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What’s all the fuss about cast iron? Are they really that useful? Are they high maintenance? What exactly do you *do* with cast iron?
I’ll answer all these questions with tips on how to make it last 100 years.
First off, cast iron is not a new thing. Grandmas in the South will tell you all about their cast iron that they received as wedding gifts 50 (or more) years ago. That’s the beauty of cast iron – when you take care of it (which is not hard, AT ALL) it will last forever.
These are my 10 Reasons Why You Need Cast Iron in Your Life:
- Cast Iron is non-stick. Season your cast iron with coconut oil, bacon fat, or store-bought lard and nothing will stick to those babies. Which also means you can use less oil when cooking.
- It’s easy to maintain. Most of the time, I can clean my cast iron by simply wiping it with a damp paper towel. Really, it’s that easy. However, for the occasions when there are some stuck-on bits from cooking, place some warm water over the affected area and wait a few minutes. Most of the time, water is enough to lift the tough bits, but if it isn’t just use a gentle plastic scrubber. Do not use soap with cast iron. I’ll say it again – DO NOT CLEAN CAST IRON WITH SOAP. Soap removes the seasoning, which removes the non-stick property. And, for the love, never EVER put it in the dishwasher. Just don’t.
- It holds temperature. Cast iron retains and distributes heat very evenly. That’s why it’s great for baking, frying, and searing.
- Iron is good for you. While cast iron doesn’t leach chemicals, like some other coated nonstick cookware, it does fortify your food with iron. Iron deficiency is fairly common worldwide, especially among women. Cooking food in cast iron will fortify your food with a small percentage of iron. Cooking something acidic, like tomato sauce, in cast iron will raise iron levels by nearly 20 times.
- You can grill year-round. I adore my combo cast iron grill/griddle. You can have the smoky, char-grilled flavors of summer all year without having to step foot outside. Just like the skillets, the grill retains heat and you get the beautiful grill marks and flavor with less of the hassle.
- No more pancake accidents. I had non-stick electric griddles for YEARS. Then, one day I couldn’t get through a batch of pancakes because every. single. one. would stick to my griddle. I used oil, I tried different temperatures, and still would have at least half my batter in crumbles and pancake remnants. Then, I got my cast iron grill/griddle, and everything changed. No more burnt or sticking pancakes! I wish I had saved myself the headache years ago.
- Pass it on to your kids and grandkids. No joke, my cast iron pans will probably outlive me. Those suckers can take a beating! You can drop, bang, and even scorch them all you want and they’ll still come out looking perfect. It’s really hard to actually hurt or mess these things up.
- Cheap in price, but not in practice. You know those kitchen gizmos you get for cheap (as in very little money) knowing they won’t last? This isn’t one of those. Cast iron cookware is very affordable, and it will last forever (See also #7). If you’re the garage-saling type (which I am ^_~), I’m willing to bet you could find some cast iron pans for a couple bucks. People will toss perfectly good pans simply because they don’t know how to properly season them. Madness! (If you’re ever in need of re-seasoning your pans, check out this guide on how to do it.)
- It’s versatile. You can cook anything from bacon and eggs, to cornbread, steak, chili, stews, and skillet desserts. You can also use cast iron on any cooktop: ceramic, gas, electric, you name it. Also, how many pans do you know of that can go from the stovetop, to the oven, straight to the table? I mean, really I’m saving you from doing too many dishes, if nothing else.
- Iron builds muscle. OK, these cast iron tools are HEAVY. At the very least, you’ll build your biceps working with cast iron.
Now that we’ve established why you should have cast iron, you may be wondering, “What can I make with it?” I’m glad you asked. ^_^
Here are a few of my favorite cast iron grill/griddle recipes:
- Grilled Chicken Tabbouleh Salads (THM E)
- Fresh Fish Tacos (THM E)
- Grilled Vegetable Panzanella (THM E)
- Kabobs & Cauli (THM S)
- Maple Pumpkin Protein Pancakes (THM E)
- Peanut Butter & Jelly Pancakes (THM S)
- Blueberry Lemon Crepes (THM S)
And here are some for cast iron skillets/Dutch ovens:
- Lamb Spanakopita Burgers (THM S)
- Smokehouse Cowboy Burgers with Bacon-Onion Jam (THM S)
- Breakfast Burgers (THM S)
- Teriyaki Turkey Burgers with Grilled Pineapple (THM E)
- Bacon Cheddar Skillet Cornbread (THM S)
- Gruyère Chive Biscuits (THM S)
- Parmesan Garlic Biscuits (THM S)
- Southern-Style Cornbread Dressing (THM S)
Meats and Sides:
- Roasted Pork Tenderloin and Baked Apples (THM E)
- Buttermilk Fried Chicken (THM S)
- Steakhouse Dinner at Home for 2 (THM S)
- Seared Tuna Salads with Wasabi-Orange Vinaigrette (THM Deep S)
- One-Pot Chicken Cacciatore (THM E)
- Low Carb Coq Au Vin (THM S)
- Verde Chicken Chili (THM E)
- Loaded No-Tato Soup (THM S)
Here are some bonus recipes from a few of my blogger friends:
Do you have cast iron in your kitchen? What are some of your favorite recipes using cast iron?