What is Cast Iron Good For?


(Kathy S. ) #41

For me, it’s was all about the price. I got my cast iron 10", griddle and Dutch Oven for around $100 at Wally world. There was a bit of a learning curve, but I learned to use it and it’s second nature to me. I won’t get rid of it because I’m thrifty at heart and there’s a few things it does better, like @bmorecupcakes I love making grilled cheese on my griddle, it leaves fabulous grill marks.

I got a tri-ply stainless steel rondeau last year (Silga, Teknika line) and I admit I use it more often than my long-trustworthy CI Dutch Oven. It’s just easier. If there’s differences in cooking, it’s minimal, at least what I use it for.

If someone is my youth had given me an entire set of high-end tri-ply stainless steel cookware, I’d probably have stuck with that all my life.

Having wrote all that, All-Clad gets a bad rap for design issues, if I had to buy tri-ply SS, I’d probably go with Demeyere.


#42

Thanks for your personal inputs. Fortunately I’m versed in using both types. I’ll continue to use them as appropriate. YMMV


#43

Is Le Creuset enameled cast iron? Because that is the best cookware I have ever used. I inherited a pot and treated it horribly so it’s ugly but still better than anything else I have.

I have dreams of getting rich & the first thing I buy is Le Creuset.


(Charles Stanford) #44

Yes, Le Creuset is enameled cast iron.


(For the Horde!) #45

If you poll a vote on the old CHOWHOUND crowd, you will find more people prefer the bare cast iron cookware over the enameled cast iron cookware.

I had some bare cast iron and some enameled cast iron cookware. Now, I only have the bare cast iron cookware. For what it worth, I just made my gumbo in my bare cast iron Dutch Oven. Bare cast iron cookware have several advantages over enameled cast iron cookware.

  1. Bare cast iron cookware are cheaper
  2. Bare cast iron cookware can easily regenerate its seasoning surface. I can do it again and again. This makes it very durable. I can bake a corn bread on my bare cast iron skillet and then cut it out using a knife. I can scrap bare my cast iron skillet using a metal turner. There are not many ways to actually destroy a bare cast iron cookware. If you accidentally drop your bare cast iron cookware in your sink, you worry more for the sink than the cookware. Whereas a crack on an enameled cast iron surface is a goner. There is pretty much no way to fix a cracked enameled cast iron cookware.
  3. Bare cast iron (like bare carbon steel) cookware are the only two type of cookware that can handle very high heat and still being nonstick. I can heat my cast iron skillet to high heat to make blackened tuna. Enameled cast iron cookware cannot be used for high heat or the enameled surface will crack.

#46

Le Creuset can be used at high heat for breadmaking. But probably not over direct high heat on the stove.


(For the Horde!) #47

You are right. It is more about sudden temperature change, not actual high temperature itself. Enameled cast iron cookware are often used for no knead bread (my own photo :yum:) (which is fairly high in temperature)

image

Enameled cast iron cookware often can crack its enamel when temperature change is fast. There are many advises/directions to slowly heat up the enameled cast iron cookware as well as avoiding add cold food to hot enameled cookware.

Where possible, always add hot liquid to a hot pot. If adding cold liquid is unavoidable, for example if cooking with wine, move the piece away from the heat source for a few moments and then pour the liquid in slowly. This will help to prevent thermal shock damage to the enamel.


(Robert Sacilotto) #48

I agree regarding the durability and nonstick abilities of cast iron. It’s easy to strip and re-season with flax seed oil. No worries getting a large skillet very hot and throwing in a pile of cold vegetables to sear for a stir fry, or deglazing with cold wine. Homemade masa tortillas come out great on the cast iron flat griddle, where a disk of cold dough is laid onto a hot, seasoned surface. No limits on utensils either. Our collection of cast iron skillets and griddles get as much use as the stainless/copper Revere ware.

I looked at enamel ware and decided to pass; I didn’t see a niche. Our hanging skillets are close to the stove, overlapped for efficient grabbing and hanging back up. Enamel would surely chip or crack in my hands. I’ll use the stainless for cooking which doesn’t require a non-stick surface. I can stack those deep stock pots without worry. And, there’s no need to reinforce the ceiling, since a large number of pots are hanging overhead, from a 6 foot long steel hook-rack, and the weight of stainless is a fraction of bare or enameled iron.


(Charles Stanford) #49

As I mentioned in my post, enameled cast iron has a replacement cycle in a busy kitchen. And, I’ve never seen bare cast iron used in the kitchens in which I’ve worked.

High heat cooking , when a pan reduction isn’t contemplated, is done in either carbon steel or stainless steel, the latter of course when fond will be harvested. Harvesting fond in a dark bottomed pan is bad technique, regardless of how many times one may have done it successfully.


#50

Could you explain a bit more why that is?


(Charles Stanford) #51

Can’t tell if it’s burned.

My experience is in restaurant kitchens. If a dish is to be accompanied by a pan sauce, it can’t just be so-so. It has to be spot on. You have to monitor the color of the fond, the color and consistency of the deglazing liquids, aromatics, etc. It takes undue strain to do this against a black background, especially if you have more than one pan in play. And besides that, bare cast iron ghosts flavors. It just does. Good restaurants are cooking for the 1% that can taste the difference, not Joe Truck Driver who is just hungry and needs to get back on the road. Nothing wrong with Joe, mind you, it just is what it is.


(Denise) #52

Residual flavors are exactly why our large cast iron skillet has been gathering dust in our home kitchen. :worried:

On the other hand I have a 10-inch enameled cast iron Le Crueset skillet (dark interior) that I favor for omelettes and over easy eggs among other uses, for which I want the pan to retain heat.


(ChristinaM) #53

In the enameled v. bare cast iron debate, I’m surprised no one has mentioned the issues cast iron can create with acidic foods like tomatoes or wine?


(Kathy S. ) #54

One of the main reason I use my SS, I make my tomato sauce, then I store it in the rondeau and put it in the fridge. No worries.


#55

I have a small de Buyer carbon steel skillet, which is very useful for small quantities. I always think that it is really well seasoned, but whenever I forget, and use it for something with wine or tomato sauce, the seasoning goes.


(erica) #56

Residual flavors>
Try heating the empty skillet in a 450F oven for 20-30 minutes. Supposedly that gets rid of them. Worth a try!


(Ray Briggs) #57

I won’t deny the value of traditional cast iron, but I’ve opted for various versions of enameled cast iron that sometimes seem interchangeable. My Staub crepe pan has a black enamel surface almost indistinguishable from cast iron, and has taken some good seasoning over the years.

Other ECI pieces of mine have a very hygienic glossy finish–like my Le Creuset cocottes. Overall, I’m an ECI fan.


#58

Belief, of course is non-negotiable. And also bereft of logic. That said, I believe that cast iron is the best range-top choice for steaks or hamburgers.


#59

Hygienic glossy finish.
Really…?


(For the Horde!) #60

Correct. Both bare cast iron and bare carbon steel will react with food. I guess it is such a given characteristic that people won’t talk about it much. However, it really isn’t as bad as it is. Once a person get a handle on it, you can work on it. For example, I made a gumbo fill with tomato in the bare cast iron cookware. I have made many stir fried tomato in my carbon steel wok.

I think it only comes a big problem when one uses very acidic sauce. One time I did acid-strip my carbon steel wok by making a very condense sweet and sour sauce.