Seasoning cast iron

I have cooking equipment in my kitchen that needs seasoning: double-burner cast iron grill/griddle, a round single-burner griddle, two small skillets (the two-egg size), and a carbon steel skillet.  Once seasoned these take little care.

I’ve always used vegetable oil to season mine. I was interested to find an article recommending beeswax.  Now that I have bees, perhaps I will try that next time my seasoning needs refreshing.  It seems as if it might have some advantages.

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Cast iron cooking

I grew up with cast iron–and I still love it. I have some enamel cast iron cookware (Le Creuset), but I also use the plain black cast iron stuff that is a workhorse in the kitchen, for example, my griddleLodge is a readily available brand., likely even at your local hardware store.

Plain black cast iron is a great way to add some useful items to your batterie de cuisine inexpensively.  Sure, it does have some limitations, but lots of advantages, too. Sure, Le Cruset enameled cast iron is wonderful, colorful, but not an inexpensive way to get the advantages in your kitchen (and it also has some disadvantages).  One thing about cast iron: it is heavy! Seriously heavy–that’s part of what makes it desirable, but can make it difficult to handle; skillet-shaped pans can with dual handles rather than the long handle of the skillet can be a good idea if you are concerned about the weight.

 

There seem to be some misconceptions and myths surrounding this versatile cookware. The concept of “seasoning” seems to induce a particular hesitancy for some. Even though I’ve used it for a long time (not willing to give away how long) and feel comfortable with it, there is an online course with Clifford A. Wright (a favorite food person of mine) on cooking with cast iron (through Craftsy).

One of the things I’ve always liked about Clifford Wright’s recipes is the focus on flavor, without a bunch of frou-frou stuff–it’s like black cast iron–just the basics. He also stresses looking and tasting as part of the cooking so that you can learn to improvise as you cook what you want to eat as you like it. This orientation carries right into this course. If you need an introduction to the care and feeding of cast iron, this is worth every penny.  The recipes that are demonstrated are available to download as PDF document.

This really gets to the heart of single-serving, simple, delicious, easy cooking for one! One of my favorite “helpers” for this kind of cooking has become fused and infused olive oils.  I especially like Bull City Olive Oil as a source since I can taste the oils before I bring them home. If I’m unsure how I’ll like it in actual cooking, I’ll get a “mini”–just enough to try a few different ways in my kitchen: new addition for me is dill infused oil. I like dill, but it’s not a flavor that’s at the top of my list–so it will be interesting to see if I want (need) a bigger bottle of the oil–(I’m thinking just a drizzle to finish off griddled salmon).

Another thing I liked that there is no focus on high-tech equipment–the recipes are demonstrated using kitchen equipment like an old-fashioned, hand-cranked egg beater. You won’t watch the videos and then feel you need to run to the cookware store for equipment!

Basic techniques are explained and demonstrated very well, and recipes that are easy to adjust for cooking for one.  There are recipes from around the world to bring some adventure to your cooking for one–all this with inexpensive black cast iron.

(Disclaimer: no affiliation or monetary considerations from anything mentioned here–just personal opinion and my (opinionated) preferences here).

Improvise! A son gôut!

 

Always Hungry? Another improvisation

Pork is one of my favorite meats, and it is not on the list of approved protein sources, although I assume it is in the category of “game and other meats” so I’m improvising a Phase 1 meal with a pork chop this evening. After reading a recipe from The Kitchn for 20160322_163300“Sweet and Spicy Braised Cabbage” my mouth was set for pork. The sweet part is going to prevent me from having that to go with my pork chop this evening (save this one for Phase 2 or 3).

I thought about taking  the lazy way out for vegetables and carbohydrate–use some of the mixed greens and borlotti beans that I had with my tuna steak, with  an addition of a little extra seasoning for the second time around, but that just did not tingle my taste buds today. So, sautéed kale this evening. I have a large bag of kale that I’m first going to sauté  simply with olive oil and then add seasonings to what I’m going to have with the pork chop–leaving the “extra” for later use to season differently  for later use. (I do quite often to avoid wasting food because I’m a picky eater who doesn’t want the same thing over and over.)

Supper this evening was part of this pork chop cooked on my cast iron griddle as described for pork neck steak–smoking hot griddle, first two minutes on each side, then turned at minute intervals until it reached an internal temperature of 130 degrees to allow for continued cooking while resting. Kale sautéed with black-eyed peas, and a side of sautéed apple (not good enough to eat out of hand, but fine when cooked). The sautéed apple replaced dessert with this meal. The contrasts of the slight bitterness of the kale, the earthiness of the black-eyed peas, and the sweetness of the apple with the pork did make my taste buds sit up and take notice.

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