In Praise Of A Long Lost Cast Iron Pan

Author: Corinne  //  Category: Uncategorized

I’m a firm believer in “less is better” and when it comes to kitchen ware and gadgets (and since I work in small galleys with little storage alot of the time) so I tend to stick with the best pans I can get for the dollar and I use them all the time.  Sometimes, some pans fall through the cracks.  Even for those of us that concentrate on such things.

Too yucky out to BBQ and the NW spring weather has brought more than a few surprises this week.  I’m not gonna stand out in the rain (although I have done my share) to grill something.  Sooooo…I pulled out my Dad’s old cast iron pan and started dreaming up what I could/would/should make.  Hmmmm.  It all started with the best damned Beef Tenderloin Burger.  Crispy crust on the outside, moist meat on the inside, and oh such perfect consistency throughout.  I moved on to make crispy sweet potato fries in the pan too.  The best consistency of those fries ever!!  This is what happens in a cast iron pan.

The reasons for using cast iron are many.  In today’s fat conscious world, a well seasoned cast iron pan needs little or no oil or liquid.  Cut the fat!!  The pan heats evenly and quickly so you save on energy.  It’s dark and porous so it absorbs more heat and conducts it evenly to heat your food throughout (hence the cooked through burger).  Sorry grill, even you can’t do that.  The pan I have was my Dad’s and is probably as old as the hills with no wear and tear.  It just gets better every time you use one and season it a little more.  To top it all off, I have some VERY expensive pans that I use and love, but this one probably cost my Dad less than a dollar back in the day.  I think for a good quality cast iron pan today you’d be pleasantly surprised at how inexpensive they are.  You might even find one at a flea market (I’m off this weekend to look for a teeny tiny one to do eggs in).  The best thing is that you can do a multitude of things in a cast iron pan.  You can fry, bake, saute, campfire cook,griddle and you can use it on more than one type of heat surface.  The possibilities are endless.

To that end I thought a few good recipes for a cast iron pan would fit just right…until BBQ season anyway.  I’m thinking of doing Easter Ham with Red Eye Gravy and then some Pineapple Upside Down Cake in mine.

Country Ham and Orange Red-Eyed Gravy

Ingredients

  • 1 (3-pound) country ham, store bought
  • 3 tablespoons fat from the ham
  • 1/2 cup coffee
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 1/2 cup Orange marmalade

 

Directions

Heat a cast iron dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the ham  and pan-fry until golden brown on the bottom. Cover and cook on low heat for 20 minutes to render the fat from the ham.  Remove the ham from the pan and set aside on a plate and keep warm. To the pan, add the coffee and water and stir with a wooden spoon, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the butter, orange marmalade and the beef stock and stir.  Serve the gravy over the ham.

Buttermilk Pineapple Skillet Cake

Butter Layer Cake:

  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • Pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 1 cup  buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 (20-ounce) can pineapple, drained and juice reserved (can use pineapple rings or pineapple chunks)
  • Chopped nuts, optional

Heat grill to 350 degrees F.

Place a 10-inch cast iron skillet in the center of the grill and heat thoroughly.

Make the cake batter: Sift the cake flour, baking powder, and salt together; set aside. With a mixer, cream together the butter, sugar, and egg yolks. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients to creamed mixture, alternating with the buttermilk. Add vanilla extract. In a separate mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form and then fold them into the batter. Set batter aside.

Place the 1/2 stick butter and the brown sugar in the skillet and let the mixture melt and begin to caramelize. When lightly caramelized, place pineapples and enough cherries to cover on top, in a decorative pattern. Then pour the cake batter over, filling to within 1/2-inch of the top of the skillet. Transfer the skillet to a large foil pan and cover with foil; be careful handling the skillet as the handle will also be very hot. Return to the grill and pierce the foil in the corners to allow steam to escape during the cooking process.

Grill cake at 350 degrees F until cake is golden brown and springs back when lightly touched with your finger, about 45 minutes. Remove from the grill and run a knife around the edge of the skillet to free the cake; again, be careful handling the skillet as the handle will also be very hot. While cake is still hot, place a serving plate on top of the skillet and carefully turn the cake over onto the plate. Serve warm with good ole vanilla bean ice cream or whipped cream.

3 Responses to “In Praise Of A Long Lost Cast Iron Pan”

  1. Corinne Says:

    Let me know what you would like to know and I ma hppy to oblige. More information on Cast Iron? Or cooking in general.

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