This week is Hanukkah, so I’m going through my kitchen making sure I have everything I need for a Hanukkah dinner. I open the drawer looking for a cast iron pan– the one I use to fry latkes in, and I remember Nanny (my first husband’s grandmother) and her cast iron skillet.
We were visiting Nanny at her campsite by the Colorado River –they had driven out in their airstream to spend some time with us–we had just finished fishing and I was elbow deep in fish guts… (I must have cleaned 30 trout!). In Nanny’s hand was her 12″ skillet that she used when she makes her famous golden brown fish fry. Nanny looked at me, and said, ” you are certainly one of us now, the way you expertly cleaned those fish…”, I knew that this was the deepest compliment that she ever paid to anyone. I finally fit in… She made a wonderful meal- delicately pan fried fish in her cast iron pan, I am still humbled by the thought of it.
There it is… at the bottom of my storage drawer- my own cast iron pan–the best pan I own!
A benefit to using cast-iron pans in place of nonstick pans is that you avoid the harmful chemicals that are found in nonstick pans. The repellent coating that keeps food from sticking to nonstick pans contains PFCs (perfluorocarbons), a chemical that’s linked to liver damage, cancer, developmental problems and, according to one 2011 study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, early menopause. PFCs get released—and inhaled—from nonstick pans in the form of fumes when pans are heated on high heat. When the surface of the pan is scretched the chemical are also leched into the food and is ingested. Both regular and ceramic-coated cast-iron pans are great alternatives to nonstick pans for this reason.
Conducts Heat Well
The pan keeps its temperature, while a thin aluminum pan may drop by as much as 300°F when you add a half-pound rib eye steak to it, a cast iron pan will stick close to its original temperature, creating a thicker, crisper, more evenly browned crust.
Because the temp keeps up, less oil is absorbed into the food, therefore you don’t have to add as much oil to the pan when cooking.
A well seasoned pan is virtually non- stick.
Where to buy
Below are my favorites from Amazon.
Pick up one for yourself and a holiday gift for someone else… they will love it!
I have a spatula in one hand and with the other I am handing out plates of healthy foods - ingredients from sustainable local farms- freshly picked produce and spices. I see smiles of delight as my students ingest their meal. I am a community nutritionist. I teach people how to shop, cook, and grow healthy foods for optimal health. Trained in Medical Dietetics from Pennsylvania State University's College of Nutrition, certified in Holistic Nutrition, mother of three and wife of a gastroenterologist.