As you may know, we recently launched the Always Pan in an entirely new material: cast iron. For us, this is a Very Big Deal. It’s our first departure from the ceramic nonstick people know and love, and it opens up an entire world of cooking possibilities. (And, trust us, this world is delicious). Read on to find out what makes our cast iron so damn special and why we’re so excited to cook in it.
The original nonstick Always Pan taught us how to cook. Like many home-cooks before us, our learning started with an egg. Scrambled or fried (or fried accidentally turned into scrambled). From there, we simmered and stewed our way to being able to navigate our family recipes with ease and confidence. Cast iron marks the next step in our collective home-cook journey — a journey which, for the record, is never over. It enables us to turn up the heat (literally) and learn new techniques, take bigger chances, and reap yummier rewards.
But cast iron is about a whole lot more than leveling up your home-cooking game. It’s our first piece of cookware that, by nature of its material, has the potential to last generations. (Cast iron, in general, is extremely durable, and we sourced some of the best.) While cast iron has been around for literally thousands of years (talk about heirloom), nonstick pans first showed up in the United States in the 1960s — that’s pretty recent! While we love nonstick for its accessibility and easy clean-up (as did many when they first hit the market), we also know that, again, by nature of its material, no nonstick pan lasts forever.
The Our Place project has always been to help people connect with their heritages and facilitate gathering along the way. We believe in the beauty of passing down our traditions, our recipes, and now, our cookware. Yes, cast iron requires a touch more technique, care, and understanding than a nonstick pan (which is why we love to have both on hand), but we promise that if you love it well, it will love you back.
If you’ve made it this far, thank you for letting us nerd out over cooking materials and our traditions. We do genuinely believe that they are inextricably linked, but no matter the material, the best one for you is the one that’s going to help you perfect that family recipe for the first time and share it with someone you love.
Speaking of family recipes, we asked some home-cooks to share with us their favorite recipes to make in cast iron…
First up, we have newly-minted home-cook Vanessa Tan who shared with us her favorite dish to order from the cha chaan teng growing up, Cheesy Baked Pork Chops and Rice. Recreating meals from her childhood (and putting her own spin on them, of course) has turned Vanessa from someone who was put-off by cooking into a TikTok star helping others learn to love to cook, too.
Next, Anisha Chandra, who has always been fascinated by foods, flavors, and cooking, shared with us her Baingan Bharta recipe. The secret to this one? Making sure your eggplant gets a nice hot, grill-like sear. Hence, the cast iron Always Pan.
Then we met with recipe creator and bold flavor advocate Brandon Gouveia who shared with us his recipe for Pigeon Peas Cook Up Rice with Chicken. Taught to him by his grandma, Brandon learned early on that cast iron is key to creating rich flavors, especially when it comes to cooking meats. Trust us, you can learn a thing or two from him.
And of course we had to see what resident Our Place home-cook Shadaé William’s could do with our newest creation. Naturally, she knocked our socks off with a Rhubarb Tarte Tatin that utilized the pan on both the stovetop and in the oven. Shadaé is known for her curiosity-driven recipes that blend flavors in fascinating and delicious ways. So don’t be surprised when you see shallots on the ingredient list. That’s no mistake.
While cast iron often makes us think of searing meats, vegan home-cook Will Edmond shows off just how useful it is in building flavor with his Vegan Eggplant Parmesan. A spin on his grandma’s favorite dish, his recipe puts the cast iron’s exceptional heat retention powers to use in every step.