When it comes to cookware, people tend to develop very strong allegiances. There are the Le Creuset collectors who proudly display their colorful “French ovens” and fondue sets; the Dansk diehards completely smitten with the lightweight, Danish-chic design of each saucepan; home cooks who will use nothing but gorgeous (but, uh, pricey) copper vessels; and even people who swear by the old school, aluminum stylings of Magnalite.
For me, though, the heft of a traditional cast-iron skillet has always felt best in my hand.
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My full-sized, 15-inch cast-iron skillet is a true workhorse. It goes from stovetop to oven and back without missing a beat (or burning) and is the kind of steady, sturdy kitchen tool that—through its very construction—makes it a snap to deliver flavorful, evenly-cooked meals whether I’m sautéing, roasting, shallow frying, broiling or pretty much anything else. My cast-iron is also an heirloom passed down from my grandparents (yes, these skillets are that long-lasting and durable) that I've carried between dozens of houses and apartments, never once flinching at its mass while packing boxes.
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But recently, while looking for a day-to-day cooking tool with a little less girth, I found a companion piece—or little brother, if you will—for my full-sized cast iron.
The"extra small" 6.5-inch Lodge cast iron skillet has quickly become my everyday go-to for individual breakfasts, lunch and anytime that I don’t need to make a larger, full-sized-cast-iron amount of something. Want to fry a perfect, single egg? Give the little skillet a go! Want to sauté some greens for just one person? This is the perfectly sized piece of cast-iron cookware—no hauling out 'ol faithful required.
Using this “mini-me” version of my beloved, bigger cast iron has helped to cut down significantly on my food waste by not making too much for a single serving then relegating the leftovers to linger sadly in the refrigerator for days on end. It’s diminutive size appeals to kids, and encourages them to get involved (while supervised, of course) in their own meal-prep process, cooking on their smaller cast iron right alongside the bigger version. The “extra small” cast-iron is also far more comfortably portable than its larger sibling, making it ideal to take on camping trips and to any outdoor, over-the-fire cooking excursion. Even more exciting, with a cost that rings in at just under $8, your new, prized cookware possession doesn’t have to come with a hefty price tag.
Plus, let’s face it: A tiny cast-iron skillet is just downright adorable. How could anyone resist?
To Buy: "extra small" 6.5-inch Lodge cast iron skillet, walmart.com ($7.99)
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