The time has come to talk about the joy of cooking with cast iron!
Over the years I have collected large and small cast iron pans and grills of various shapes. I scour the garage sales for the old dark black cast iron, with a smooth cooking surface. The new ones just don’t seem to work so well.
My cast iron are my favorite cooking utensils, and are extremely versatile. They can be used on the stovetop, in the oven or on the grill, and allow the cook to make everything imaginable, even pies and pizzas. Cast iron heats evenly and cooks evenly. Handles are hot, so I keep those little bitty mitty things near the stove to place over the handles. The importance of reducing toxic chemicals in our diet is aided with cast iron by eliminating all of those nonstick versions of cookware available. Cast iron can be placed on very hot surfaces, and it holds the heat for a very long time, compared with other materials. Recently I made a 7 pound roast chicken in one of the newer red porcelain coated cast iron roasters. I was amazed at the wonderful moist texture of the chicken, and the reduced time it took to cook.
Another benefit of cast iron is the possibility of some of the iron being transferred into the food during cooking. Many people suffer from iron deficiency, causing fatigue and lack of energy, so every little bit helps.
Wash your cast iron well when you receive it and then season it. Seasoning helps to bake the tiny oil particles into the porous surface, creating a smooth nonstick surface. This also reduces rusting, and prevents food from taking on any undesirable flavour.
Seasoning: wipe your pan down with a thin layer of olive oil, inside and out, including the handle. I like to use my Lecithin Pan Coating, which is 1 cup of olive oil mixed with 1 tsp. of liquid lecithin. (from Cook Your Way to Health). Liquid Lecithin is available at health food stores and keeps in the cupboard with no expiry date. There are various suggestions for baking this finish on. I suggest to place your pan in a 300 F. oven for 1 hour. One source suggests you place it upside down on a cookie sheet. Turn the heat off and leave it sit in the oven until cool, then wipe it with a paper towel. Highly acidic foods such as tomatoes and vinegar may remove some of this seasoning; my solution is to gently clean the pan after I have removed whatever casserole I am cooking, dry it well with a soft cloth, place it over a warm burner on the stove, and brush a thin layer of the Lecithin Pan Coating over the cooking surface. I allow it to heat gently and then turn off the burner. I find this preserves the coating and maintains a better nonstick surface. Should you have egg or other foods stuck to the pan, soak it in hot water for a few minutes, or place on a burner with the water and simmer gently. Use a brush or nonabrasive scrubber to remove food particles and then follow the drying and oiling procedure. Takes very little time and is well worth the effort. Never wash it with soap after it has been seasoned, or put it in the dishwasher, as this may cause rusting. Place a paper towel over the surface after it has cooled, and store in the oven or other warm dry place, allowing air to circulate and prevent condensation.
Cast iron gets better with age! In fact, it will live longer than you…..
Why not try a casserole in a cast iron pan today? Below is a version of an easy hamburger casserole given to me by my friend Joy.
3 tbsp. butter
1 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 lb. ground beef
1 tbsp. curry powder
1 ½ tbsp. unrefined sea salt
2 cups canned diced tomatoes
2 cups green beans
1. Place butter, onion and garlic in a large cast iron pan and saute briefly.
2. Add ground beef or bison and brown well.
3. Stir in the curry powder, salt, pepper, cinnamon, ginger and turmeric.
4. Add the tomatoes and beans and simmer, covered for 25 minutes.
Why not heat this in the morning and pack in a thermos to send off to school or work for lunch?
Author, Speaker & Registered Nutritional Consultant