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Cast Iron

Cast Iron cookware plays a big part in my kitchen at home and what I really love about it is the versatility it offers. You can deep fry, sear, sauté, bake, braise and more all with a single pan, and at a much lower price that most kitchen gear. Well maintained cast iron is basically indestructible and can last you a lifetime with the proper care and respect and it also gets better and better with age so finding vintage, antique or hand me down cast iron can be a really great money saving option. My ever growing personal collection of cast iron is made up of about 60% vintage finds (mostly Wagner) and 40% new pre-seasoned pots and pans etc. (mostly Lodge).

The many benefits of cast iron are well documented and much deserved. It really is a cheaper, healthier and longer lasting option in the kitchen as you may have heard, but does have its own learning curve to master. The weight and heat retention of a cast iron pan, for example, are both very different than that of an aluminum or stainless steel pan and you have to account for that when you are cooking with it. It does not take much practice to get a good feel for the basic cooking differences once you get started, but it will take some time, so it is best to start off with something simple like fried eggs or sautéed onions then work your way into more complicated dishes if you are new to it. Well-seasoned cast iron is also naturally non-stick (as opposed to Teflon or other forms of non-stick coated pans) and will require less oil for cooking, making it healthier to cook with.

The big drawback of cast iron cookware is the damage that can arise from exposure to soaps, degreasers and water, but all of those issues are easily avoided if you simply research proper cleaning and care techniques. Lodge is a widely available, inexpensive, high quality brand that produces new pre-seasoned cast iron cookware and has a great web page for basic maintenance of cast iron, which is a great place to start.

Cast Iron Brussel Sprouts – Early Fall Food

This dish is something I have been refining for the past several years and it involves an acquired cooking technique that I think can only truly be achieved with a cast iron pan. If you have (or can find) a well-seasoned cast iron pan for this, the real trick is to get the pan superhot at the beginning of the recipe and sear and caramelize the sprouts without cooking them through so you get a nice char on the outside and a fresh crunch in the middle, which may or may not set off your smoke alarm. Best made in the early fall when fresh still on the stalk Brussel sprouts are at their peak. Pairs well with a baked or boiled potato.

You will need:

  • Brussel Sprouts (Fresh off the stalk is best, cleaned and cut in half lengthwise.)
  • Sweet Yellow Onion (cut into thin Julian)
  • Shallots (cut into thin Julian)
  • Garlic (German Hard is best, roughly minced)
  • Smoked Sausage (Cut into bite sized chunks)
  • Fresh Parsley (Stems removed and finely chopped)
  • 1/2 Stick Butter (Less if desired)
  • Olive oil
  • HOT Hungarian Paprika (to taste)
  • Salt/Pepper to taste

Heat up the cast iron pan on high heat until it begins to smoke, once hot add in about a quarter stick of butter, and a splash of olive oil. Once the butter has melted add in the Brussel sprouts and sauté without stirring until they start to turn dark golden brown (but not black) then toss and repeat the process once more. The outside edges of the sprouts should have a nice, thick caramelized layer but not be cooked completely through to the middle. Remove the Sprouts from the pan and set aside.
Reduce the heat to medium/high and return the now empty pan to the stove. Add another splash of olive oil and the remainder of the butter, once melted add in the onion, shallot and garlic and sauté until they start to soften and color (5-8 min), then add in the sausage and cook until it just begins to brown. Add in the parsley, salt/pepper and HOT Hungarian paprika to taste and mix well. Add in the seared sprouts, toss quickly and serve.


J.Nevadomski is an accomplished musician, artist, art director and gallery curator from Rochester NY. He has recorded with musicians from all over the world for his project “The Fragile Path” and is a veteran artist whose paintings have been featured in galleries, newspapers and exhibitions throughout Western NY. In 2012 he was the “artist guest of honor” at RocCon: Rochester’s Anime, Sci-Fi and comic book convention. He is on the board of directors for Flower City Comic Con (FC3) serving as art director, is the resident curator for the art gallery at Bread & Water Theatre. He lives in the Park Ave area of Rochester, keeps a yearly urban vegetable garden and regularly cooks and hosts dinner parties for friends and colleagues. 

This article originally published by The Rochester Insomniac Magazine, Updated October 2018.

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