What is Cast Iron Good For?


#21

Cast iron is good for searing and roasting meat and vegetables, grilled cheese or toast, and for re-heating pizza. It gives a harder sear and a crisp crust when used for baked items.

All Clad for good for searing meat if one plans to make a sauce; the sauce comes out cleaner. It is also better when sautéing or braising vegetables, for the same reason.

Cast iron retains heat and is heavy, so it makes it more difficult to adjust heat level when cooking delicate items (scallops, for example).

All Clad is much thinner than cast iron, so if the pan becomes too hot, it’s much easier to lift and cool. All Clad also responds more quickly to adjustments in the heat of a burner.


(Sarah) #22

Hey if you had a ovenproof pot or glass bowl that would fit the 10" flat pan, maybe you could make your own bread cloche? Also, seasoned it is good for naan, tortillas, things like that.


(Doo B. Wah) #23

Use the AllClad for the bottom pan and the cast iron for the top and you have a panini maker!


(For the Horde!) #24

What if you reverse them?


(Doo B. Wah) #25

Cast iron’s heavier, you want it on top.


(Robert Sacilotto) #26

Cast Iron is useful in the oven, if the handle is all iron, as well. I’ll fill a huge skillet with stuffed peppers and don’t worry about broiling the tops at 400 degrees F, to crisp the cheese. I use it a lot and, if the seasoning gets thick or picks up odors, toss it in the low coals of a fire to burn off everything. A quick fine sanding, wash and it’s ready for re-seasoning. Here’s the real secret: season with flax seed oil. Flax seed is the food version of Linseed. The properly seasoned pan will withstand scrubbing with a bit of soap and the varnish-like coating is tough enough to remain.

You’ll either need to perform this outside, on a camp stove, or better in an oven that has an exhaust fan/vent to the outdoors. The bare iron is warmed and brushed, using a paper towel, with Flax seed oil, put in a hot oven, 450+ degrees F until it smokes off the volatiles. Make sure you’ve got the oven vent on; there will be a lot of smoke! When cool enough to handle, wipe any excess and repeat about three times, until you have a durable varnish=seasoning layer. I like eggs over-easy and they slide around as if the pan were Teflon. I used Canola and other oils, in the past, but Flax seed oil is by far the best.

Sure, if I’m toasting spices for Indian recipes, I’ll switch to bare stainless for dry pan roasting; non-stick doesn’t matter and those spices can flavor the seasoning. That would require hot water and some detergent soap to resolve, maybe baking at 400 F. The seasoning will survive that, but there’s no point asking for work.

Unlike other non-stick pans, cast iron can be rejuvenated once the non-stick coating isn’t working. Show me a commercial non-stick surface which will last over eighty years, and has excellent heat dissipation.


(Ray Briggs) #27

Robert,

Great post.

I get similar benefits with my Staub ECI with much more limited seasoning. The black enamel on the inside seems to be preprimed for near nonstick performance. Both my brazier and cocottes have the additional advantage of a lid–which keeps the contents juicy and moist. On the stovetop, I use an ECI crepe pan, which has similar nonstick performance to your seasoned cast iron skillet.

I don’t get the same benefits with my Le Creuset and other light interior ECI pots and pans.

Ray


#28

Just received this today in my in-box:


#29

That was a great article. Thanks for the link.


(Robert Sacilotto) #30

Thank you, Diana! The article was an ideal meld of “why” and “how”.
It’ll give me some options for Idlis, too.


#31

Just reminds me of my CI pan. Using it on my stove, which is an older Wedgewood that doesn’t fire very hot, it never even needs seasoning and food almost never sticks unless I mess up. The oil I use during cooking seems to stay as seasoning. I am not sure whether using soap instead of detergent to wash the pan makes a difference.


#32

I use cast iron often to cook meats and seafood retains heat well.


#33

You’re welcome.

Now…guess what, I found a perfectly good cast iron pan on the street. This one:

https://shop.lodgemfg.com/griddles-and-grill-pans/10-5-inch-square-cast-iron-grill-pan.asp

What is the function of the ridges?


#34

Ridges are for grill marks. I never use my grill pan. I tend to want full contact. But maybe I have really learned to use it


(Charles Stanford) #35

Cast iron will develop a ‘house flavor’ based on the dishes you like to cook. It’s inevitable. Once a couple of pounds of bacon are cooked in it, especially cheap bacon, it’s a goner.

If you like the cooking performance of cast iron (I don’t, admittedly) then you should really use enameled stuff. Enameling was invented for a reason, and not just to empty your wallet.


#36

I have both types. I’ve just never experienced odor retention but I don’t cook bacon.


(erica) #37

The experts who cook fish in naked cast iron say that any residual odor vanishes if after rinsing and drying the pan, you heat it in the oven. IIRC, 450F but I am not sure how long. 20 minutes? The heat opens the pores of the metal and vaporizes the oils. You then wipe fresh, neutral oil into it to refresh the surface. I have a very old C I Dutch oven that is used for pot roast and little else. It is redolent of bay, cloves, and onion and is, in itself, part of the seasoning. The one time I used an enameled CI Dutchie to make it, the result was inferior.


(Charles Stanford) #38

If you have both then there’s little reason to use the bare stuff. Heat the enameled CI gently to bring it up to heat and the enamel will last longer. It doesn’t last all that long in a restaurant setting, but then restaurants count on replacing cookware and the ones that can’t afford to are gone soon enough.

I trained and then worked almost my entire professional career in French kitchens and I never once saw a dish of any kind being cooked in bare CI. Take it for what it’s worth. Some were Michelin starred outfits. Enameled stuff was to be found everywhere, bare CI, rarely to never. I saw some in a storage room once, covered in rust.


#39

I found it useful to fry eggplant.

Unfortunately, I don’t particularly care for fried eggplant.


#40

LOL. I’d prefer enameled, but these were cheap. One was free.