I love my cast iron cookware. I almost exclusively use cast iron, and have found that it heats more evenly than any other pan in the house. Well seasoned, it has a better non-stick coating than stainless steel, aluminum or copper. Cast Iron can go from the stove-top directly into the oven. They are also extremely cheap compared to any other cookware. A 12″ pre-seasoned skillet costs $20 and will last you for the rest of eternity.
I find that even a pre-seasoned pan, needs a little TLC before you use it. First of all rinse the pan in hot water (no soap). Dry the pan thoroughly and coat with a generous dollop of oil. Wipe the oil all over the inside and outside of the pan, there should be no puddles. I prefer olive oil or coconut oil, but anything will do. Place the pan in a 350 degree oven and bake for 1 hour. Turn the oven off, and leave the pan inside until cool.
The first few foods that you cook in your new pan, should be cooked in oil. Sauté or fry something. This will add additional layers of oil, and really saturate all of the pores of the pan with oil.
To Clean your pan after cooking. First of all, don’t wait until the pan is completely cold and the food is stuck on and congealed and impossible to remove (if you forget, warm the pan again on the stove-top before trying to clean it). Grab the warm pan and scrub it under hot running water. Again, no soap! I know it feels weird to use no soap, but you don’t want to remove all that seasoning you worked so hard on do you? Scrub with a plain (no soap added) brillo pad, plastic pot scrubbie or wash cloth. I find that plastic bread ties work wonders. I also make scrubbies out of the plastic net bags that onion/potatoes come in, and they are awesome too.
Dry the pan completely. Add a Tbsp of oil to the pan, and coat pan inside and out with oil. I oil my pan after every single use, and it is completely non-stick now. I just made crepes in it yesterday without a problem.
Did I mention that all food cooked in your cast iron pan will have extra iron in it?
Did I mention that a cast iron pan keeps your food warm for ages, because they stay hot for so long?
Did I mention that a cast iron dutch oven makes the most perfect boule of bread in the world?