Cooking with a cast iron pan is something people have done for hundreds of years - bit its’s also one of the things we get asked about a lot at Sous Chef. Why is food sticking? How do you care for cast iron? What does seasoning cast iron mean?
In this guide, we will discuss how to use, maintain, and enjoy the unique qualities of cooking with your cast iron cookware. Whether you're a seasoned chef or a cooking enthusiast, maintaining your cast iron cookware will help you create delicious meals you can enjoy and share.
Or if you just want to know how to choose cast iron pans to cook with, below is a great video to watch about it!
What to cook with a cast iron pan
Cooking with a cast iron pan opens up a world of culinary possibilities. From sizzling steaks to golden cornbread, the options are vast. Here are some mouthwatering dishes to try:
- Steak: Achieve the perfect sear for a restaurant-quality steak.
- Cornbread: Enjoy a golden and crispy crust, a cast iron classic.
- Frittatas: Whip up a delicious and fluffy frittata with even cooking.
- Roast Chicken: Get a crispy skin and juicy interior when roasting a chicken.
- Pizza: Create a rustic and crispy crust by baking your pizza in a cast iron pan.
- Vegetable Stir-Fry: Achieve a quick and even stir-fry with high heat retention.
- Cobbler or Crisp: Bake a delightful fruit cobbler or crisp with a gooey center and crispy top.
- Baked Macaroni and Cheese: Get a golden and crunchy top layer for your mac 'n' cheese.
- Pan Pizza: Enjoy a deep-dish or pan-style pizza right from your cast iron pan.
- Grilled Cheese Sandwiches: Achieve a perfectly crispy exterior for your grilled cheese.
There are countless more options to explore, making a cast iron pan an essential tool for any home cook. There's a lot you can do, and these dishes are just the beginning of the delightful culinary journey with your cast iron pan. Gladly, we have an overall guide for you about cast iron pans!
What NOT to cook with a cast iron pan
While a cast iron pan is incredibly versatile, there are a few things you should avoid cooking in it to ensure its longevity and performance:
- Delicate Fish: Delicate fish varieties that may easily stick or fall apart are best cooked in a non-stick pan to prevent sticking or breaking.
- Tomato-Based Sauces: Prolonged exposure to acidic ingredients, like tomatoes, can compromise the seasoning of the cast iron, so it's advisable to use other cookware for these dishes.
- Eggs for Extended Periods: Cooking eggs for a prolonged period or using excessive heat might lead to sticking, making it challenging to clean.
- Citrusy Marinades for Too Long: Extended marinating in citrusy or acidic marinades can erode the pan's seasoning, affecting its non-stick properties.
- Dairy-Heavy Dishes: Cooking dishes with excessive dairy or cheese may result in a sticky residue that is harder to clean.
- Delicate Sauces Requiring Precise Temperature Control: Cast iron's excellent heat retention may not be suitable for delicate sauces that require precise temperature control.
While the list of what not to cook may seem specific, a cast iron pan remains a versatile and indispensable tool in the kitchen when used for suitable dishes.
What cast iron pan to buy?
Choosing the right cast iron pan can enhance your cooking versatility. Whether you are a starter in a kitchen or you’re an expert, here are some popular and versatile options for everyday usage:
Perfect for achieving grill marks indoors. This pan is excellent for cooking steaks, vegetables, or anything you want to give that distinct grilled flavor.
Versatile and convenient for making sauces, soups, or boiling small batches. The even heating ensures your sauces are well-cooked and full of flavour.
The all-purpose pan of the kitchen. Use it for frying, sautéing, baking, and more. Its versatility makes it a must-have for any home cook.
When selecting a cast iron pan, consider the type of cooking you most enjoy. Investing in a combination, such as a skillet and grill pan, can cover a wide range of culinary needs. Here at Sous Chef, we provide a collection of cast iron cookware.
Tips on cooking with a cast iron pan
Cooking with a cast iron pan opens up a world of possibilities. Here are some tips to make sure you cook well while taking care of your cast iron pan:
- Preheat Before Adding Ingredients: Ensure your pan is well-heated before adding food. This guarantees a perfect sear and prevents sticking.
- Explore Searing and Browning: Use the cast iron skillet for searing meats or browning vegetables. Its even heat distribution gives a delightful caramelization to your dishes.
- Utilise the Oven: Many cast iron pans are oven-safe. Transfer your pan from stovetop to oven for dishes that require both methods, like finishing a steak or baking a frittata.
- Experiment with One-Pan Meals: The skillet's size and versatility make it perfect for one-pan wonders. Try cooking entire meals in one go for easy cleanup.
- Harness the Retention of Heat: Cast iron retains heat exceptionally well. Let your pan heat up slowly for even cooking and keep your food warm for longer on the table.
- Maintain Your Seasoning: Regularly seasoning your cast iron pan builds a natural non-stick surface over time. This enhances its performance and durability.
- Avoid Drastic Temperature Changes: Cast iron doesn't respond well to sudden temperature changes. Gradually heat or cool your pan to prevent damage.
Tips on properly cleaning and storing cast iron pan
Ensuring the longevity of your cast iron pan involves simple yet crucial steps:
- Cleaning and Seasoning Your Cast Iron Pan:
Proper cleaning is key to maintaining the integrity of your cast iron pan. After use, gently clean it with warm water and a soft brush or sponge. Avoid harsh scouring, as it can compromise the seasoning.
Once clean, ensure the pan is completely dry to prevent rust. Towel-dry or air-dry it thoroughly. Regular seasoning with a thin layer of oil builds up a protective coating and enhances its non-stick properties.
- Storing Your Cast Iron Cookware Properly:
Proper storage is equally important. Avoid storing your cast iron pan in damp or humid areas to prevent moisture, which can lead to rust.
Ensure there's proper ventilation in the storage area to avoid any lingering odours. Consider using a paper towel or a cloth between pans when stacking to protect the seasoning.
By adopting these practices, you'll not only maintain the performance of your cast iron cookware but also ensure its longevity for generations to come.
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