Answers to Go with Susan Smith

Q. My daughters were home for Thanksgiving. They were both coveting the cast-iron skillet that I used for making cornbread. I am not ready to part with their grandma’s classic skillet. And there are two girls and one skillet. I thought I’d get them identical new cast iron skillets for Christmas. Can you help me find a recommendation of which brand is best?

A. Yes. “Cook It In Cast Iron: Kitchen-Tested Recipes for the One Pan That Does It All” by the editors at America’s Test Kitchen compares brands.

Their top choice for a traditional cast iron frying pan is the Lodge Classic Cast Iron 12 inch Skillet which should cost around $35.

They explain why they prefer it: “Our winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior, and it only got better. It browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors.

“Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch.”

If you have deep pockets, you could give them something fancier than Granny had – enameled cast-iron. Here they recommend Le Creuset’s signature 11.75-inch Iron Handle Skillet at around $180.

Why did the Test Kitchen editors like this pricey skillet? They write, “With flaring sides, an oversize helper handle, wide pour spouts, a satiny interior, and balanced weight, this expensive but beautifully made pan is a pleasure to cook in.

“Our only quibbles: A small piece of cornbread stuck, and scrambled eggs stuck a little (but scrubbed out easily). After abuse testing, the pan still looked nearly new.”

Want to add a stocking stuffer? Our source recommends the CM Scrubber by KnappMade. The linked square of stainless-steel chain mail effortlessly lifted away any stuck-on bits without damaging the pan’s finish.

The scrubber took some scrubbing to become completely clean before the next use, but it dried quickly and didn’t rust.

A copy of this book would be another nice gift. It’s available from Amazon for under $20 and includes both tips and recipes.

San Marcos Daily Record

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