The Cast Iron Skillet (from CSN Stores) — An Essential For Any NYC Kitchen

13 Dec

Yum, raw meat!

When it comes to living in New York City, there is nothing more coveted than space. In fact, space is so limited in NYC, landlords often convert standard one-bedroom apartments into two-bedrooms (aka “a conversion”). So upon receiving a $35 gift certificate from the nice folks at CSN Stores, it got me thinking—what compact kitchen item could be used for one or two cooking purposes? Alas, it led me to the very versatile Emeril Lagasse brand “cast iron skillet,” which costs just $24.95! The cast iron skillet looks like a heavy-set stove-top frying pan, but it can also be used in a high-degree oven. What better for cramped Manhattan kitchen cooking?

To prove the versatility of the cast iron skillet, I decided to make one of my favorite foods, meatballs. I love meatballs because, like the cast iron skillet, they can take on many forms. For instance, you can have meatballs in the morning, afternoon, night, consume them hot or cold, and accompany them with or without spaghetti. They also come in all shapes, sizes, and can use a variety of meats and vegetables–like mine, which are Turkey Mushroom Asparagus Meatballs.

Browned meatballs. The true sign of stove-top cooking.

However, whenever I decide to cook meatballs, I always run into the same inner-debate–how am I going to cook them? If I cook them on the stove-top, I run the risk of not cooking the meatballs through (nothing is worse than burnt meatballs with a rare interior), but, if I just cook them in the oven, I never get those beautiful grill marks on the outside of the meatballs. Granted, I could just cook the meatballs on the stove-top to get the grill marks and then transfer them into a baking dish for the oven to secure my meatballs are cooked, but that’s a whole lot of work on the cooking and cleaning sides.

This, of course, is where the value of the cast iron skillet comes into play. I first start cooking my Turkey Mushroom Asparagus Meatballs in the cast iron skillet on the stove-top. See those grill marks forming? That’s the sign of a great meatball! You don’t want the meatballs to just have one grilled side, so you have to let all sides of the meatball have a turn face-down. Once all sides are browned, turn off the stove’s flame, add-in your tomato sauce, and put the cast iron skillet in the 350-400 degree pre-heated oven. Since cast iron skillet’s can survive a high-heat oven, there’s no need to worry about it melting or exploding.

Close-up, beauty shot.

I like letting the meatballs cook in tomato sauce for as long as possible, but sometimes it’s hard to ignore my stomach–so anywhere from 15-30 minutes is usually sufficient. Unlike a regular baking pan or regular skillet, you cannot place the hot cast iron skillet in cold water. If you do, you run the risk of cracking your cast iron skillet! Your best bet is to just let the cast iron skillet naturally cool on the counter, and then, once cold to the touch, you can rinse it out. And notice how instead of a cleaning a regular skillet and baking tray, you just have one magnificent cast iron skillet to clean? I sure did.

The addition of the cast iron skillet to my tiny New York City kitchen has been a blessing. And the mere idea of using, storing, and cleaning one less pan is reason enough to make cast iron skillets a pre-requisite for living in a typical NYC apartment. I urge all of you to buy your own cast iron skillet at CSN Stores!

Don't forget to add tomato sauce!

Put those puppies, err, I mean meatballs in the oven.

That's what I call a cast iron skillet meatball!

Mangia!

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2 Responses to “The Cast Iron Skillet (from CSN Stores) — An Essential For Any NYC Kitchen”

  1. Babygirl December 13, 2010 at 5:23 pm #

    Everyone needs a cast iron pan in there home. It is definitely essential. Mine has been passed down from 3 generations in the south. I enjoyed reading this post..

    • benberkon December 13, 2010 at 10:07 pm #

      Thanks, Babygirl.

      There is no doubt the cast iron skillet is a must, and I’ve heard many similar stories to your about cast iron skillets being handed down generation-to-generation. No kitchen is complete without one!

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