There are some things no amount of technology can improve upon. We’ve been thinking about that a lot lately as we’ve finished shooting video of grandmothers cooking with their families for Apron Strings. We’re editing those videos now and we’ll share them with you this Mother’s Day. Until then, what are some kitchen classics for you? You know, the kind of thing that falls into the “they just don’t make ’em like they used to” category. Here we’ll present a few of our favourites, what are some of yours?
In the small town of South Pittsburg Tennessee you can find he oldest family owned cookware foundry in the U.S. Founded by Joseph Lodge in 1896, this venerable company still produces the most sought after cast iron pans in the business. And it is possible that if you have one that was made while president William McKinley was still in office, it is as trustworthy and reliable today as it was then.
There is no match for this classic black beauty. Even the best copper clad, aluminum or stainless steel pans cannot match it for even heat distribution and retention or durability. Recently my ninety-seven year old Grandmother gave me her mother’s 9-¾ inch pan, a family heirloom now, and guaranteed not to be smashed, chipped or cracked by my butter-fingered husband.
A well-seasoned pan is basically non-stick, and still my go to pan for steaks, frittatas, corn breads, upside down cakes and omelettes. And as an added bonus, there is the conventional wisdom that food cooked in a cast iron pan will provide you with the necessary RDA of iron.
There are a few tricks to remember when dealing with cast iron pans to help maintain their lustrous and rust-free rustic appeal. If you buy a new pan, you should season it. Seasoning a pan refers to imparting to it a patina and gloss that would otherwise result from years, or seasons of use and care, as in, a seasoned veteran.
To season a new pan, coat the interior with oil and place in cold oven, heating to 400 degrees. Leave it in the oven for an hour or so, then turn off the heat. When the pan is room temperature, wipe off the extra oil and you’re good to go. The oils will have been partially absorbed by the micro porous surface of the pan, and gives it a glossy, smooth and mostly non-stick quality.When cooking with a cast iron pan, you should start the pan on a lower heat then gradually heat it up to as high as you want.
Avoid detergents when washing your pan, or harsh steel wool like brushes. Warm water and a nylon brush should do the trick. If you totally screwed up and burnt the crap out of something, you can use soap and a Kurly Kate, but you should re-season the pan before using.
Whether you use a cast iron Dutch oven, or a single-egg 3-inch baby pan, you will find yourself enamored of this indefatigable workhorse, and who knows, in 100 years your great grandkids will probably be squabbling over it.