You can easily spend $200 on a skillet. And a set of pots and pans made from some weird copper alloy sandwiched between stainless steel with a hi-tech coating will set you back the price of a used car. Before you shoot me horrible e-mails and comments about how I don’t appreciate the technological advances that have made cooking accessible for lots of people (ignoring the fact that most people can’t afford this stuff) and how I am a Luddite, I like fancy pots and pans just as much as the next guy.
But my Lodge cast-iron skillet cost me $25, and I use it almost as much as my fancy non-stick sauté pan. I use it for burgers and seared tuna and even fried chicken. Actually, the fried chicken was great, the best I have ever made, but I went all-out and brined it and gave it a good buttermilk soaking and then fried it in shortening. I am not sure that it’s worth the trouble on a small scale. Anyway, the point is that this inexpensive pan is incredibly useful, and no more so than for roast chicken, which is what I made last night. What I like about it is not just its ability to hold an amazing amount of heat, but that the surface is practically non-stick if maintained well. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t have any non-stick cookware that can go into a 550° oven without melting into a messy puddle of slag on the bottom of my stove. And I can heat the admittedly heavy beast on top of the stove until it’s practically glowing red. I have one of those nifty infra-red thermometers with the laser pointer (great toy!), and according to it I can get the pan up to 600°, and that’s better than an amp that goes to 11.
I split the chicken and pressed it flat, and then just put a bit of salt and pepper on it. I cheated a bit and used duck fat in the pan, because I am worried that there isn’t enough fat in my diet. Then I seared the chicken, skin side down, until it was nice and golden brown. I took it out of the pan, put some cut up potatoes and carrots into the pan and tossed them to coat with the duck fat. I put the chicken back in, skin side up, and roasted in a hot oven for about 45 minutes. Easy, quick, and it tasted great. And all because of the wonderful folks at Lodge Manufacturing.