I wish I had bought cast iron cookware long before now.
Laura went shopping this weekend and happened upon some very nice new cast iron cookware for fairly cheap. I’ve been on the lookout for used cast iron for some time, but it seems like used cast iron is getting pretty rare as people snatch them up to sell on the internet.
Either way, there’s something wonderful about cooking with cast iron. It’s not really one thing, more like a combination of things, and probably also an extremely favourable comparison to the free cookware we’ve been blessed (and cursed) with until now.
I’ve been frying with a non-stick (I think teflon) skillet for a while now, and if you know anything about teflon coated pans, you know they’re thin and light. After all, you’re not supposed to charge a teflon coated pan with heat, as teflon degrades at high temps. Because the pans are so thin, they warp easily, especially in challenging circumstances like deglazing (which is virtually impossible anyways, as there’s nothing to deglaze from teflon). To be fair, Laura got the pan for free from her old job. So it was free. But that’s about the only point in its favour.
My other set of pans are heavy-bottomed stainless steel. So not exactly non-stick in any real way. They charge with and hold heat fairly well, but even with all precautions taken, things like eggs just stick and don’t like to come off. Again, these pans were free. We inherited them from Laura’s still-living parents when they threw out their entire kitchen. They’re decent enough pans. They’re old-ish and quite nice for what they are. But they’re still just too light and too sticky to cook certain things.
So aast iron (pre-seasoned in this case) can be a little rough, but it’s wonderfully non-stick, and makes cooking steak and other meats an absolute revelation. (Even for eggs: my first over-easy was a bit tough to flip, but it was exactly the way I like my eggs.) For instance, I’d always had trouble controlling the temperature of our other pots when pan-frying a thick steak, so I’d end up with a steak seared to death on the outside and cool on the inside. Or tough all the way through. Either way, no fun to serve or eat. It sucks to have to ruin a perfectly good steak by cutting it in half lengthwise so it will cook all the way through.
I pan-fried my first steak on cast iron today, and it was perfect. Absolutely perfect. The outside had a perfect crust, and the inside was the medium-rare I love.
We also got a cast iron dutch oven, something I’ve wanted since the ceramic glazed cast iron piece of crap from Loblaws crapped out (the ceramic started chipping off the lid into the food… not fun).
Oh, and these things are heavy. Seriously. If we ever experience a home invasion (which we won’t, at least statistically; we live in Canada) it will be my weapon of choice. This is a problem if you’re used to tossing your stir-fries, but frankly I’m not that fancy yet. I like the heft of it. The pan just stays where you put it. No fuss with the thing moving about the kitchen as if it had a mind of its own like our other pots and pans.