The past couple of years has changed the way most of us cook—and work—at home. For Alexis deBoschnek, that meant a move from Los Angeles back to her hometown in upstate New York, and a shift from working as Buzzfeed Tasty’s test kitchen manager and YouTube host to writing her first cookbook, To the Last Bite—and developing the occasional recipe for Field Company, including a cast iron-pressed Cubano and a classic Chicken Pot Pie.

Alexis’s new book teaches readers how to choose (and use) ingredients more wisely while cutting back on food waste, and is packed with cast iron-friendly dishes including braised leeks, smash burgers, lamb phyllo pie, banana tarte tatin, and a blueberry Dutch baby.

We recently chatted with Alexis about her long personal history with cast iron cookware; here’s what she had to say:

Photo courtesy Alexis deBoschnek

What’s your personal history with cast iron?

I grew up in upstate New York, where there weren’t a lot of options for dining out. Luckily my mom is a great self-taught cook, very salt of the earth. She’d take us foraging for chanterelles, then cook them up in her cast iron skillet with butter and shallots—that sort of thing. I now have the cast iron pans she used when I was growing up, but I mostly use my Field Skillets.

When I got my Field I was like this is real cast iron cooking, this is what we’re going to use now.

How did you get introduced to our pans?

My fiancé turned me onto Field Company when we first met, so I’ve been using them for three-plus years. He gave me my first one. We’ve turned other people onto them as well—we’ve got a real Field fan club over here. Other brands I tried had been unremarkable, but when I got my Field I was like this is real cast iron cooking, this is what we’re going to use now.

What do you like about Field Skillets?

I like that they heat up evenly, that they’re easy to clean, and their weight. Aesthetically, they’re the most beautiful pans.

What Field Skillets do you own?

I have three sizes: No.8, No.10 and No.12. I like using a pan with lots of surface area, so I usually cook in the big ones.

Alexis deBoschnek's Skillet Chicken Pot Pie. Photo: Lauren V. Allen.

When do you reach for cast iron in your everyday cooking?

So many of my recipes are about getting a good sear on something, and nothing beats cast iron at that. With all my cooking there’s an emphasis on using lots of fat, usually olive oil, sometimes butter. That also goes hand in hand with using cast iron. I actually don’t own any nonstick pans, so I reach for cast iron if I’m frying eggs or cooking anything else that I don’t want to stick. I also use a second Field Skillet to smash down burgers and chicken.

How about live-fire cooking?

Living in the Catskills, our lives are dictated by the seasons, so during the summer months I’m doing most of my cooking outdoors, where I’ll use my Field Skillets on my old Weber grill or around the campfire. In colder months I cook in my fireplace on a Tuscan grill, and my cast iron works there as well. So much of my cookbook is about returning to the land and using what you have on hand. To me, cast iron represents that same ethos.

Do you use your Field Skillets for baking as well?

Yes! I use them to make things like cornbread, spoon cakes, and Dutch babies. If you pre-order my book, I’ll send you a few bonus recipes, including my Sour Cream Cornbread. It’s the best cornbread I’ve ever tasted. It’s not too thick, not too cakey, made with no sugar and just the right amount of salt, and has an amazing crust on the bottom and sides thanks to the cast iron skillet.

Alexis deBoschnek's new book, To the Last Bite.

How do you approach cast iron seasoning?

My number one thing is to take care of it right away when I’m done cooking. If you do that, you’re not going to run into any issues. If my pan doesn’t need much cleaning, I’ll wipe it out, add a little bit of neutral oil, get the skillet hot, wipe it again, and it’s good to go.

What if your pan needs a deeper cleaning?

If there’s any debris left in my skillet, I’ll add a good layer of kosher salt and work it into the pan with a paper towel, then dump out the salt. I usually don’t even rinse the pan out with water. I just scrub it with salt, do my seasoning thing, and it’s good as new.

When other people use my Field Skillets, I’m very firm about telling them not to scrub my pans with anything other than salt. Don’t mess with my seasoning!