When the best cooks you know love the same product, pay attention.
I used to be a cast-iron hold-out. All the best cooks I knew used it. But I thought it was too heavy. I didn’t think I’d like cleaning it. Then, I used it, and my world changed.
Any pan that is used by both fisherman cooking shore lunches and gourmet cooks preparing five course meals meets the definition of versatile, and proves its quality. But it’s the taste of the food cooked in cast iron that makes it so popular.
Cast iron makes delicious food. Meats are so tender you can cut them with your fork. Breads with a flaky crust, melt in your mouth. Vegetables tender and rich with flavor, make me consider being a vegetarian—until I remember I’d have to give up meat! Maybe it’s the lack of evaporation, or the searing that’s enabled, or maybe it’s the carmelization. Whatever the reason, food cooked in cast iron really does taste better.
I can make a pot roast in a cast iron Dutch oven that is fork tender. And I’ve watched my son and future daughter-in-law bake cinnamon rolls over a campfire high in the Rocky Mountains in the same size Dutch oven. For their rugged outdoor camping, they prefer Lodge cast iron. We both love the ease and beauty of LeCreuset cast iron for indoor cooking or grilling.
My favorite pan is my LeCreuset cast iron buffet casserole. This shallow casserole is basically a braiser that’s perfect for searing, braising and slow cooking. Its tempered glass lid allows me to keep an eye on my cooking, and is oven safe as well. The smooth interior promotes carmelization, precise cooking and is simple to clean. My mother would laugh, but I crave the onions I can carmelize in this dish; they add so much flavor to my vegetables and roasts.
Cast iron evenly distributes heat over the entire base, making it ideal for all forms of cooking, whether slow-cooking, roasting, searing, stir-frying or baking.
Preheating cast iron is always wise before you add your ingredients. When using a pan with a black interior, test if the pan is sufficiently hot. Simply sprinkle a few drops of water; if they sizzle and pop, the pan is ready for use. If you are using an enamel coated cast iron (like LeCreuset sand-colored interiors), the entire cooking surface should be thinly coated with oil, fat, or liquid if your recipe requires moisture. LeCreuset enameled cast iron works perfectly on all stove tops, including glass induction. Cast iron’s fantastic heat conduction means high heat settings are unnecessary; low to medium heat settings are ideal for thoroughly cooking food, and provide the best, most flavorful results even when frying or searing. Cooking with too much heat can cause foods to stick or brown too quickly, leaving interiors undercooked.
The classic pot roast is my favorite go-to roast recipe, and the Dutch oven bread recipe is a favorite from a friend. But Britta and her cinnamon rolls baked with nineteen pieces of well-placed charcoal is the amazing accomplishment. She and Mark have mastered ‘glamping’ – translated as glamorous camping, and their mastery of cast iron at their campsite is fascinating.
Fisherman joke about who will inherit their favorite cast iron pan, but they’re not exaggerating. A perfectly seasoned cast iron skillet might be the most revered and protected item at fish camp. Enameled cast iron is made for generations of use, and I’ve witnessed decades old Dutch ovens in action. Great cooks know what works. I was late to the table, but I’m so very glad to test new recipes, and new uses for cast iron now. To my inspiration chef Dave, and my sales rep Deb, I say a very sincere, ‘Thank you!’ - Sue
Nest is everything kitchen and coffee, We love what we do and want to share our passion. Nest is the place you call home.