When the best cooks you know love the same product, pay attention.
I used to be a cast-iron hold-out. All the best cooks I knew used it. But I thought it was too heavy. I didn’t think I’d like cleaning it. Then, I used it, and my world changed.
Any pan that is used by both fisherman cooking shore lunches and gourmet cooks preparing five course meals meets the definition of versatile, and proves its quality. But it’s the taste of the food cooked in cast iron that makes it so popular.
Cast iron makes delicious food. Meats are so tender you can cut them with your fork. Breads with a flaky crust, melt in your mouth. Vegetables tender and rich with flavor, make me consider being a vegetarian—until I remember I’d have to give up meat! Maybe it’s the lack of evaporation, or the searing that’s enabled, or maybe it’s the carmelization. Whatever the reason, food cooked in cast iron really does taste better.
I can make a pot roast in a cast iron Dutch oven that is fork tender. And I’ve watched my son and future daughter-in-law bake cinnamon rolls over a campfire high in the Rocky Mountains in the same size Dutch oven. For their rugged outdoor camping, they prefer Lodge cast iron. We both love the ease and beauty of LeCreuset cast iron for indoor cooking or grilling.
My favorite pan is my LeCreuset cast iron buffet casserole. This shallow casserole is basically a braiser that’s perfect for searing, braising and slow cooking. Its tempered glass lid allows me to keep an eye on my cooking, and is oven safe as well. The smooth interior promotes carmelization, precise cooking and is simple to clean. My mother would laugh, but I crave the onions I can carmelize in this dish; they add so much flavor to my vegetables and roasts.
The classic pot roast is my favorite go-to roast recipe, and the Dutch oven bread recipe is a favorite from a friend. But Britta and her cinnamon rolls baked with nineteen pieces of well-placed charcoal is the amazing accomplishment. She and Mark have mastered ‘glamping’ – translated as glamorous camping, and their mastery of cast iron at their campsite is fascinating.
Fisherman joke about who will inherit their favorite cast iron pan, but they’re not exaggerating. A perfectly seasoned cast iron skillet might be the most revered and protected item at fish camp. Enameled cast iron is made for generations of use, and I’ve witnessed decades old Dutch ovens in action. Great cooks know what works. I was late to the table, but I’m so very glad to test new recipes, and new uses for cast iron now. To my inspiration chef Dave, and my sales rep Deb, I say a very sincere, ‘Thank you!’
As a self proclaimed “retail nerd”, Sue has been in the retail business for over 20 years owning and managing specialty gift stores in west central Minnesota. She and her husband love to travel and explore unique destinations. While doing so, they also gather ideas to bring home. Sue and Doug have three grown children and live in Perham, Minnesota.