My friend Megan recently texted me this picture and asked, “Is this ok for a makeshift lid? Or am I going to burn down my house?” Great question!
There are many times when a lid comes in handy or is even necessary for a certain cooking method. Fortunately, cast-iron manufacturers do make matching lids, and they can often be used interchangeably. But first, let’s answer Megan’s question.
Can a sheet pan be used as a lid on the stove? Absolutely! And it’s even preferred in some situations, such as when making my favorite winter-time lunch: a Grown-Up Grilled Ham and Cheese sandwich (see the super-easy recipe in Modern Cast Iron). The lightweight cover of the sheet pan keeps heat in, allowing you to melt the cheese inside. If you use a small sheet pan that leaves space open on the sides, it will also allow moisture to escape, keeping your sandwich from getting soggy. I’ve never used a sheet-pan lid in the oven, but you certainly could.
Tempered glass lids are useful for the same reason, but they trap in more moisture than a sheet pan, which makes them perfect for sautéing veggies or making spaghetti. Since they’re clear, they also let you see your food cooking. Before putting a tempered glass lid in the oven, though, check with the manufacturer to make sure it’s oven safe.
Cast-iron lids trap in moisture as well as heat, turning your pan or pot into a natural pressure cooker. Some manufacturers like Lodge and Staub have added textures like tiny spikes on the inside of their lids to encourage self-basting. Cast-iron lids are ideal for dishes like stews, soups, and pot roasts. The lid’s handle is usually riveted on and made of stainless steel, but some manufacturers may still use heat-resistant plastic. Before you stick the lid in the oven, check with the manufacturer’s specs to determine the maximum heat allowed.
If you’re in a pinch, you can use a sheet pan like Megan did or a glass lid from another set of cookware. Or you can even place a larger griddle over the top of your cast-iron pan. I know that sounds weird, but some companies like Lodge make what they call a “combo cooker,” which is essentially a pot with a skillet used as the lid. Just make sure you’re being careful with whatever makeshift lid you use so it doesn’t fall off or burn you.
If you’d like to purchase a matching lid, check with the manufacturer of your cast-iron pan or pot. Many of them make matching lids out of tempered glass and cast iron. If the pan is old and the manufacturer is no longer in business, try a lid from a different company. I have a lid for a 10” deep-dish skillet, and I’m able to use it on all my 10” skillets, regardless of the brand. One exception may be the thinner cast iron that some artisanal companies are now making. I would imagine the thinner side walls would require a slightly different pattern for their lids, so they may not fit well on other brands.
Tell me a little about your cast iron. Do you use a glass or cast-iron lid? Have you tried the sheet pan trick? Leave a comment below.
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