I'd say it is best for cooking meat, with the possible exception of eggs in a small skillet if you don't want to use teflon. Actually, a cast iron griddle might be useful--I find it necessary for making naan and pita because you need a very hot surface to make it puff a bit. Plus, it could be used for eggs and pancakes and the like on the stovetop.
Also, enameled cast iron definitely has its place in a vegetarian kitchen, especially if you cook a lot of dried legumes. It used to be my favorite--just bring to a boil on the stovetop and finish in the oven for an hour and a half for most beans.
pierino is a trusted source on General Cooking and Tough Love.
Au contraire. Cast iron is great for cooking pommes frittes or anything else you want to deep fry: zucchini blossoms, battered okra, tempura etc. Just get your peanut oil or canola oil up to about 375F and your all set. The cast iron will season handsomely with repeated use.
It makes (with a little help from me) the best potatoes - hash brown like. I use my cast iron for many things. Breads are inspired when i can't be bothered to fire up the oven. I don't cook with liquids in mine - just light fat coatings. Grapeseed oil is my favorite.
I use mine for everything. Meat, eggs, veggies, beans. The best quick broccoli (or cauliflower, or asparagus, or brussels sprouts, etc.) is made by heating the cast iron skillet to pretty hot, drizzling some oil in, tossing it the veggies and letting them get crispy on some edges, then add a couple tablespoons of water, put the lid on, steam for 3-4 minutes, uncover, let the water sizzle off, add another glug or two of oil, turn off the heat and season with salt and pepper, with lemon juice added after you take it out of the pan. You can also add several cloves of garlic, chopped or sliced, and all your neighbors will come over to see what sort of heaven is brewing in your kitchen.
Also, since vegetarians have to be creative with sources of iron, it's great that each dish you prepare in an iron skillet will have some of that iron. When I was pregnant, my OB specifically recommended cooking in cast iron to deal with my borderline anemia.
Its almost mandatory. Its great for Sauteing, & searing vegetables for stir fries, Deep frying, Roasting spices, Absolutely cannot imagine my vegetarian kitchen w/o my cast iron utensils. I practically can use it for making anything except dishes with acidic ingredients (tamarind, tomatoes , yogurt, buttermilk etc.)
I think the key word for Submitter is "a Pot" not a pan.
IMHO, a pot probably not. A enamel on cast iron pot would be more useful for veggies--making stews that involve acidic stuff etc.
A pan/skillet, Yes! you get a nice browning on veggies with a skillet---a well seasoned skillet. Vital for making good cornbread and many other things.
a cast iron pot is great for making chili and all kinds of non-acidic stews. it's also great for deep frying (the more you deep fry, the more you season the pot!), making cobblers or crisps, and baking one-pot rice dishes.
Cast iron is great for vegetarians. Besides chilies and frying you can start a fritata on the burner and then transfer it to the oven to finish it. I use my cast iron all the time when I cook for my mom who is also a vegetarian.
buy a bell metal cooking vessel wok you can use even for acidic ingredients (tamarind, tomatoes , yogurt, buttermilk etc.
I almost never use my cast iron skillet for meat, actually! I love it for baking (great corn bread), frying, you name it. I often make frittatas in it, or hash browns. Sometimes I'll use it to fry up a batch of tortilla chips, and most often I use it for roasting veggies.
@CozyDelicious. "I love it for baking (great corn bread).
Yes, you can't make good corn bread without a cast iron skillet.
One thing many recipes leave off is pre-heating the pan to very hot before pouring in the batter. Sounds like a simple step..but I've seen many that omit that, resulting in pale crestless cornbread.
Wow, thanks for all the great tips everyone!
Kari is the manager of Whisk, a kitchenware store in Brooklyn.
Cast Iron - it's not just for meat! As other commenters have stated, cast iron is an invaluable piece for any kitchen.
In addition to being able to get an excellent sear on vegetables, cast iron has excellent heat retention - perfect for stews and braises!
Finally, because many vegetarians suffer from a lack of Iron in their diets, cast iron is an excellent way to add iron to your diet, without taking supplements.
One of my favorite cast iron products is the "combo cooker" from Lodge. (As seen here!) The lid of the oven does double duty as a 10 1/2" skillet that you can use on it's own, or as a lid. Perfect! And, at around $50, it won't break the bank (another HUGE plus for Cast Iron!).
@KariK, Thanks for the useful tip about the combo cooker. This would be perfect for smaller deep frying projects. & as you say the cover is a skillet bonus! Hi Ho Hi ho... off to amazon.com I go!!!
Anita is a vegan pastry chef & founder of Electric Blue Baking Co. in Brooklyn.
Of all the cast iron ware I have, the thing I use most is the griddle. It's one of those flat things that has grill marks on one side, smooth on the other, and fits over two stove burners. I have not been making a lot of stews, especially now that the weather is getting warmer, so the pot has been a little ignored. But the griddle is great for pancakes, crepes, veggie sausage, caramelizing onions, indoor grilling, etc.
The best part about cast iron is the price. I got my griddle years ago at Macy's for $10! My cast iron pot was the same price. They more expensive kinds are the ones that come pre-seasoned. I strongly recommend buying them un-seasoned and doing it yourself. They will last longer, and you'll save money.
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