Cast-iron cookware has been used for centuries. Its ability to hold an even heat makes it ideal for anything from searing meats to slow cooking. Because of its enamel coating, enameled cast-iron cookware does not need to be seasoned. Because it does not require seasoning, the cookware can be cleaned using dish soap without risking damaging the pot or pan's seasoning.
Searing Meats for Flavor
Cast-iron pans hold heat very well. One technique for cooking meats is to heat the pan to very high temperatures by placing it on the highest heat your stove can produce for 10 to 15 minutes. Just before using the pan, turn the heat to medium. The pan will retain the initial high heat long enough to sear the meat. Coat the pan with a little oil and sear both sides of the meat. Add your favorite spices and continue cooking the meat normally.
Enameled pots or dutch ovens are excellent for making beef stew. To make beef stew, put the pan on medium heat with a little oil in the bottom. After the pan and oil are heated up, usually 5 minutes or so, toss in cubed beef. Add salt and pepper and cook the meat thoroughly. When the meat is nearly cooked, add 1/2 onion (diced) and cook the meat and onions until the onions are translucent. Once the meat is cooked, fill the pot 1/2 to 2/3 with water. While the water is coming to a boil, peel cut up enough potatoes and carrots to fill the remainder of the pot. Add the potatoes to the pot. Make sure the water covers the potatoes and carrots. Once the pot starts to boil, turn the heat to low and allow it to simmer until everything is cooked. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add 2 Tbsp. of flour to cold water and whisk until completely mixed. Pour the flour and water mixture in the stew for thickening. Use a strainer if you are worried about chunks of flour. Cook the stew until thickened to your satisfaction. Serve with salt and pepper.
Breaded Fried Catfish
To make breaded catfish fillets, add about 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch of oil to your enameled cast iron skillet. Heat the oil thoroughly on medium. Wash the catfish fillet and dip in beaten egg. Roll the catfish in flour seasoned with salt and pepper. Dip the floured catfish fillet in egg again and then roll in dried bread crumbs. Gently lay the breaded fillet in the hot oil. Cook for several minutes and turn. Repeat until the catfish is a golden brown. Remove the catfish from the hot oil and allow to drain on paper towels to remove the excess oil.
Although he grew up in Latin America, Mr. Ma is a writer based in Denver. He has been writing since 1987 and has written for NPR, AP, Boeing, Ford New Holland, Microsoft, RAHCO International, Umax Data Systems and other manufacturers in Taiwan. He studied creative writing at Mankato State University in Minnesota. He speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese, English and reads Spanish.