- Essays: On The Road (And A Little Off)



Rockvale TN February 7 2009 --

Take a skillet. not a frying pan.  A frying
pan is steel.  A skillet is cast iron.
It's black, not shiny silver. The outside
is roughish, the inside is smooth.
Pricey new skillets come pre-seasoned, but
if you find an old one in your granny's
chicken house, DO WASH IT IN SOAP AND
WATER!  Gets the dried-on chickenshit off it.

Now dry the skillet real good with cloth or
paper towels.  Put in on a burner for a few
minutes to get any water you may have
missed out of it.  A couple of minutes
oughta do it.
Let it cool off before you pick it up.

Some will swear by lard, but they's just
backwoods elitists.  Usually named Skeeter,
except in Florida and Louisiana where they
go by Gator.   For you vegans out there,
Crisco will do just fine.

What you wanna do is coat the inside of the
skillet evenly with the Crisco.  Pretend
it's a saddle. You wanna rub and rub and
work the Crisco into every leetle pore of
the inside.  Don't, whatever you do, leave
big ol glops of der Crisco anywhere in or
on the skillet because that will screw up
the whole operation by catching fire.

Maybe you could take your skillet out onto
the porch and sit on the sofa if you're so
blessedly Southern as to have living room
furniture out there, or just sit on the
front steps in the brightening morning
lovingly and gently but firmly working the
Crisco (or, OKAY, lard or bacon grease
which has been strained to get out the
grit) anyway just your and your skillet and
your Crisco or lard.  Do not worry about
your credit card debt or think of that sad
affair while you do this, for feng shui is
a powerful thing, and you really want good
chi when you fry your pork chops or tofu.
Try to face north-east while you're at it.

Now the heat...
Some cooks I know season a skillet really
well by putting it in their grill...really!

But what works for me is to put the
lovingly massaged skillet into an oven at
400 degrees  for about two hours.  Then
turn off the oven and let the skillet cool
to room temperature in there.  Drink a
beer, smoke a joint or practice ukulele
while you wait.

You now have a jewel, the gem of all your
culinary apparati, which if you only EVER
wash with  water, NEVER with soap, will
serve you well and long.

panama red