It may be the most versatile pan around, yet it’s hundreds of years old and comes in one color: the cast-iron piece de resistance. For generations of cooks, the pan has been passed along from kitchen to kitchen as an heirloom.
Among the fans of the heavy-duty pan is Ross Sveback of Afton, Minn., a lifestyle promoter and the state’s answer to Martha Stewart. (“I’m the inappropriate Martha. There are no rules in my world. I don’t say you can only serve this with that. You forge your own road,” he noted in a phone interview.) When he’s not on TV, or at the Mall of America doling out pointers for entertaining or everyday living, he’s likely to be found in the kitchen.
Sveback himself has a cupboard full of cast-iron cookware. One of his recipes appears in the new book, “Lodge Cast Iron Nation,” edited by Pam Hoenig. The only company that still makes its cast-iron cookware in the United States is Lodge Manufacturing of South Pittsburg, Tenn., which opened in 1896.
Whether the cookware is used to fry chicken, bake cornbread, roast Brussels sprouts or sear steak, the pans add a special sizzle to cooking. Sveback tells us how he uses this versatile pan: on the stove, in the oven, on the grill or campfire. And at the table, where the dish can be presented direct from the heat.