There are as many theories on the “right” way to cook as there are people who cook. This book contains one set of opinions related to cast iron. The tips, tricks, techniques, and recipes found here describe everything you'll need to know to begin using, or improve how you currently use, cast-iron cookware.
These glossy black pans provide benefits and challenges that other cookware doesn't provide. And they result in dishes that taste different (many say better) from what you'll create with other pans. Cast-iron cookware requires an investment in time and care not necessary with other types. But if you make the initial investment, you'll be pleased, and may ignore some of the other pieces you own in favor of cast iron. So whether you've found grandma's old skillet that held piles of pancakes on Saturday mornings, or you've just seen a cooking show and decided to follow a food-based whim and give these pans a try, you'll be challenged and satisfied. After you've used your pans for a while, you may even find yourself bragging about them to your friends and family.
Cooking in cast iron doesn't limit you to grandma's American classics like cornbread, pancakes, and bacon-fried everything. These dishes are very good and you'll find many of them in this book, but Americans aren't the only ones who use cast iron for cooking. German, French, British, Welsh, Japanese, African, Asian, and South American cuisines use cast-iron pans, and that doesn't cover all cultures. Cast iron's durability makes it a great choice, no matter what cuisine you're cooking.
Even if you've never been to any of these places, or met someone from these cultures, you can create food that is inspired by their cooking. Most Americans have never been to Mexico, but taco night is common across the country. Nothing can stop you from making a West African chicken stew, a pot of Belgian mussels, or even a sweet and tangy pork dish from Iceland. The recipes you'll find here are inspired by these cuisines, and most of the ingredients needed are available at your local grocery store.
Eggs, for example, are eaten by people all over the world, and frying an egg is the simplest way to cook it. A fried egg is basic breakfast food in America, but in Korea it would be placed on top of a bowl of Bi Bim Bop (vegetables, rice, and light pickles that are mixed together and baked), or in France it would be part of a toasted ham and cheese sandwich to make a Croque Madame. Sauerkraut is a uniquely German dish and served as a plain side dish or on a sausage as a garnish. But when baked by the Alsatian French with bacon, sausage, and beer, it becomes Choucroute. The ingredient loses the sharp, pickled flavor, and becomes a heart-warming and hearty winter dish. And all of these dishes can, and should, be made in the cast-iron pans you're likely to find at your local department store, hardware store, or high-end cooking store. The iconic shiny, black skillet is the most commonly used pan you'll find, but Dutch ovens, griddles, grill pans, chicken fryers, and a wide variety of bakeware can be found easily as well. And as you'll discover, newer isn't necessarily better. So go through grandma's attic, visit flea markets and yard sales, or shop online to find the pan that may transform how you cook, think about cooking, and how you enjoy the world's cuisines.