By Jeff Rogers
Photography by Stephanie Steele
In a cupboard packed full of inky-black cast iron, bright enameled cast-iron pans stand out boldly, begging to be pulled out and used to prepare your favorite recipes. When choosing what pan I will cook in, there are always several pieces that will work, but often times there are ones that will work best. Choosing the right tool for the job is a crucial part of successful cooking. It’s a lesson I had to learn the hard way.
About 20 years ago, I was on a quest to create the ultimate chili recipe, and decided I needed to use a cast-iron Dutch oven. After hours of cooking, I took my first taste of what was supposed to be the best chili ever. The flavor was rock-solid, but something wasn’t right. After another bite, my taste buds reported back with more data—there was a subtle underlying metallic taste.
At the time I was perplexed, but I know now what I was tasting was a reaction between the acidic tomatoes and the cast iron. Who knew that you shouldn’t cook acidic foods in newly-seasoned cast iron? Not me, apparently. I had a great recipe, but with my Dutch oven being newly seasoned, I definitely had the wrong tool for the recipe at hand.
Enter enameled cast iron. More than 100 years ago, pioneering industrialists had the bright idea to remove many of the limitations of cooking in cast iron by coating it with a glassy, porcelain enameled finish. Along with being very colorful, this enameled coating makes cast iron more versatile in a few key ways, while introducing a few new limitations. Here’s a quick look at the good, the bad, and the tasty.
Wow. I appreciate the tip regarding temperature when cooking with enameled cast iron. I’ve always cranked up the heat and couldn’t figure out how not to burn the food. That’s why I am reading this website. Thank you!
So you would not recommend cooking a steak in the oven?
It depends on the cut, but we typically suggest cooking steaks in a cast-iron skillet!
What and how oven or top of stove for cooking with cast iron Dutch oven what temp to use , does it take longer or shorter cooking times ?
We suggest using medium heat when cooking with Dutch ovens. They work great on the stove top for making soups and jams, and are also wonderful for braising roasts and other meats in the oven!
This is a great post. I love enameled cast iron for cooking. It’s very helpful. Thanks for sharing this.
This info really helped me..I’ve used cast iron pans all my life. But now that I have health problems, keeping them seasoned is a challenge..love my enamel pans..
Hi Katherine! We’re glad that we could help and that you love enamel as much as we do. Let us know if you ever need any other tips or tricks.
This is a great post. great information it’s very helpful for me thanks for sharing keep posting.
What a wonderful informative post! I have used a French enameled dutch oven for years with great success – but the results with my new enameled skillet were a bit disappointing. Thanks to your great tips and comments I now know where I made mistakes. Your information should accompany all enameled cookware.