Mark Bittman's Ode to Cast Iron



L

Leila

Guest
In the NY Times today:

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/07/dining/07mini.html

Ever So Humble, Cast Iron Outshines the Fancy Pans
By MARK BITTMAN - the New York Times
December 7, 2005

AS cookware becomes more expensive and the kinds available become more
varied, it's increasingly clear to me that most "new" pots and pans are
about marketing. For most tasks, old-style cookware is best. So these
days when I'm asked for a recommendation, I reply with an old-fashioned
answer: cast iron.

My personal return to cast iron began less than a year ago when I began
to heed the warnings against preheating chemically treated pans and
putting them in hot ovens, which could create potentially harmful
fumes.

As most experienced cooks know, you can't brown food unless you preheat
your skillet, and I frequently transfer food from stove top to oven.

So cast iron is a logical choice, especially in skillets, unless you
require gorgeous stainless to make a style point or you can afford
copper - which is ideal for sautéing because its heat distribution is
incomparable - and the time to care for it. The only disadvantages are
that cast iron is heavy (look for skillets with handles on both sides)
and it requires a bit of care to keep it seasoned and looking nice.

But cast iron has so many benefits. Well seasoned, it is nearly as
nonstick as any manufactured nonstick surface and far more so than
stainless, aluminum or even copper pans.

Cast iron is practically free compared with other high-quality pots and
pans ($20, say, for a skillet). In addition, it lasts nearly forever:
the huge skillet I bought around 1970 for $10 is still going strong.

(end excerpt --printed under fair use laws - don't sic your Times
lawyers on me!)

Etc. etc. Isn't Mark Bittman sensible? I've been devoted to my cast
iron skillets for years. I want a big one with a glass lid but I don't
really need it, since I've got a big Le Creuset. If you're afraid to
season it, the pre-seasoned is only a few dollars more.

I stir fry in my cast iron skillet (all the more reason to get a big
one); fry eggs, make sauces, sautee veggies or onions. They're great
for toasting nuts, caramelizing sugar or onions, and all kinds of
browning. Of course we make pancakes, french toast and omelets in it,
and it's lovely for a frittata (although I use the Le Creuset too, just
because it's bigger).

Leila
 
D

Dee Randall

Guest
"Leila" <[email protected]> wrote in message
news:[email protected]
In the NY Times today:

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/07/dining/07mini.html

Ever So Humble, Cast Iron Outshines the Fancy Pans
By MARK BITTMAN - the New York Times
December 7, 2005

AS cookware becomes more expensive and the kinds available become more
varied, it's increasingly clear to me that most "new" pots and pans are
about marketing. For most tasks, old-style cookware is best. So these
days when I'm asked for a recommendation, I reply with an old-fashioned
answer: cast iron.

My personal return to cast iron began less than a year ago when I began
to heed the warnings against preheating chemically treated pans and
putting them in hot ovens, which could create potentially harmful
fumes.

As most experienced cooks know, you can't brown food unless you preheat
your skillet, and I frequently transfer food from stove top to oven.

So cast iron is a logical choice, especially in skillets, unless you
require gorgeous stainless to make a style point or you can afford
copper - which is ideal for sautéing because its heat distribution is
incomparable - and the time to care for it. The only disadvantages are
that cast iron is heavy (look for skillets with handles on both sides)
and it requires a bit of care to keep it seasoned and looking nice.

But cast iron has so many benefits. Well seasoned, it is nearly as
nonstick as any manufactured nonstick surface and far more so than
stainless, aluminum or even copper pans.

Cast iron is practically free compared with other high-quality pots and
pans ($20, say, for a skillet). In addition, it lasts nearly forever:
the huge skillet I bought around 1970 for $10 is still going strong.

(end excerpt --printed under fair use laws - don't sic your Times
lawyers on me!)

Etc. etc. Isn't Mark Bittman sensible? I've been devoted to my cast
iron skillets for years. I want a big one with a glass lid but I don't
really need it, since I've got a big Le Creuset. If you're afraid to
season it, the pre-seasoned is only a few dollars more.

I stir fry in my cast iron skillet (all the more reason to get a big
one); fry eggs, make sauces, sautee veggies or onions. They're great
for toasting nuts, caramelizing sugar or onions, and all kinds of
browning. Of course we make pancakes, french toast and omelets in it,
and it's lovely for a frittata (although I use the Le Creuset too, just
because it's bigger).

Leila

I watched Mark Bittman last night make shrimp paella in an ordinary pot/pan.
But he was truly smitten with the Spaniard's (can't remember his name)
paella pan, which was absolutely huge (for a restaurant or 12 or so people).
If anyone gets a chance to see this tonight, Thurs or Friday on the reuns
(on PBS HD), it's a good show.
Dee Dee
 
M

Melba's Jammin'

Guest
In article <[email protected]>,
"Leila" <[email protected]> wrote:

>
> I stir fry in my cast iron skillet (all the more reason to get a big
> one); fry eggs, make sauces, sautee veggies or onions. They're great
> for toasting nuts, caramelizing sugar or onions,


Not to mention browning flour and oil for gumbo roux.
--
http://www.jamlady.eboard.com, updated 12-6-05, Skyline Aglow - the 35mm picture
 
S

Sheldon

Guest
Leila wrote:
> In the NY Times today:
>
> http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/07/dining/07mini.html
>
> Ever So Humble, Cast Iron Outshines the Fancy Pans
> By MARK BITTMAN - the New York Times
> December 7, 2005
>
> AS cookware becomes more expensive and the kinds available become more
> varied, it's increasingly clear to me that most "new" pots and pans are
> about marketing. For most tasks, old-style cookware is best. So these
> days when I'm asked for a recommendation, I reply with an old-fashioned
> answer: cast iron.


So, you're on a nostalgia trip... life is not how you imagined it would
be... so a return to bygone days that were cozier, or as you'd like to
remember they were.

> My personal return to cast iron began less than a year ago when I began
> to heed the warnings against preheating chemically treated pans and
> putting them in hot ovens, which could create potentially harmful
> fumes.


What makes you think non-stick coated cookware is a necessity or even
desirable, it is not

> As most experienced cooks know, you can't brown food unless you preheat
> your skillet, and I frequently transfer food from stove top to oven.


So what, any skillet can be preheatred, and all materials can be
purchased in oven proof mode.

> So cast iron is a logical choice, especially in skillets, unless you
> require gorgeous stainless to make a style point or you can afford
> copper - which is ideal for sautéing because its heat distribution is
> incomparable - and the time to care for it. The only disadvantages are
> that cast iron is heavy (look for skillets with handles on both sides)
> and it requires a bit of care to keep it seasoned and looking nice.


Quality stainless need not be expensive, only if you're buying
labels... quality aluminum is great too and not expensive either.

> But cast iron has so many benefits.


Yep, it is definitely reactive, what a great benefit! Yeah... and the
main benefit of cast iron is if you want arms like Popeye... don't even
think of sauteing... talk about carpal tunnel rehab.

> Cast iron is practically free compared with other high-quality pots and
> pans ($20, say, for a skillet). In addition, it lasts nearly forever:
> the huge skillet I bought around 1970 for $10 is still going strong.


It ain't free if you consider all the time/effort spent caring for
it... cast iron pans are without a doubt the most high maintenance/care
cookware. So if you're willing to invest all that same care (and don't
possess the cooking skills to cook with stainless/aluminum skillets)
then cast iron can't hold a candle, not in any respect whatsoever, to
carbon steel.

Sheldon