Have you ever cooked with or did you grow up with parents who cooked with cast iron pans? If so, you know how great they are right? If not, you should give them a try for sure! If you search Google about cast iron pans you come across info that makes it sound like they are such a chore to own. Some people mean well but don’t realize they are over complicating things! Once you get the hang of them it will be your favorite go to pan. Besides my stainless steel saute pans, it is the one set of pans that can go right from the stove top to the oven to finish cooking. Sounds great, right?
So don’t let them scare you online, they really are not as hard as people make it sound to take care of. As a matter of fact, they are not really hard at all. Quite often it is just one more step (oiling the pan) but we will get into that in a bit. Cool part too is that it is probably safer then pans you are using now (if using non stick.) One thing you will learn about me here is that I only have 2 “non stick” coated things – one is my Ninja Auto IQ multi-cooker and the other is a round flat pan that you can make pancakes on (and that will soon retire but my kids use it for stuff and I am working them into the cast iron.)
Being I don’t like the coating used in the non stick pans, I really mainly use just cast iron, glass and stainless steel. Both of which will last a very long time so they are worth their investment – my stainless steel pot set is about 18 years old and look like they are almost new. Yup, they are used all the time too.
Now you have a quick understanding about my cookware preference so let’s dig into the details of why you are here!
Why I love my cast iron pans:
Yes you read that right, it is really non stick if you treat them right. The first couple things you make in a brand new pan might stick a little bit, especially if you are new to cast iron (and you are looking at what everybody recommends.) But I assure you that once you use it and get the hang of it, it will be non stick. I cook eggs in mine all the time, one of our pans is dedicated to eggs and you can make omelets in it even.
If you treat it right, and even if you goof a few times, this pan will last you a lifetime. Seriously, it will probably out live you unless you leave it in a tub with water. If it ever gets rusty (because nobody is perfect and you might not treat it right occasionally), you sand it down with a brillo pad and start over. Be sure to season it with oil so it doesn’t rust again afterwards.
Certain things just taste better in a cast iron pan. I don’t cook everything in it tho. Bacon, eggs, beef and chicken all taste better in it tho! And then cooking beef in it after cooking bacon last…amazing flavor 🙂 One recipe I make with boneless skinless chicken thighs will never be able to produce the amazing crunchies that only a cast iron pan can create. I am hungry thinking about making them!
Remember when I said earlier that it is one of my pans that can go from stove top to oven? Yup, it is that easy too. I make leg quarters in my pan all the time. I start on the stove and saute each side for about 7 minutes and then put it right into the oven at 375 to bake them for about 45 minutes. If I didn’t cook with coconut oil with them I would probably turn the oven up a little, but coconut oil has a low smoke point.
The Kids Love Them Too
Besides the great taste, they love to see it come out for dinner. They know it is one less dish they have to wash! I am the one who washes them, they are heavy and I want to know they will dry them all they way.
Keeping it Simple
I would be careful with what you read about maintaining them and also about cooking with them. People often recommend you heat them up to temperature before adding any kind of fat or food. I do not do that, but take note I have had a gas stove for years so they produce heat quicker too. I made tacos tonight and put the raw meat in the pan and then turned the burner on. Supposedly it will stick if you don’t heat it up first but I haven’t had that problem.
I use fat of some sort with some things but if it is fatty (like bacon or ground beef), then I just add the food into the pan. If I am cooking with a fat, usually butter or coconut oil, I melt the butter in the pan and then add the food to it. So yes I am heating the pan a little then, but I don’t wait to add the fat.
Wait to stir or flip until it will move easily. This is only in the beginning. You will notice the more you use it, the more non stick it becomes.
Every time you cook with it, wash it with warm water and a paper towel or even a dish brush if you have to. Never, and I mean never use soap on it. You will take the seasoning off the pan. You should only need water, but sometimes you might need to use some kosher salt to help scrub some stuff off (in the beginning and while you are adjusting to your new pan.)
And last but very important, dry your pan completely (I use a flour towel so there is no extra lint) and rub oil inside the pan. This will build up your seasoning and will keep it from rusting. Once used a lot, your pan will look clean when wet and look dirty when dry (like it has stuff stuck to it.) This is ok, it is part of the seasoning you are building up. Seasoning is not flavor, it is to protect your pan and create a non stick. Also flavor, but not just for flavor. I have been cooking with one for a long time and my parents always used them while growing up and that built up looking stuff hasn’t gotten anybody sick so no worries there. Oh and never season the bottom or outside of the pan with oil. It comes preseasoned and you run a chance of a fire if you oil the bottom and then put it on your stove.
Enjoy, any questions just ask!