Why Marcus Samuelsson Thinks Everyone Should Own A Cast Iron Skillet

If you haven't taken the plunge and purchased a cast iron skillet, despite everyone and their mother telling you that you absolutely have to have one, perhaps the amazing chef, restaurateur, cookbook author, and star of Iron Chef, Chopped, and Top Chef Masters Marcus Samuelsson will change your mind.

Samuelsson — whose most recent venture is Red Rooster Harlem — told Fine Cooking, "Everyone should have a cast iron skillet...It's the pan for everything. It goes easily from stovetop to oven, has fantastic heat conductivity that is even and constant, and the surface is perfection in nonstick. It's the tool I use most often."

The multiple James Beard Foundation Award winner and White House guest chef for President Obama also passed on some advice: "The best seasoned [skillets] are those that have been handed down through generations." Still, it's that seasoning business (what even is that?), as well as cast iron's nasty reputation for being hard to clean, that understandably makes some home cooks say: Why bother?

Cast iron skillets are the Swiss Army knife of cookware

There are a few reasons you should invest in a cast iron pan. As Marcus Samuelsson noted, cast iron delivers consistent heat. Cook's Illustrated points out that while this skillet will take longer to preheat, it retains a consistent temperature, even when you've added cold food to the pan.

Don't let the need to "season" the pan scare you away. Seasoning is the process of building up a layer of fat on the cast iron pan, making it stick-resistant. You can purchase a pre-seasoned pan or season one yourself with flaxseed, soybean, or sunflower oil, according to America's Test Kitchen. Simply rub the skillet with the oil, heat in the oven, and repeat until it's slick (via Serious Eats).

According to Bon Appetit, another great feature is the cast iron's amazing versatility: fry eggs, sear a pork chop, roast a chicken or make a stir fry. It's a roasting pan, stainless steel skillet, wok, and a non-stick pan in one useful tool. Finally, Epicurious points out cast iron is virtually indestructible. And despite what you've heard, it's a myth that you can't use soap on cast iron. And while you don't want to soak it, cleaning your pan with soap and water is perfectly fine if you're willing to keep the pan well-seasoned. 

The cast iron pan is the Swiss Army knife of cookware. Go ahead and splurge on one (they run from about $20-$275, according to Epicurious) for your kitchen.