Cast iron trending this fall
Cast iron, once a common material for pots and pans, has tended in recent years to be used most visibly by either pro chefs or campers. Now it’s trending again in this fall’s kitchenware product previews.
Options range from basic skillets to grill pans to pots both diminutive (for sauces) and expansive (for stews and soups).
Chef Kevin Korman is about to open his new restaurant, Whitebird, in the Edwin Hotel in Chattanooga, Tennessee. On his menu: fondue, baked eggs and a savory Dutch pancake, all prepared using cast iron pans.
“Our cuisine is defined as Progressive Appalachian,” Korman says, “and cast-iron cooking played a large role in the history of Appalachia.”
The Tennessee Valley is rich in iron ore, so companies like Lodge Cast Iron set up home there. Korman will be using Lodge products in his kitchens, but aside from supporting a local maker, the material’s performance is what he cares about.
“Not only does cast iron retain heat better than anything else, the distribution of heat is really what makes it a winner,” Korman says. “Every part of the pan gives off an equal amount, so you don’t end up with certain areas that burn while others are still waiting to get some colour. This was a big consideration when we were developing dishes for the menu.”
Korman recalls meals prepared on cast iron at his grandmother’s house, and he has carried on the tradition with his own family.
“I have several sizes that I use daily at home for just about everything,” he says. “Both of my daughters love to help me cook, so I hope to hand the pans down to them as they get older.”
Beyond durability, cast iron’s big selling point is the heat retention that Korman mentioned. But bear in mind that it doesn’t heat evenly initially, so always let the pan come to the needed temperature on the burner before adding ingredients. That way, you’ll get a nice crisp sear and a consistent cook with your cast iron.
New finishing methods are improving the wearability and performance of cast iron.