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 making 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. Find an enameled cast iron Dutch Oven here and here.
- Braising Dish: I use these wide, shallow lidded pots to make risottos, braised vegetables and for baking, from time to time. Find an enameled cast iron braising dish here.
- Cast Iron Grill Pan: If you can't grill outdoors, a grill pan is super convenient to have. This is the one I use in my kitchen
- Enameled Cast Iron Wok. Heavy and sturdy, I use a cast iron wok for stirfries and for frying. Find one here.
- Enameled Cast Iron Baking Dish. I use this dish for roasting and baking. Find one here.