Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Cast Iron Cookware

Cast iron

I grew up using cast iron skillets, and didn't really think much about it (who does as a kid LOL). Since I was lucky enough to have an Uncle who scoured the flea markets in Kansas City the summer I was planning my wedding, looking for all the different sized cast iron skillets he could find for me, I've been lucky enough to be able to use them since I got married too. I have some stainless steel ones that I got with a set of pans I purchased, but they sit in the back of my cupboard unused for the most part these days. I've used them and others over the years, but have always came back to my cast iron.

The old cast iron is way better than the new...in my opinion. I'm not sure I'd waste my money on the new stuff, unless it's enamel coated, but then that's just my opinion.

The downfall of cast iron for those in a hurry is you can't wash them in the dishwasher. In fact as I'm sure many of you know, most people say you shouldn't wash them in soap at all, even my Mother-in-law told me that before she died, and since she had way more experience than I did, I tried it her way...but just couldn't take it. I grew up washing them (by hand) in soap and water, and that's what I do to this day.

When I tried just washing them like I've read (and my MIL said to) I had intestinal trouble after eating the meal I cooked in them. I think I'm just extra sensitive to that kind of thing, but after having it bother my tummy for a while I just gave up and went back to the way I was used to. It works for me, and the pans seem to be fine. Soap and water in the sink with a scrubber if needed gets them clean for me and doesn't make me sick. (Sorry if some of you who are into cast iron are cringing at how I treat mine! LOL)

If I heat the pan up before putting anything into it, to cook, and then add a little oil (or butter) once the pan is hot, things don't stick to my pans much, even though I wash them "wrong". The key is heating them up empty I think...otherwise I've had a little trouble with them sticking sometimes.

Cast iron holds the heat better, so things cook better (aluminum clad doesn't do to bad, but it's still not as good as cast iron...in my opinion) and I think things taste better in them too.

Another wonderful thing about cast iron is you can use it in the oven!! I am always browning some meat on top the stove, then adding whatever I want to the pan and putting my cast iron lid on top and sliding it in the oven. One dish to wash, and yummy food to eat!

A while back, I thought I'd try "pocket stew" in my cast iron skillets, instead of using foil. It actually didn't taste quite the same, but was better in a way, so now we've been having that every week or so. DH really loves it! :) Brown the hamburger in the skillet with a little butter (if needed), then add a little more butter, to make sure things don't burn in the oven, and add the vegi's you want (onions, potatoes, carrots or anything else you want) pop the lid on and into the oven it goes till it's done! Yummy, Easy, and less cleanup than if you did a skillet to brown the meat, and a casserole dish for the oven.

For those of you afraid of butter...I just read an article yesterday, on a blog, about butter which I totally agree with. It's not as bad as you have been led to believe, and is actually much better than that plastic, man made junk, most people seem to want to eat. If you are lucky enough to be able to get raw butter it's even better for you!! I'm even more in love with our cows, after reading this blog post! LOL Sure, I'm sure you can overdo, like most things, however it's not as bad as some people would like to make you think it is, so I don't worry to much about it anymore since we have our own fresh source of it.

My Cast iron has really been used since we butchered our cow this last year. Using it to slow cook grass fed beef has made the beef get really tender and yummy. Slow cooking the steaks or roasts is a must with grass fed, least in my experience with our own beef, and doing that in cast iron makes it better because it conducts the heat better, and stays at a more even temperature. So next time you have a tougher cut of meat you want to cook, try doing it in cast iron, on a slow oven, and see if it turns out better for you! It needs some moisture too, (the hamburger doesn't have to have it, just the other cuts of meat) so make sure you put broth, water or a gravy over it when it's cooking.

Besides baking chicken, steaks, roasts, stew & pocket stew in my skillets, frying eggs, potatoes and whatever else we love, I've also made corn bread & pineapple upside down cake in them. What do you like to make in your cast iron? I'd love more ideas!! :-))

2 comments:

  1. I remember trying to use a cast iron skillet when I was in my late teens, with dismal results. EVERYTHING stuck to it. But then, I doubt I heated it up first. I didn't grow up with them, so had no idea how to use them... All my pots, pans, and skillets are the non-stick kind...

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  2. It can stick, if you don't work with it right...using enough oil (or butter) and heating it up first helps. I tried the nonstick skillets before, but didn't like them cause the coating came off to much. Besides from what I've read the coating is really kinda bad for you, so I decided I didn't need to use them anyway. LOL Guess it's all in what you get used to! :)

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