Teddy Roosevelt spoke softly and carried a big stick. Thomas Gates of West Melbourne speaks softly and carries a big skillet. A huge skillet. A skillet you call “sir.”
The Mack Daddy’s Blackener Skillet, which Gates crafted 25 years after a cooking malfunction while vacationing on Captiva Island drove him to become an inventor, is the Arnold Schwarzenegger to the Danny DeVito of regular skillets.
At 12 pounds, the cast-iron is twice as thick as regular skillets, and were it not for the fact that its rectangular shape is also oversized, it could certainly inflict serious damage as a personal protection device.
However, the Blackener is not a fighter, but a lover. Made to last a lifetime, the Blackener has plenty of smitten fans and has sometimes been the cause of additional ill will during divorce proceedings, because both parties so adored it that they wanted to keep it after the marriage was dissolved.
“I have people who tell me they are still using the skillets they bought 25 years ago,” said Gates, of Melbourne.
Back during that Captiva vacation, Gates had wanted to blacken grouper. The conventional cast iron skillet he used just didn’t hack it. First, the grouper became immediately obscured by smoke, but when Gates finally saw the fish again and turned it over, he realized the fish had cooled down and there was not much blackening happening.
Gates marketed the Blackener for many years at outlets such as Home Shopping Network, but eventually went on to other pursuits. A good skillet is hard to find, however, so the Blackener is back.
“It is twice as thick as a regular skillet,” Gates said.
The thickness is necessary to produce a true blackening experience. Once this skillet is hot, it stays sizzling. Its rectangular shape allows the cooking of more hunks of prime rib or pieces of fish or whatever it is you would like blackened.
While the versatile Blackener can be used indoors like an ordinary griddle to cook anything from grilled cheese sandwiches and fajitas to pancakes and pizza, Mack Daddy’s Blackener shines atop the outdoor BBQ grill or even the campfire.
Because it is so thick, the Blackener holds heat much longer than conventional skillets or griddles, which begin to cool down immediately after a piece of cool meat is placed on them because the meat absorbs the heat.
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“This drop in temperature is not desirable when blackening,” said Gates.
“You want food to cook as fast as possible. It is important to get your skillet hot, but just as important to keep it hot while blackening.”
The skillet is manufactured in Tennessee by Lodge Manufacturing Company, which has made cast iron cookware for more than 100 years. The product arrives pre-seasoned and ready to go. An accompanying recipe cook provides blackening tips and recipes that include the deceptively simple yet amazingly tasty “World’s Best Baked Potato,” created by Gates himself.
Maintenance is pretty much non-needed.
“Use hot water and a plastic scouring pad,” said Gates, who then rubs the skillet with a light coat of vegetable oil after each use. That’s all, folks.
At $49.95, Mack Daddy’s Blackener is not cheap, but it is an investment in perfectly blackened meals for a lifetime. With Christmas just around the corner, Santa may have a heavier sled this year with these Mack Daddy’s Blackeners, created by the BBQ masters themselves.
Mack Daddy’s Blackener is only available online at mackdaddysinc.com. Need more information? Call 321-412-1790.