A cast-iron pan is a low-maintenance piece of kitchen equipment that gives way more love than it takes.
If you love cooking, you know how searing a steak or roasting some Hasselback potatoes in any other pan than a well-season cast iron won’t do.
However, you can’t cook everything in a cast iron pan.
What Not to Cook in Cast Iron Pan?
Let’s explore foods you should keep your handy-dandy cast iron pan away from:
Cooks who love their meat with perfectly seared edges understand that protein and cast iron pans. However, delicate fish is a no-go regardless of whether a cast iron pan is non-stick or not.
It takes a few seconds for fish to cook because of how thin and delicate the meat is. At the same time, a cast iron pan doing what a cast iron pan does best – bringing in the heat from a million suns, becomes too much to handle for the delicate protein.
As a result, you’ll have charred fish stuck to the bottom of your cast iron pan, which will take a considerable amount of time to scrape off. Not to mention, what a waste of good fish?
Try using a non-stick enamel-covered skillet or perhaps a stainless-steel pan to get that fish just right.
Bolognese is done right when it’s simmered for hours with the right balance of aromatics, spices, and herbs. However, a cast-iron pan can alter the taste of the sauce due to its iron coating.
Some people may argue that acidity from an iron can elevate the flavor of the sauce. To that, we’ll say, well, good for you! However, not everyone prefers a metallic tinge on their taste palette, even if they cook tomatoes for dinner.
Furthermore, it is essential to understand that if a cast iron pan can ruin some foods you make, there are some ingredients that can have an adverse effect on the health of the pan too.
The longevity of a cast iron pan (which we feel is an eternity) depends on how well you treat its non-stick coating.
Simmering acidic foods too often in a non-stick pan can slowly tear away at the coating, making the cast iron pan such a great piece of equipment.
Hence, it is always wise to use a stainless-steel pot for your Bolognese. Plus, a delicious chunky Bolognese sauce way more manageable in a pot than a pan!
The question here isn’t whether you can make an egg in a cast iron pan; the question is whether you should.
A new cast iron pan can make eggs stick to the surface in seconds, especially if you are making scrambled eggs with cheese.
Sticky things won’t do well with a cast iron pan, not until it’s well-seasoned.
Using a cast iron pan for eggs will result in brown, burnt eggs that may not taste that great. Not to mention the burnt bits you’ll have to scrape off from the sides and bottom of the pan.
Remember, the Italian chef’s extraordinaire secret to delectable food is a well-seasoned pan.
Most chefs season their pan more than their meat because a cast iron pan has the ability to soak up the flavor. If you keep scraping and washing off the flavor from the surface of the pan, it’s never going to get seasoned enough to perform at its best.
Hence, stick to a regular non-stick pan for all your eggy needs.
Making dessert in a non-stick cast iron pan is not a crime.
The truth is that a cast iron provides an unmatchable crumbly crust to most pies and crust-related desserts. Of course, there’s also the whole “you can directly put it in an oven thing” that everyone loves so much about a cast iron pan.
However, it is best to have a separate cast iron pan for your desserts and savories. If you use the same pan for both, your pie or banana bread might come out tasting a bit garlicky.
For optimum flavor, it’s wise to use a baking pan, baking sheet tray, or an entirely separate cast iron pan dedicated to your sweet treats.
If you do invest in a separate pan for desserts, a cast iron pan cookie with a gooey chocolate center should be your first mission!
Like eggs, rice has a highly sticky texture, especially when you are cooking it without any oil. The individual grains tend to stick to the bottom and the sides, creating a distinct burnt rice smell that can put anyone off.
Cast iron pans can be great for stir-fries if they are well-seasoned with all the oil and meat juice that you’ve been using in it.
However, if you have a new cast iron pan, it is best to steer clear from making rice.
It can be an absolute hassle to scrape off individual rice grains from any pot and not just a cast iron pan. The starchy nature of the rice enabled it to be stickier than most foods and even eggs.
Even if you burn rice a little at the bottom, the high heat of the cast iron pan will ensure that the burnt smell spreads throughout, potentially ruining your meal.
A successful flip makes the perfect pancake.
A cast-iron pan can make the pancake batter stick enough for it to resist a flip. Not only will this make your pancake darker than you like, but it might also just end up being inedible.
Regular nonstick pans are a better solution for making fluffy, evenly cooked pancakes.
Don’t let a cast iron pan stop you from stacking them high.
However, suppose you do have a well-seasoned cast iron pan with a nice thick layer of grease.
In that case, you might be able to make pancakes keeping in mind that they will absorb all the savory and garlicky flavors from the pan.
Don’t store your leftovers in a cast iron pan either
Let’s suppose you cook for your family and some leftovers need to go into the fridge. A cast iron is durable, but it is not a great idea to put it in the fridge.
The acid in the food you cook and store in the pan can eat away at the carbon layer.
The carbon layer contributes to a well-seasoned pan, and if this layer is damaged, the non-stick properties of your cast iron pan will no longer work.
Similarly, moisture in the food you store can enable the surface of the cast iron pan to rust. Yet again, you would have to spend a considerable amount of time (read: a lifetime) in removing the rust, which will inevitably remove the pan’s seasoning as well.
On a more serious note, storing food in a cast iron pan can lead to iron toxicity. Iron toxicity is something that can happen if you ingest too much iron that sticks to the food through the moisture.
If this happens in smaller quantities, it may not affect. However, people who have difficulty metabolizing iron can experience several symptoms, such as stomach pain and fatigue.
This is probably a good time to mention that you should not place a hot cast iron pan in your fridge even if you are storing the food for a few hours till you finally put it away in the glass containers.
The hot pan can quickly crack the shelves of your refrigerator and mess with the temperatures that keep everything fresh and crisp inside the fridge.
So, what can you cook in a cast iron pan?
According to the food experts, a cast iron pan is great for frying chicken or even doughnuts.
The oil and fat from the meat coat the pan in a silky-smooth layer that can elevate the performance of the cast iron pan in future uses.
Everything from pork chops, schnitzel to a Buffalo chicken dip, the cast iron pan is a rewarding investment.
If several kinds of pasta are more your forte, then try using your cast iron pan for a classic lasagna or a creamy baked pasta dish. Not only does a cast iron pan give excellent results in creamy, gooey baked dishes, but it is also super easy to use.
The cast-iron pan is perhaps one of the pioneers of one-pot recipes that we all love so much.
Don’t let the highlighted information stop you from getting yourself a cast iron pan. Once you invest in one, you will find yourself reaching out to it more than any other kitchen equipment.
The only catch is for you to learn how to season your pan correctly before using it for foods such as eggs and rice. Till then, break out your new cast iron pan and fry up some bacon to get that seasoning started.
You have to place your trust in us when we say that there will be nothing better than frying an egg in a cast iron pan that has been deeply seasoned with bacon fat!
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