My Cast Iron Collection – And how I use each piece

I’ve been told I own a lot of cast iron cookware. Well, I’m not going to deny it, I do! But I also use EVERY SINGLE piece that I own. There is none sitting at the back of a cupboard unused and unloved, instead, I have a collection of pieces that are well-loved, cared for, and used often. In my store, I talk to people every day about cooking and I find many of you are looking for different ways to use fewer items. So I thought I’d share my collection and (hopefully) a bit of inspo on how I use each piece. Let’s get started…

A bit of a backstory…

I’ve had a love affair with cast iron for nearly 20 years. My first piece was a red Le Creuset square grill (grillit). That piece is now nearly twenty years old. As yes it’s that speckle black and red pan above! It’s what I love about good quality cast iron cookware. It can (and does) last a lifetime, that is, provided you care for it and use it correctly. If you are new to all this, you can check out this cast iron cooking guide – it’s a great place to start.

So here’s my collection

16cm round casserole

A little pot for little amounts. This is the pan that is perfect for a two-person tuna bake. It’s the one that I use when there is someone sick in my family or a friend just needs dinner cooked for them. So far, it’s been returned to me every time – fingers crossed this continues. The Irishman also thinks it’s the perfect pan for his morning baked beans!

20cm round casserole

This is the pot that I use for boiling potatoes, small batch preserves, sauces, like a white sauce for lasagne, steaming vegetables, and baked puddings. It also makes the best steamed rice EVER!

22cm round casserole

One of my most used pots. It’s a great size for whipping a quick curry, this Bolognese recipe, a loaf of soda bread, or mid-week dinner.

A black cast iron pot with a loaf of baked soda bread in it. A small bowl of honey with a honey dipper sit beside.

24cm round casserole

The go-to and over the years I’ve found that having two of them suits our family style of cooking. My original 24cm Le Creuset blue French oven has actually been worn out from use – one of my greatest achievements! I have just replaced it with a cream version, although I still haven’t had the heart to get rid of the original. Mexican pulled chicken, a pot of soup like this Persian lamb shank soup or even a roast chicken can all be cooked in this baby!

I also have a 24cm white Staub French oven. Staub comes with a black interior enamel and, therefore can take slightly higher heat than Le Creuset’s cream interior. I tend to mainly use this pot and my old blue 24cm French oven for my sourdough baking.

a loaf of sourdough in a blue cast iron dutch oven

26 & 28cm round casseroles

Being a batch-cooking nut, I can easily have two large pots slow cooking on a Sunday for the week ahead. That’s where my 26cm and 28cm pots come into play. At well over 5 liters each, they each have the capacity to make large batches of Irish stew, cook a whole corned beef or, make the base for a casserole, like Tuna bake.

29cm oval casserole

For when it doesn’t quite fit in a round casserole (lamb shanks I’m looking at you!), it’s my trusty oval Dutch oven to the rescue. It’s also the perfect size for sealing two beef cheeks at a time, which is why I use it quite a bit for my beef cheek recipes like this slow cooked beef cheeks in red wine.

I also bake oval sourdough loaves in this beast, especially when I’m doing a cold start bake. It’s the perfect pot for it.

An oval French oven full of slow cooked beef cheeks in red wine with carrots and mushrooms.

30cm shallow casserole

My mid-week maiden. Anything you want to cook in one-ish pans (that need a decent surface area) through the week, this is your girl. Pasta boscaiola (or any pasta sauce really) risotto, even paella can be cooked in this beauty. I also like it for any saucy-type easy meals that don’t require a high heat to cook like a quick curry and even these bacon and cheese skillet rolls.

A white cast iron shallow casserole of fettuccine boscaiola finished with shallots, English spinach and parmesan.

20cm skillet

My baby skillet. For a long time, I baked bread in my 20cm skillet. These days I prefer to cook it in a Dutch oven, but for so long it did such a good job – It created such a beautiful crusty base on a loaf. Nowadays it gets used a lot for eggs. Scrambled eggs, omelets, fried eggs. Being seasoned cast iron (as opposed to enameled) it’s also the pan that gets taken when we head out to the dam for the day to make sausage sandwiches for lunch!

22cm skillet

The pan I use when I’m just cooking for one. It’s great for cooking some quick chicken thighs for lunches. It also makes the best-size pie/crumble pan. both my apple and blackberry crumble, and beef bourguignon pie are made in this skillet. It’s a perfect 4 portion dish for this kind of thing, and it’s nice that I can use it for other things besides frying.

The baked apple and blackberry crumble in a cast iron skillet topped with scoops of vanilla ice cream.

28cm skillet

Our most used skillet. Everything from a breakfast fry up to beef rissoles gets cooked in this pan. I couldn’t live without it.

26cm grillit / large rectangular grill

Our 26cm grillit has been loved and used so much, however since our little family has grown and we now have a teenager in the house, It’s become a little too small for three. Up until recently Os and I have always shared a steak, so it suited us perfectly. But all of a sudden, late last year, we outgrew our pan, so I upgraded to the Le Creuset large rectangular grill. It fits four steaks comfortably or a ton of vegetables. Because we have a thing for grilled veg salads like this curried chicken kebab salad or just plain grilled vegetables along with some chicken or grilled fish, it’s a pan that’s worth its weight.

So do I need all of this cookware?

No probably not! But do I use it? Hell yes! Firstly in my defence, our family business is a culinary and food store. So when I’m not blogging over here, you’ll find me with my shopkeeper’s hat on, talking about good food and how to cook it. I’ve accumulated A LOT of cookware over the years – one does need to know what they are talking about, doesn’t one?!

An average cook would ideally probably only need one or two cast iron pieces if they own other cookware like stainless steel saucepans. I however don’t and this is the cookware that I use day in and day out. If you are looking at adding to or even starting a cast iron cookware collection, this post on what size to buy is a great place to start.

Want to know more about cast iron cooking? Start here…

Happy cooking!


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