Cooking With Cast Iron

I recently made the decision to start consulting with Pampered Chef. I choose to do this because it was a great way to earn a little extra income, which goes into our savings account for when we move back to Washington. Additionally I choose to start a Pampered Chef business because I love their products and they give out some amazing incentives.

I recently earned four cast iron skillets, two 5.5 inch, one 10 inch, and a twelve inch skillet. Crazy right? Free is good.

Prior to this I hadn’t cooked with cast iron. Well, technically I have a little bit because that is what my parent’s used but not really. Honestly it intemidated me too much and cast iron just seemed like way to much work. When given the oppertunites I love to cook but as a mom of two littles I don’t really have the time. Especially when my husband works nights and sleeps all morning. I am basically a one woman show. Which is not me complaining- because a lot of people have it way worse then me. It is more me explaining my kitchen lifestyle. I am all about easy and cast iron just seemed like too much work, if I am completely honest.

So, after I received my free cast irons in the mail I was like… Cool, now what?

I decided to dive into research to discover why I would want to cook with cast iron, the pros and cons of it all.

Pros

  • You can use less oil – which means less fats – which then means healthier eats. Your potatoes, meats, veggies will be crispy and delicious without having to use a crap-ton of oils. The sheen you see on a cast iron pan is a sign of a well-signed pan. This renders the pain virtually nonstick. Which is a win in book.
  • It is chemical free. The repellent coating that keep food from sticking to nonstick cookware often contains PFCs (perfluorocarbons), a chemical that’s linked to liver damage, cancer and developmental problems. PFCs get released-and inhaled-from nonstick pans in the form of fumes when pans are heated on high heat. Likewise, we can ingest them when the surface of the pan gets scratched. Both regular and ceramic-coated cast-iron pans are great alternatives to nonstick pans for this reason.
  • It reinforces your food with iron. Did you know that iron deficiency is fairly common worldwide? In fact, 10% of American women are iron-deficient. Cooking food, especially something acidic like tomato sauce, in cast iron can increase iron content by as much as 20 times!
  • Cast iron cookware has a long life span as well. Many people still use cast iron pans inherited from their parents or grandparents. Of course, this is when you take care of it properly.
  • You can use it in the stover AND the oven. Which if you have ever follow a recipe that started on the stovetop but ended in the oven this is extremely helpful – not to mention less messy.
  • Once cast iron it stays hot – which makes cast iron pan great for searing meat. (I put this to the test -photos below – and WOW! Delicious!)

Cons

  • Cast iron is heavy – especially with food in it. Most cast iron pans are quite heavy, which can make them slightly awkward to maneuver. When choosing a cast iron pan it can be tempting to get the biggest pan possible but I would suggest opting for a size that’s big enough for your everyday cooking – but also manageable enough that you’ll actually want to use it regularly. I have been using my mini’s so much. They are perfect for personal pizza’s and deserts. I have also used my 10inch a lot when I am doing family meals – the 12inch that was given to me hasn’t been used to much – yet. Remember, that’s the pan’s minimum weight: it’ll be heavier once you load it up with food!
  • The handles get VERY hot – so you have to an oven mitt at all times when cooking with them or find a silicone cover for the handle.
  • Cast iron pans require seasoning: In order for your pan to become nonstick, you need to help it build up a layer of seasoning. Thankfully, if you know what to do, it’s not hard to build up enough seasoning to start cooking things like eggs on it. Take the time to help build up a good base of seasoning in your new pan. And, to help keep that seasoning in-tact, take care when cleaning your pan so that you don’t strip away the seasoning you’re working to build. For all the details on cast iron seasoning, read this article: “How to Season A Cast Iron Pan”.

As far as cleaning it goes, I have found that it is a lot easier the originally thought. It is surprisingly easy actually – takes a little more time because it is best to do it right away but over all pretty straightforward. You use a scrapper to buff off all the food, boil water in it for the extra tough food items, and then you season it. Bam! Done.

Ok, so now for the fun part! Here are some photo’s of what I have been cooking in my cast iron. If you want me to post the recipe or a how-to video please let me know in the comments below.

Shopping link: Cast Iron

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