Not so long ago, almost every cook in America kept a cast iron skillet on the stove. "It wasn't until after World War II that other metals began to be used for cookware," says Mark Kelly, marketing and promotions manager at Lodge Cast Iron in South Pittsburg, Tenn., America's sole remaining manufacturer of cast iron cookware. Aluminum and stainless steel pots and pans were lighter, and the advent of nonstick coating (ostensibly) made them easier to clean. The end result: the cast iron skillet moved from the top of the stove to the bottom of a cabinet—if a cook owned one at all.
There are lots of reasons to turn back the culinary clock. As Kelly says, "You can perform every kind of cooking style in a cast iron skillet—sauté, sear, braise, deepfry, bake—plus the pan provides consistent heat at high and low temperatures." A cast iron skillet is not only nonstick, it's "virtually indestructible and the only cookware you can use on the stove, in the oven, on the grill, and back again," says Kelly. Check out these recipes to see what we mean.