Among the many questions that find their way to my inbox weekly, is the question of cookware: namely, how do I choose my cookware, and what do I recommend using. For many people who are transitioning to a healthier lifestyle one step at a time, abandoning nonstick, Teflon and aluminum cookware ranks on their list of things to do, but it raises the question, "What do you use instead? And Why?"
In our kitchen, we abandoned nonstick-coated pans and aluminum pots ages ago in favor of stainless steel, cast iron and enameled cast iron. Stainless steel produces a beautiful sear, cast iron is impossible to beat when it comes to frying, but enameled cast iron takes my heart, and I use it for preparing most dishes including roasts, braised vegetables and meats, risottos and pilafs, stews, soups and similar dishes. For baking, you might ask, I use both stoneware and enameled cast iron.
Why I've Fallen for Enameled Cast Iron
- Enameled cast iron is incredibly easy to clean. After braising, stewing or roasting, the interior of my enameled cast iron pans and Dutch ovens wipe clean with a sponge.
- Enameled cast iron is durable. Enameled cast iron is heavy, and incredibly durable.
- Enameled cast iron is doesn't leach. While I use my regular cast iron skillet for many different foods, I avoid using it for acidic foods like chili and tomato sauces as acidic foods can potentially damage cast iron's seasoning and potentially leach iron and other metals into the food I prepare. This, of course, isn't a problem with enameled cast iron.
- Enameled cast iron are heirloom pieces. Enameled cast iron is durable, beautiful, strong and long-lasting, and they are heirloom pieces. Pieces to pass down from parent to child.
Purchasing Enameled Cast Iron
Enameled cast iron are heirloom-quality pieces of cookware, and, as such, they're pricier than inexpensive nonstick and aluminum cookware. For me, this means I've slowly added one piece at a time to my collection of enameled cast iron cookware.
Prices for enameled cast iron vary from mid-range, in the case of Lodge which produces a variety of beautiful cast iron and enameled pieces, to high-end in the case of Le Creuset. But remember, replacing one piece of cookware at a time with a better option like enameled cast iron can really help to make sure your kitchen is beautifully well-equipped for healthy, home cooking.
Essential Enameled Cast Iron Pieces
- Dutch Oven: You can use a Dutch (or French) oven for soups, stews, homemade broths, braised meats and even baking artisan-style bread.
- Braising Dish: I use these wide, shallow-lidded pots to make risottos, braised vegetables, and for baking, from time to time.
- Cast Iron Grill Pan: If you can't grill outdoors, a grill pan is super convenient to have.
- Enameled Cast Iron Baking Dish. I use this dish for roasting and baking.
Rachel Madel says
Hi there—what a great article! Curious—- What do you use for boiling water, making rice/quinoa etc.?
I use nickel-free stainless steel.
Hi, I am looking for a healthy omelette pan.any suggestions?
We do omelettes in enameled cast iron.
Couldn't agree more. Enameled cast iron is super easy to clear, lasts forever if well taken care of, and sears just as well as raw cast iron; but best of all it doesn't leech iron into your food.
I ended up getting Le Creuset skillet to see if enameled cookware would work for me. Now I also have a Le Creuset dutch oven and Im planning on getting a Le Creuset braiser when I find one on sale.
Good enameled cast iron does cost a lot of money but Ive heard of cheaper brands chipping. Given that this cookware lasts generations I didnt mind the price as much.
They really are a lifetime investment, and that’s so worth it.
Sara Mackenzie says
My Le Cruset has chipped in the base! Do you know if they re-enamel?
I'd reach out to le creuset directly.
I have 3 Martha Stewart enamel cast iron pans. I also have one Food Network and one Cuisinart. So far, I have only used Food Network and Cuisinart and they are very good. My advice to people is to always read instructions before using those kinds of cookware, then you should not have any problems later on. With enamel cast iron cookware, always treat the cookware as if you were holding a newborn baby.
Do I have to season or grease my enamal coated cast iron pan after cooking and cleaning it?