Season 17, Episode 1 Recap: Cast Iron is Back!

The 2017 season of America’s Test Kitchen TV is here, and Bridget and Julia want you to break out your cast-iron skillets.

Published Jan. 9, 2017.

The moment you’ve all been patiently waiting for has finally arrived—the 2017 season of America’s Test Kitchen premiered this weekend! (Want to know where and when America’s Test Kitchen airs in your area? Enter your zip code into our station finder.) Hosts Bridget Lancaster and Julia Collin Davison kicked the season off with a bang, cooking up some New York strip steaks with a beautiful crust topped with a decadent herb butter. Adam Ried extolled the virtues of a well-designed paper towel holder, while Dan Souza sautéed his fingers in the name of science before showing Julia how to cook the best butterflied chicken in a cast-iron skillet. (Read our review of cast-iron skillets.) 

America's Test Kitchen TV

"Cast Iron Staples"

In this episode, hosts Bridget Lancaster and Julia Collin Davison kick things off with a recipe for steak cooked in a ripping hot cast-iron skillet, while Dan Souza sautés his fingers in the name of science.   
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Five Takeaways from the Episode

1. Cast-iron Skillets are Making a Comeback:  They’re nearly indestructible, and you can use them to make everything from a loaf of bread to an apple pie to crispy roasted chicken, as we demonstrate in this episode. Goodbye Teflon, hello cast iron. Also, a cast-iron skillet is probably the only piece of kitchen gear that actually improves the more you use it.

2. The Best Way to Preheat Your Cast-Iron Skillet is in the Oven: And to prove it, Dan sautéed his fingers in a stainless steel pan and a cast-iron skillet. Cast iron is a relatively poor conductor of heat, and is therefore difficult to heat evenly. To do so, we find that the oven is our best friend. Put your cast-iron skillet in a cold oven, crank it to 500 degrees, and let the skillet heat evenly. Cast-iron skillets retain thermal energy incredibly well, so when you take it out the heat will be evenly distributed across the skillet’s surface—and you’ll be ready to make the best steak you’ve ever eaten.

3. When it Comes to Paper Towel Holders, Weight Matters: And the magic number is two pounds. Any lighter and the holder skid all around the counter, any heavier and it felt more like an exercise weight.

4. Moisture on Meat Prevents Browning: Whether you’re using your cast-iron skillet to  sear steaks or cook a butterflied chicken, be sure to pat the meat dry before cooking.

5. Flipping is Actually the Best Way to Get a Great Crust on Your Steak: As opposed to leaving the steak alone, it’s best to flip it several times during the cooking process, gradually turning the temperature down as it cooks. This way the crust won’t get too thick, and the interior of the steak will cook to a perfect medium-rare.

Quote of the Week: “You don’t actually need teeth to eat this, it is so tender.” —Bridget Lancaster, after taking a bite of the New York strip steak

Can't wait for next week's episode? Read these interviews and get to know the cast of America's Test Kitchen before it airs: 

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