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Monday, July 20, 2009

Ode to My Cast Iron

While I am not quite as devoted to my cast iron as I used to be, I still believe there are many things that are best cooked in it. I used to own nothing but cast iron skillets, but, to be honest, my arms started getting tired. Actually, I think the real reason had to do with finally being able to afford good quality non-stick cookware. Either way, I still love my cast iron. Here's why:
  • Nothing manages heat better. If you want to pan fry something, nothing beats cast iron. Looking to roast something in the oven? Nothing keeps moisture in the meat better.
  • It's the original stove to oven cookware.
  • If your cast iron is well seasoned, it allows you to enjoy non-stick cooking at high temperatures without having to worry about toxic materials leaching into your food like is believed to be possible with Teflon pans. In fact, cast iron contributes iron to your food!
  • You don't have to break the bank to buy a good cast iron pan.
  • You don't have to worry about using special utensils when cooking.

As you can see, cast iron has a lot of benefits. Sure, there are a few draw backs, namely - it's HEAVY! But, heck, you can get a workout while you cook! The only other potential drawback I can think of is that it really requires you to clean the pan immediately. You shouldn't use soap on cast iron (it tends to remove the pan's seasoning); salt and hot water is all you need to keep your cast iron in tip-top shape.

To enjoy the full benefits of cast iron requires the pan to be well seasoned. This involves wiping down the inside surfaces with vegetable shortening. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees F for about an hour. While Lodge is the most common new cast iron available, if you can find a Wagner pan at an antique store that is in good condition, you should grab it. Wagner pans have a smoother interior surface that I find forms a better non-stick surface when seasoned properly.

4 comments:

  1. I LOVE my cast iron skillets. They all came from the flea market close to my parents cottage and they have been my constant companions for 25 years. My daughters are banned from using them since that "Oh my gosh you put my cast iron skillet in the dishwasher!" incident.

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  2. Oh NO! The dishwasher!!! Yikes! I remember a friend's sister came to visit him once and she horrified him by scrubbing the cure right off his cast iron. Poor gal thought she was being a good sister working so hard to help him out! Oops!

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  3. I'm wondering if you still have the cast iron dutch oven that you so wisely picked out of my yard sale pile years ago!? I have a Staub cast iron, flat bottom wok, it is wonderful to use.

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  4. As a matter of fact, I do! I love that thing and still use it all the time.

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