We love learning new techniques from different chefs. We attended a cooking class sponsored by Independent Health this week at Artisan Kitchens, called “Cast Iron Cooking.” K2.0 already has several cast iron dutch ovens and skillets that are used on repeat, but we are definitely open to new ideas.
Back story: One of my favorite childhood memories is watching my grandfather make buckwheat pancakes on a cast iron griddle over an open campfire on Labor Day weekend in Vermont. Recalling this memory creates an olfactory collage assault of dew- strewn grass, pine needles, maple wood burning, and homemade maple syrup warming on the griddle in a cast iron saucepan.
So … we were curious. What don’t we know about cast iron cooking?
Chef Andy Ruszcyk (of the famous Hoak’s Restaurant and Alchemy restaurants) has been cooking with cast iron his whole career.
What we learned:
We learned that cast iron cooking manufacturing originated in China in the 6th century B.C. and has barely changed since. Molten metal is poured into a sand mold, which is broken apart after the pan cools.
We also learned that cooking in cast iron increases the iron content in your food, which is good, because iron aids in transporting oxygen in the blood.
What we knew before:
Cleaning cast iron is easy, but the key is making sure the pan is DRY after washing with warm water and giving it a light scrub with a sponge or wooden utensil. Never put away a damp pan, or you’ll be scrubbing off rust the next time you go to use that pan.
How to clean cast iron:
Rinse with plain hot water. Soap is not necessary. Pour a little canola oil (or other neutral oil) on a rag and wipe the inside and outside of the pan with oil. Place the pan back on the stove burner and turn the heat to high. Once the pan heats thoroughly, turn off the heat and let the pan cool. It’s seasoned and ready for the next time! You could also place the oiled pan upside down on a rack in a 450º preheated oven for an hour. (Line the rack below with aluminum foil to catch any drips.) Done!
Chef Andy put Warren and I to work creating the fruit salsa to complement the Jerk Chicken Thighs, (knife skills on point!) while others in the class braised the chicken in cast iron skillets, grilled the asparagus on a cast iron griddle and seared a perfect flank steak on the same griddle.
It was a great dinner! We ate family style, and had a great conversation with Devon Dams-O’Connor, who is a freelance writer with Buffalo Spree, the Buffalo News, and many other publications. She also has a food blog, called Roots n’ Veggies. She’s a gifted writer and a wonderfully grounded individual. Kudos, Devon!
The asparagus was topped with a dollop of goat cheese mixed with honey – yes please!
We had a wonderful time, and, of course, went online and ordered a great cast iron 2-burner griddle from Lodge which arrived TODAY! Yay! Stay tuned for Cast Iron K2.0!