Fat free food and cast iron cooking aren't usually a well-known duo, but if you think about it, cast iron doesn't deserve it's unhealthy reputation for greasy cooking. In fact, experienced chefs rely on cast iron for great taste when cooking light, and you can too, with a just a few tips.
First, consider the non-stick properties of cast iron cookware. It's patina, or smooth surface build-up, is the key to fat-free cooking. Teflon can wear down with use, but cast iron just gets better and better. To start the seasoning process just wipe with shortening and bake the piece in your oven. The pores of the iron will fill and solidify with the oil, giving your pan it's first layer of this coveted patina. Eventually, with continued use, it turns shiny and black; a well-seasoned tool for a lifetime that can be passed on for generations.
To correctly use your cast iron during the cooking process, do the following:
Preheat your cookware.
Make sure you heat up your pan before placing food on it. Spread a light coat of oil (or a short spray) on your pan or griddle, then let it heat on medium or low heat for a few minutes. On a well-seasoned pan, you can even use broth instead of oil.
Use Low Heat.
Once warm, your cast iron will hold onto that heat. Be cautious not to overheat, as your pan will stay too hot for a long time. For best results, use as low a heat as you can. This will prevent burning, which is the common reason food sticks to cast iron.
Cook it Slowly.
A lower heat means a slower cooking time, and that brings out the flavor. Many food flavors are enhanced if given enough time to develop. This is doubly true with cast iron, as its patina will introduce a unique flavor unmatched in steel or aluminum cookware.
Many people today associate cast iron cooking with the calorie dense, heavy food that grandma used to make. But nothing could be further from the truth. A well-seasoned cast iron skillet or griddle is an indispensable tool for anyone who wishes to make food that is great tasting and good for you.