Cooking With Cast Iron
Making food in cast iron cookware is healthy and satisfying, and you'll even get an extra boost of iron in your food! Another plus of cast iron cooking is that the heavy metal vessel will absorb and hold heat much better than most other cookware. The evenly heated cooking surface won't leave your dish under-cooked in some places and overcooked in others.
The Standard Skillet
If you have any cast iron cookware in your kitchen, this is probably what you've got. The versatile skillet can be used for making almost anything, whether your cooking up some eggs, bacon and pancakes for breakfast or preparing a hearty meal with chicken, steaks, beans and even bread! Lodge makes a fantastic skillet for under $30.
The Griddle Pan
A cast iron griddle is great for making anything that needs to spread out a little. Think pancakes, bacon, or burgers. Beef cooks particularly well in a cast iron vessel because the fat from the meat helps to season the pan and will readily absorb the hearty taste of the coating. Griddles start around $15 and can range up to $100.
The Fajita Pan
This fajita pan can be used for all sorts of things, but you've probably seen sizzling hot dishes served on it in Mexican restaurants. Fajitas are cooked in these pans and the entire pan is usually brought to the table so that the diner gets to experience the "sizzle" of meat as it still cooks right in front of them. Bed, Bath, and Beyond sells these handy pans for just under $20.
The Tea Pot
In Asia, traditional cast iron tea pots are used to steep tea for drinking. The iron pot keeps the water hot, and they make a great addition to your table setting. Brewing tea in a cast iron tea pot is similar to normal tea pots with an added step of first warming the kettle with warm water. These beautiful tea pots are sold at Home Depot for a little over $15.
The Dutch Oven
Cast iron Dutch ovens make great camping dishes. Just about anything can be cooked or reheated in them and they take the heat of direct coals without any complaint. These ovens are usually either set directly in the fire or hung over the flame from a tripod. Another way to cook in a Dutch oven is to invert the lid and place hot coals in the indentation, which will cook your food from the top down. Cast iron Dutch ovens can be purchased for around $55.
The Cast Iron Wok
Nothing says gourmet Asian food like cooking it in a cast iron wok. A cast iron wok will retain heat, which makes it perfect for stir-frys. These woks come in all sizes to fit any kitchen. Lodge's cast iron wok sells for around $90 and can serve as a lifelong investment.
The Grill Press
For bacon lovers, the cast iron grill press is a must. Not only for bacon, this press can be used on any meat to flatten and ensure all sides are cooked evenly. This press can also be used to make toasted sandwiches. Most presses are priced around $20.
If you are lucky enough to have an old cast iron pan in your family, rejoice! These old workhorses never die, and even old rusty pans can be salvaged with a little steel wool, vegetable oil, and elbow grease. One of the neatest things about an old cast iron pan is that someone else might have been using the very same pan a hundred years ago - maybe your grandparents!