Wednesday, February 8, 2012

A Cast Iron Love Affair...

After destroying a high-end non-stick Scanpan, I started researching the original, indestructible, non-stick pan: cast iron. I started, as I often do, chatting with a salesperson at City Kitchens. He informed me that most, if not all of the modern non-stick surfaces are intended to be used with vegetable fats and repeated use with animal fat can actually degrade the non-stick surface. Considering that I cook daily with bacon grease, modern non-stick surfaces are clearly not for me.

So, cast iron. Something about the Lodge brand pans has never impressed me. They're bulky, pre-seasoned with who-knows-what, and their rough texture just doesn't seems very conducive to optimal non-stick. However Lodge is one of the few (American made) cast iron cookware companies that still exists... so I turned to eBay to find some quality old-fashioned cast iron from the early 1900's.

Griswold and Wagner were two American cast iron producers around the turn of the century. They were eventually bought in the 1950's and now you can apparently still find "Wagner" pans that are now made in China.  Both Wagner and Griswold pans gained a reputation of being high quality pans - they're light weight and forged in a way that maximizes non-stickness. Interestingly, Griswold pans are hot collectors items while Wagner pans go relatively unnoticed in the antique market.  This means it was relatively easy for me to find a prime-condition 10inch Wagner pan for about $30 (Whereas the exact same pan with a "Griswold" stamp might have cost at least $100... economics is silly).

As soon as I got my Wagner pan in the mail, I threw it in the oven to cook off the seasoning so that I could re-season it with bacon grease.  What is brilliant about this is that every morning when I cook bacon, I'm doing something good for my pan - whereas before I was just slowly killing my Scanpan with bacon.  It's funny how much better I feel about life knowing I'm being good to my cast iron pan and in return my cast iron pan is good to me.

The first thing I made was poutine. I fried french fries in my cast iron pan. Then poured off the excess grease, spread the french fries on the bottom of the pan, covered them with gravy and Golden Glen Farms cheese curds and then I put the whole thing in the oven until the cheese melted.

This pan made the best french fries I've ever had.  Needless to say, I'm totally head over heals in love with cast iron.

1 comment:

  1. Yay! I'm glad you're enjoying your cast iron pan!!!