fish and game cookery. I also own more than a few pieces of cast iron cookware. Now, you surely understand that I am on his side.
There is nothing weird about using and taking good care of cast iron cookware.
It is surely the absolute best for frying and is the only sensible choice for many culinary delights such as blackened catfish, garlic and butter sautéed venison tenderloin, and hunter’s gravy.
This same cookware is just another cheap pan if not properly maintained.
An outdoorsman who uses cast iron to cook his catch carries on a tradition that is centuries old.
During the development of this tradition it was learned that soap and excessive scrubbing would not allow the proper carbonized seasoning to develop on the iron.
Even after the passing of harsh lye soap, aficionados of cast iron learned that any soap reduces it to a worthless rusty piece of scrap iron. Food will stick and flavors will be lost if you mistreat cast iron.
Modern inventions such as non-stick coatings and dish-washing machines spelled the final demise of cast iron traditions in most kitchens.
It is true, however, that some had lost the art long before. One of my grandmothers never had a good skillet. The “cleanliness is next to godliness” mentality destroyed hers.
So it comes as no surprise that a cadre of dirty men has been the lone protector of a fine tradition and of some the best table fare in the world. We take our duties seriously and enjoy them as well.
All cast iron is not the same. The cheap imported skillets with the ridiculous wooden handles are not fit for any man’s fish and game.
I found a box full of them in a dumpster a few years ago. These broken handled skillets were in a Dixie beer box so I knew they came from Gosh Bigley’s house.
Even more intriguing was the presence of a well-seasoned #8 polished surface Griswold skillet, arguably the best cornbread skillet ever made. It is mine now.
Gosh had accidentally damaged one of Gosh-Ann’s WWE posters and took a beating for it. She worked him over with those cheap wooden handled Taiwan skillets.
Every time she tried to really do some damage to him a wooden handle broke off. She got even angrier then and in her rage she realized that she needed a real assault skillet such as her prized Griswold cornbread skillet.
Twin brother Josh arrived on the scene and saved him from any major damage by the Griswold. Josh then hurried about collecting the broken skillets and took them to the dumpster. He took the fine Griswold, too.
He doesn’t want the ladies to touch a skillet either – not after seeing what they can do with one.