Three Things to Consider Before Buying Enameled Cast-iron Cookware
How to choose the best heavy-duty Dutch oven, skillet, and casserole dish for your kitchen.
Enameled cast-iron cookware offers the best of two cooking worlds—the even heat retention and distribution of cast iron, and the non-stick qualities of enamel. Because you never have to cook with cast iron on heat much higher than medium, it practically guarantees you won’t burn anything, and clean-up is a breeze. With proper care, an enameled cast-iron pot or pan will last more than a lifetime.
Enameled cast-iron cookware is heavy and can be pricey, so make sure the one you get is ideal for your cooking—not too big, not too small. Here are three tips to help you choose the best enameled cast-iron cookware for your kitchen.
You may automatically gravitate toward a Dutch oven or a casserole because so many of them are available, but the enameled cast-iron skillet has several advantages. First, it’s not as heavy as the other two pieces, so it’s easier to handle. Second, it’s shallower, which makes it much easier to work with and turn chops, chicken pieces, ground beef, and the like. Third, it doesn’t need any special care or have to be seasoned, as does standard cast iron, and, you can make anything from pan pizza to cornbread in it. If you do a lot of frying or sautéing, don’t need a heavy lid, and don’t want excess weight, the enameled cast-iron skillet is a terrific choice. Look for one that’s safe to use with metal utensils so you can use it with whatever you have on hand in your kitchen.
An enameled cast-iron casserole dish is a one-pot wonder. You can fry, sauté, braise, bake, or oven-roast with one. You can prepare a meal in advance in a casserole dish and put it in the refrigerator until you’re ready to cook. When you take it off of the stove or out of the oven, it’s an ideal serving dish—deep enough to hold plenty of food, shallow enough to allow everyone at the table to reach what’s inside. Leftovers? Put the casserole right in the fridge.
The thick walls and heavy, tight-fitting lid make a Dutch oven an oven in itself. Add in a non-stick surface and you have a utensil that is ideal for low and slow cooking. Anything from pot roast to a leg of lamb to a whole chicken turns out fork-tender, and dishes like soup and chili can keep warm on the stove for hour after hour without losing quality, and often, adding to it. They’re heavy, but if you want to take the fullest advantage of enameled cast-iron cooking, go with a Dutch oven.