Friday, September 13, 2013

Cast Iron

I grew up in a house where cooking was done in cast iron pans only. As an adult I steered away from it because frankly they were difficult to find, out of style, and for me, hard to use. I jumped on the T Fal train until bits and pieces of the non stick surface started showing up in my cooking. Then I heard about the carcinogens in consuming such bits and promptly discarded the pans. Then I moved into Calphalon and Ray at the time was adding to my collection by gifting pans to me along the way. They are something I still use today and remain something I can rely on. After that I fell in love with All Clad stainless steel thanks to my father's Christmas gift one year. He bought me a huge skillet and for a long time I was simply to scared to use it because it was so lovely and I didn't want to ruin it. Finally I was in need of a skillet so broke down and tried it out. The rest is history. Come to find out the thing is practically indestructible. What an amazing pan, I love it because it can go from stove top to oven, it deglazes like a dream, plus makes incredible scalloped potatoes. You had me at potatoes. I have even used it for a chocolate chip skillet cookie recipe. Well as you know, cast iron has made a comeback and not just because of the iron it provides. I am in possession of two pans now and when I first started using it, I was terrified of burning things. I kept trying it though and adjusting temp resulting in less mistakes. However, I learned the hard way that pancakes don't turn out very well, as least for me. I created quite the mess. The whole seasoning of the pan thing is a bit mysterious so I keep it 'lubed' with olive oil. After washing I always put it back on the stove on low heat to dry and then I wipe it down with more olive oil. Seems to do the trick and it removes any odors from the previous meal. Again, perfect pans for stove to oven plus, like the All Clad, creates amazing pan sauces. Most recently I did a balsamic reduction to use over grilled chicken. The vinegar slowly caramelized into a lovely thickened pan sauce and created a rich depth of flavor. Even I was impressed because for the most part I thoroughly dislike my cooking. Lately my favorite has been to simply flatten some chicken breasts, marinate a bit in lots of salt/pepper (coarse ground), olive oil, fresh lemon and rosemary. I sear both sides in a hot cast iron and then I just transfer the pan to the oven to finish roasting at about 375. I have to always watch that I don't overcook it. Afterwards, I put everything back on the stove and add some balsamic vinegar to finish it - glazes the chicken really nicely and picks up all the delicious bits of lemon and rosemary. Creates really nice flavor. Pair it with a gazpacho salad (located on my Pinterest board) and you have a quick, lovely meal. Today calls for some Pumpkin Bread. Again, compliments of Pinterest, also located on my board. It is Starbuck's lightened version. It may not be lightened by the time I am finished with it. Chocolate and pumpkin, in my opinion, go very well together!

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