Folks have asked us for some simple best practices when cooking with cast iron and one of the most important areas to focus on is improving cooking control. Typically, this involves a discussion around heat application, proper seasoning, and oil. While these aspects are quite important, in this post, let’s discuss another element to consider for improving control.
Introducing a lid adds control to your cast iron cooking
Every dish you prepare requires some degree of moisture and heat control to achieve the desired level of texture, doneness and concentrated flavor. Not to mention, sometimes it’s about controlling how much food stays in the pan vs. splattered on the stovetop and walls.
Not every dish requires a lid for preparation, of course, but the real advantage of having one is to give you more options to use cast iron when recipes require precise control of the heat and moisture content. A cast iron lid allows you to lower the heat of the burners while maintaining the desired moisture level and temperature for the ideal cooking process. For example, sauces do not reduce when a lid is on tight, and this important. Let’s say you’re simmering a savory pasta sauce—these typically need more simmering time so vegetables soften and spices release their essence to concentrate the flavors of the dish. You don’t want a reduction in the moisture content of the sauce or scorching to occur during these flavoring moments. This is where a lid becomes your best friend for precise control. Typically, one would simmer sauces with the lid on tight, under low heat until the desired doneness of vegetables and spice essence. Then, finish the sauce by tilting the lid to release moisture and reduce to achieve desired thickness and consistency for serving the sauce. This method results in complex but delicious flavor with an appropriate texture to adhere to plates of pasta, meats, and vegetables.
On the other hand, using a lid to concentrate the heat but release the right amount of moisture allows you to cook food faster. For example, a lid that is perhaps tilted or angled on the pan allows for more concentrated heat, while still enabling you to control the moisture content so food doesn’t obtain a soggy result. A great example here is when preparing salmon steaks. Depending on your desired texture, like a golden sear on both sides—which is the absolute best—you’ll want to cook sufficiently in the center, so you’re not eating sushi. Using the lid allows you to concentrate the heat to cook salmon thoroughly while achieving that crisp golden sear on each side.
When the lid is necessary for controlling stovetop to oven cooking
As you know cast iron has a superior advantage because it easily goes from stovetop to oven without issue. This is ideal for braising meats like short ribs, or lamb. Achieve that perfect brown sear first on the stovetop, then introduce liquids and your mirepoix, cover with a lid and slow cook in the oven. It’s simply the best, and you need a lid to control the result.
Again, with the lid, it’s all about control. With the even heating that cast iron cookware provides, adding a lid gives you more cast iron cooking options and improves cooking precision so you can continue to prepare the very best dishes for your friends and family.
There’s a big advantage with the octagonal FINEX cast iron lid
Traditional cast iron pans have pour spouts that leave significant gaps when covered with a lid, which doesn’t allow you to control heat and lock in moisture precisely. So you’re left without a cast iron option for steaming, braising or other controlled cooking methods.
With FINEX we intentionally designed our pans with the proprietary octagonal design to give you six pour spouts, and the pour spouts do not extend beyond the desired walls of the pan. At the same time, our lid matches the design perfectly, so the result is a snug fit to the entire pan without the gaps that would release significant heat and moisture. The result is the right amount heat and maximum moisture that produces exceptional flavor and texture when steaming, simmering and braising.
On the other hand, when recipes require concentrated heat with moisture release for quick, but thorough cooking, our octagonal cast iron lid design lets you easily create six steam vents for a controlled moisture release that’s much more intentional and even. Just rotate your lid a bit and evenly release the moisture, the more you rotate, the more steam you release for precise control. You’ll keep your asparagus firm, your salmon sear perfectly crisp but done thoroughly, or your chicken breast golden brown but not pink in the middle.