Cast Iron Cookware For Performance Cooking
Cast iron cookware is the first choice of many cooks. With proper seasoning cast iron cookware has a long-lasting nonstick surface. Learn about enamel and lodge cast iron cookware sets.
Cast iron cookware is unquestionably the best value in the kitchen. Properly seasoned and given good care cast iron cookware is great for most kinds of stovetop and outdoor cooking as well as baking. As inexpensive as it is, it outperforms many modern materials found in expensive new cookware. Lodge cast iron cookware distributes and retains heat beautifully; and you can get it hot without damaging it.
Cast iron cookware is heavy, of course. That was the initial impetus for the development of aluminum cookware and then stainless steel cookware: making life easier for the homemaker. But the best modern cookware, fully clad stainless steel cookware with a thick base, is not light; and today's home cooks, men and women, are not weaklings. So cast iron cookware remains a viable - and economical - choice.
Once you know what you are looking at, you can buy used Wagner cast iron cookware or Griswold cast iron cookware (neither is made anymore); but at first you should buy it new. Lodge cast iron cookware is the major American-made brand of bare-metal cast iron cookware today.
Enamel Cast Iron Cookware
Several companies, notably Le Creuset cookware, sell enamel cast iron cookware - cast iron cookware that is covered with porcelain enamel, either on the outside or both inside and outside. This makes for an attractive pan to bring to the table, and if the pan has porcelain inside, seasoning it is not an issue. Much enamel cast iron cookware is French cookware, as France is where the technique was developed and popularized.
Seasoning Cast Iron Cookware
Cast iron cookware must be seasoned before use unless you buy it pre-seasoned. Seasoning cast iron cookware means covering the bare metal with a nonstick plastic coating made of polymerized fat. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for the initial washing and seasoning of the pan, or use this method, which is more traditional:
Use soap and water to thoroughly wash the new pan to remove the factory coating. Dry completely.
Brush a heavy coating of melted fat on the inside and outside. The harder the fat the better. If you can get palm fat (try a German import store), great. Rendered leaf lard is the second choice (not packaged lard, which contains chemical preservatives). Solid vegetable shortening (such as Crisco) is the last choice. Do not use oil, although some authorities say olive oil is permissible.
Place the pan or pot in a cold oven, upside down, above a drip tray, such as a disposable aluminum foil roasting pan. You can also use a gas grill, outdoors, which keeps the smoke and smell out of the house.
Light the oven or grill and bring the temperature up until you smell the fat smoking (at least 400 degrees Fahrenheit), then shut off the burner and allow the pan to cool.
This is a start. You should use the new cast iron cookware pan for frying and sautéing for the first several uses to build up the finish before using it for water-based sauces. Once the pan is well seasoned, though, you can cook tomato sauce in it without doing any damage. Cast iron bakeware can be used immediately after the initial seasoning, as you're going to grease the pan in any case.