Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Cooking with Cast Iron

Last week I was asked to teach a technique class at Williams-Sonoma in Peachtree City. I have been working there during the holidays and was delighted to have the opportunity to share my love for cooking with the customers. My topic was "Cooking with Cast Iron". Cast iron is one of my favorite types of cookware. I have a wonderful collection of seasoned cast iron, thanks to our grandmothers and mothers, and several Le Creuset pots, so it was an subject of great interest.

Being a Southern cook, I use my cast iron for cornbread, stews, soups and roast beef. The goal of the class is to "make the most of your cast iron pieces with delightful yet simple recipes." And that I did!

The feature recipe was 40-Clove Garlic Chicken made using a Williams-Sonoma starter sauce. This is so simple and delicious. With a jar of the starter sauce and 1 chicken, you can create a tasty meal with very little effort. I served the chicken over rice to soak up the delicious sauce.

When cooking with cast iron, the main thing to remember is to avoid the temptation of cooking with too high a heat. Cast iron is an excellent conductor of heat and if you aren't careful, you will get the pan too hot and food will stick. When browning meat, heat the pan before adding the oil and meat. This will prevent the meat from sticking. Since cast iron is an excellent conductor, the heat is retained and for a long time even after removing from the heat source. This is great for keeping your food hot while serving but not so great when you have overheated your pan. So moderation is the key.

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