My grandmother’s cast-iron skillet (pictured) could be called a “fait-tout,” or does-everything, pan. She mostly fried chicken in it but also used it for baking cornbread; braising vegetables with water, butter, and sugar; searing pot roast; and crushing nuts! It’s mine now; it was handed down like a family treasure, and I treat it like one.
Seasoning is easy, and essential, even if you buy a pre-seasoned pan. The iron forms a natural patina over time, and it becomes non-stick without toxic teflon. But you must re-season it occasionally to maintain the coating. Rub a cooking oil that has a high smoking point, such as peanut or canola, all over the skillet; wipe excess off with a towel; and place in a 350-degree oven for an hour. To preserve the surface, do not use detergents or harsh scrubbers to wash it–and never ever soak it or put it in a dishwasher. If the seasoning is well and consistently done, you should be able to rinse with a soft cloth to clean. Dry immediately with a towel to prevent any rusting.
If you don’t have a relic like mine, I highly recommend a new one: