Today we’re welcoming a special guest, Doug, to the blog! We both have our own cast iron pieces in our kitchens (Bre loves her Dutch oven, and Ree can’t get enough of her skillet), but had no idea the versatility they offer. So Doug, who’s a bit of an expert on the subject, has kindly put together this post full of tips and info all on cast iron. Thanks so much Doug!!!
Doug blogs at The Kitchen Professor, and while his degree is honorary (bestowed upon him by his wife), he has enjoyed cooking his whole life, and especially likes the science of cooking. He is partial to cast iron, barbecuing (especially with a smoker), and loves eating at as many restaurants as he can to try new things.
If you spend a lot of time in the kitchen, you should definitely have at least one piece of cast iron. It is versatile, has health benefits, and, in my house, is an essential piece of cookware.
Let’s talk about…why you should be using cast iron cookware
durable enough to last a lifetime
I am a big fan of quality…everything! Sometimes you have to pay a little more, but you are usually rewarded for the extra expense. If you buy and properly take care of a quality cast iron skillet, it will last a lifetime.
Even if you don’t take good care of your cast iron for a year or two, if you put a little effort into restoring it you can bring it back to almost new condition. I have cast iron that belonged to my grandmother, and I like to think about her while cooking on it!
super economic compared to comparable cookware
How great is it when you can get a high quality product without paying an arm and a leg? Cast iron is just that type of product.
If you want to buy new cast iron, you can get a starter set with a classic skillet, a griddle, and a dutch oven for well under $100.
~ Dutch oven chicken ~
If you don’t want to buy new, you can check out thrift stores, garage sales, or even sites like ebay to find bargains for well used cast iron that just needs a little TLC to be restored to “like-new” condition. One of my favorite pans was bought used and had a thick layer of black crust around it. After I restored it, we discovered it had a beautiful hammered edge finish on the outside!
You can use cast iron in almost any cooking situation!
Seriously! The only place that I can think of that you can’t put it is in the microwave, but if you are invested in cast iron you wouldn’t want to be microwaving your food anyways, right? You can use cast iron indoors on a gas stove, a glass stove, or in the oven. Outdoors you can use it over a campfire or on the grill. It is safe to very high temperatures as well.
~ dinner in a cast iron skillet ~
Because you can use cast iron to cook with almost any type of heat, you can also make almost any type of food, which makes it very versatile. If you have a dutch oven, you can of course make any variety of soups or stews. A high walled skillet will let you make cornbread, or even desserts like a skillet cookie or cobbler. One of my favorite new additions to my cast iron collection is small single service pieces, and I’ve used them for mac & cheese or an individual sized serving of cheesy beans and rice. Let’s not forget frying, either – once you get your cast iron hot, you can fry just about anything. You can literally use your cast iron for every meal.
chemical free – contains no teflon
Cast iron is non-stick without the chemicals. How is it non-stick? Well, if you properly season your cast iron, you will have a thin layer of fat on the bottom that makes cooking a breeze. And a proper seasoning does not contain the chemicals that come in the commercial modern day non-stick pan. Now, there are conflicting reports on whether these chemicals are ultimately harmful or not when handled properly, but why would you want to take that risk? You need to watch how hot you get these types of pans, as well as make sure that you don’t chip any of the surface, which could cause you to inadvertently ingest these chemicals.
get more iron in your diet
One mineral that you will inadvertently ingest if you use cast iron is…iron! While you can have too much iron in your diet, most of us do not get enough, and iron is important for many reasons. I love it when I can get more of what my body needs without having to ingest any pills! You can read more about adding to you diet with cast iron here.
In summary, cast iron is the versatile, durable, iron boosting, virtually indestructible essential tool to any chef’s kitchen!
recipes that work well for cast iron
- Paleo Quiche
- Summer French Toast
- Cast Iron Skillet Pizza
- Seared Sea Scallops
- Pineapple Upside Down Cake
- Biscuits and Gravy
- List of my 20 Favorite Cast Iron Recipes
tips for cleaning, seasoning, and caring for your cast iron
Here are some links that I found useful along the way:
- How to Clean Cast Iron
- Using a Lodge Plastic Scraper
- Seasoning Cast Iron
- Advanced Cast Iron Seasoning with Flaxseed Oil
- Bon Appetit’s Guide for Using Cast Iron
cast iron products to consider
You can’t go wrong with most cast iron. I really like Lodge since it is made in the USA.
Have you cooked with cast iron?
What’s your favorite recipe for cooking with cast iron?