Ha! Did I surprise you? Yes of course I cook in cast iron besides using copper!! There are just some things that won’t work in tin-lined copper and work best (or only work at all!) in cast iron. Honestly, I feel strongly that if a kitchen has 2-3 pieces of cast iron, and 2-3 pieces of copper, you’d be set for like, 1000 years (no exaggeration).
Anyway, I use my cast iron skillets regularly (and actually a lot in winter when the grill is hidden by 3 ft of snow) and I have both vintage and modern pieces as well as my own 8” House Copper piece I seasoned out in a fire in the yard.
You want to use cast iron for anything that needs super high temperatures – anything over 400F. This means searing, blackening, and frying needs to happen in a cast iron skillet (and nothing tin-lined). If you go super hot with lots of oil, have a cover for your skillet or cast iron pot – whether that’s iron or aluminum foil or a glass topper that fits – you’ll thank yourself later during clean-up.
Main tip? Make sure your cast iron skillet or pot is HOT before you add any food. (This is opposite of tin-lined copper!)
I live in Wisconsin. Burgers in January don’t happen unless you can get out of your own driveway and make it to a local bar. If you do find yourself hankering for a cheeseburger in the winter months, you can always fire up the cast iron skillet and put some patties on. I make my burgers from scratch, usually mixing the ground beef with chopped onions and salt and pepper before forming them and popping them on. A 12” skillet can easily hold six adult size burgers.
This is strange, I know, but trust me. You know how when a recipe calls for roasted seeds for like, a salad? Well, you roast them in a cast iron pan. But sometimes you want the seeds for something else. Maybe you want them as part of the dressing, or you want them as crunch on top of cheese (trust me). Or else you just want them for part of some later granola. Add some oil, heat it up, and add seeds. You have to stir almost constantly or they start to burn, but even a little blackening adds flavor. My favorite seeds? Hemp, sesame, and sunflower, all combined!
- My husband adores grilled cheese sandwiches. If we have them, he eats four full sized sandwiches. No joke. I bet he could do five if I made them. But I adore grilled cheese plain in a cast iron skillet. This requires a more firm cheese, like Halloumi, or else it falls apart or melts, but trust me, the browning is worth it. Slice and brown with a bit of oil; serve warm by itself or over a salad.
- Potatoes. The beloved bane of any dieter’s existence. I adore hash browns, but not as much as my husband, who would probably marry them if I died. Potatoes with butter and oil in a pan, with a bit of salt and pepper and maybe a spice or two…well, those things are amazing. Serve them any way you like as long as they are warm and you have a winning combination. Extra crispy edges get extra points.
- Hot salad. It sounds like these words don’t belong together, but I promise they do. You start with warm anything. Bacon. Corn and butter. Figs. Prosciutto. Slices of fat parmesan cheese. Corners of buttered brussel sprouts. When you have put together a combination that sounds yummy, and it’s hot and half-roasted in a cast iron skillet, you add lettuce or arugula or any other fancy green. Toss a bit and serve warm, all glossy and slick. It never fails.