April 28, 2010


Iron clad: What's best pan for browning? It's made of cast iron (JeanMarie Brownson, April 28, 2010, Chicago Tribune)

Some children express their desire to inherit family heirlooms such as fine antiques and special jewelry. Not so much with our offspring. They've put "dibs" on the collection of battered, but beloved, cast-iron pans.

In an era of fast meals whipped up in nonstick skillets, the cast-iron pan is our go-to choice for old-fashioned browning. That means foods packed with flavor — often achieved in less time than cooking on the grill or in the nonstick skillet. With cast iron, the heat can be set higher and the food comes in direct contact with an evenly heated surface.

Many chefs will tell you that the only pan they need is a large cast-iron skillet — we agree. When we read chef Francis Mallman's cookbook, "Seven Fires: Grilling the Argentine Way" (Artisan, $35), we got excited. He spoke to our kitchen souls when describing cooking on his chapa in Patagonia — a flat piece of cast iron typically set over glowing embers. Mallman wrote that he loves the cast iron for producing "a crust without drying out the ingredients, so that they stay moist and flavorful."

One of the best buys at K-Mart is their cast iron skillets, which are much cheaper than you'll find somewhere like Amazon. But if you can find an old one at the thrift store, even better.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 28, 2010 5:52 AM
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