One of the greatest pieces in a Southern cook's arsenal is a good cast iron skillet. I have several that were handed down to me from my great-grandmother, and one that Jordan bought me for my birthday this year.
The trick, though, is cleaning these suckers properly. Left unattended and uncared for, they get rusted and persnickety. A good cast iron pan should release the food once it's done cooking, but a poorly cared for cast iron will burn everything you try to make, leaving a sticky, charred warzone behind. It can be frustrating and eventually make you choose to abandon cast iron altogether.
But don't! Once you get the hang of it, you and your cast iron will be best friends for the rest of your life. Because they'll last you that long if you treat 'em right.
I let a couple of my pans get too dirty recently, so I hunted for the best method to rejuvenate them. I found a few videos online and thought I'd share for all my Southern girls out there who need to fry a piece of chicken the best way: in a cast iron skillet. I've been seasoning and caring for my pans in this method (thanks, Crisco!) ever since I saw this and they work like a dream.
Hope it helps!
On cleaning and seasoning:
On restoring cast iron that's too far gone to season or clean:
Note: this video uses oil instead of Crisco, but I'd use Crisco. It's a wonder-product.