HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >

Discussion

What are some of your favorite Easy Cast Iron Recipies for a new pan?

  • 42
  • Share

Hi! New to Chowhound here. I've been lurking for a few days and I just decided to create an account. Great site!

I just got some new cast iron cookware, a 12 inch skillet and dutch oven from Lodge. I seasoned them after reading a wealth of contradicting information and ultimately followed some directions that I found here and they turned out really good.

So, now that I have some new cookware, I am looking for some easy stuff to cook in them. I am going to fry up some bacon tonight to help with the seasoning some more.

What are your favorite things to cook with cast iron?

Thanks,
D

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
Posting Guidelines | FAQs | Feedback
Cancel
  1. Fry things in oil. Anything. Chicken, chicken cutlets, fish, bacon, sausages, peppers, even onion rings can be done in a cast iron skillet. Do it a few times, and you will not have any problems.

    There is a big debate on these boards about how to clean them. The two camps are: 1) use only salt and water, wipe the pan down, and 2) go ahead and use light soap and water.

    I fall into the s&w category, because even a quick wash with a mild dishwashing liquid (NOT a Brillo pad) will remove food residue and leave sufficient seasoning on the pan. If it seems to be bare, just rub oil on it again or fry something else next time. I'd put my seasoned pan up against anyone else's, and I really like that last night's fish remains are not affecting the flavor of my bacon and eggs, but that is me.

    BTW, how to clean a cast iron pan is a religious issue around here :)

    The most important thing is to dry it quickly and not let it rust. Also, allegedly they can crack if placed in water when hot, so get used to the fact that it may take 30 minutes to cool down before you can wash it out.

    1 Reply
    1. re: RGC1982

      Washing in HOT water should not be a problem....Never cracked one in 50 years...

    2. I agree with RGC's advice, for a new CI pan. Either fry or saute in oil, to get that nice seasoning built up. So...RGC's ideas, and you could also do things like veal or turkey cutlets, if you like those, or for a nice side dish, corn (niblets) sauteed in olive oil will get a nice caramelization on them in a hot CI pan. You can add a diced accent like the bell peppers RGC mentioned, or jalapeno if you like a little heat, or diced fennel bulb is nice with corn. What sounds good to me *right now* is a nice grilled cheese with a good quality baked ham and a little hot dijon mustard between the melted cheese and the ham. :-)

      I personally would wait until you get a good seasoning built up in before I baked something like corn bread in it.

      And, JMO, but I am also in the hot water and mild dish liquid soap camp when it comes to cleaning. I rinse the pans well and dry them well right away and I've never had a problem with it.

      5 Replies
      1. re: Normandie

        Put some oil in the bottom of the skillet...Swirl a little up on the sides...Set it on an eye of your stove until it just starts to smoke...Pour in your cornbread batter...Makes great cornbread, plus it will add a thin layer of seasoning...

        Enjoy!

        1. re: Uncle Bob

          Uncle Bob, I LOVE corn bread baked in a CI skillet. I just think the stuff can be nasty getting out of there *before* the skillet has been well seasoned with a good number of uses. It's not really an issue for me now, since my skillets are getting a little long in the tooth (meaning: well seasoned enough so that if they were bigger, I could probably ice skate ;-) on them), but just want to double-check--you think cornbread will turn out of them all right even when they're new as long as you put enough oil in? (Just asking because I never found the manufacturer's "pre-seasoning" to be worth a darn...I just put up with things until I had used them enough to make them...heavenly.) :-)

          1. re: Normandie

            "you think cornbread will turn out of them all right even when they're new as long as you put enough oil in"?
            ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
            Never tried cooking cornbread in a brand spanking new skillet that wasn't seasoned Normandie....My guess would be, probably not..Especially new raw iron...However the OP's skillets have been through an initial seasoning process ---. So Cooking cornbread to aid in additional seasoning certainly qualifies as both easy and something I like to cook in CI...thus my recommendation to the OP...On a lark I recently, within the past 3 or 4 months, picked up new 6in Lodge Logic..I brought it home and put it through the seasoning process...twice back to back. Started cooking cornbread in it..I've had no problem with the bread sticking...turns out perfectly. Twice now on Saturday morning I've fried 2 eggs in it...Again no problem with sticking, and it flips eggs amazingly easy...Is it WELL seasoned, smoother than a baby's butt, or slick enough to ice skate on?? Obviously not, but the little pan is very usable, and makes just enough bread for the two of us to clean up with no left overs. The "trick" (if you can call it that) of heating the skillet & oil to smoking hot on the stove prior to pouring in the batter was taught to me at a young age by a Creole lady of color who was my family's cook...How long to leave it on the stove after pouring the batter in before putting the bread in the oven?? She said long enough to walk over to the sink, and wash the bowl out! :).. It has always worked perfectly for me..

            Have Fun & Enjoy!!!

            1. re: Uncle Bob

              :-D Everybody certainly benefits from having someone like that in their life to teach them how to cook. There were many excellent cooks in my family, from my grandparents down to my older brothers, and fortunately I knew enough to get some of their special recipes...but I was too concerned with socializing as a teenager to stand by their sides and *see* how to cook. So once I got married I stumbled through things as best I could on my own. Fortunately, I *generally* don't make the same mistake twice, with the one exception that too many pricey (sp) cuts of nice meats weren't done justice because it took me too long to have the epiphany that meat needs to rest before serving or cutting.

              I was glad to hear your comments on the six-inch skillet. I've been debating for months about getting one. Not that it's a particularly big investment, and it certainly wouldn't take much storage space, but I don't like to have too much "stuff" in my kitchen. OTOH, every now and then you buy something, and you never really realize until you have it how many things you can actually do with it.

              1. re: Normandie

                Indeed! Like you, at a young age I was too busy being a boy...ripping and romping all over the farm by bicycle, tractor or horseback...following the men around etc. I learned a lot about outdoor cooking from them...BBQing over wood coals, Cooking River catfish in a big wash pot. etc --- It was not until my late teens and following years that I began to take an interest in what Bertha and my mother were doing in the kitchen. So many of the "recipes," that were all in her head that I tried to put down paper are "coded" ~~ How much lard/shortening do you put in the biscuits?? She would hold out a thumb and forefinger to form a circle of sorts and say.."Oh, a piece about as big as a hen egg or so" :) Later, she worked for me until she passed away. She was like a mother to me...a great American, a great cook, and a great friend...I miss her.

                Fun!

      2. I grew up w/cast iron skillets and have one now and I have always, always used soap and water to clean them - then dry them and put 'em away. If they start to look a little dry, after you dry the pan put a few drops of oil in there, spread it around w/a paper towel or cloth napkin or something, and then put it away. They'll last forever.

        You can cook pretty much any damn thing you want in there, so long as you use a bit of oil - you can get *such* beautiful crust on things if you make sure to heat your oiled pan thoroughly before you put your protein in. Many people do stay away from cooking highly acidic things (like dishes w/tomatoes) in cast iron. I don't do acid in cast iron b/c I have other pans I prefer from a size perspective in most cases. Maybe someone else can weigh in on this - I think if you have a very well-seasoned pan it'll have less of an impact, but I might be mistaken.

        GG
        http://www.semisweetonline.com

        1. cornbread, pineapple upside-down cake.

          1. Congratulations, welcome to the world of cast iron! Many of the ideas already posted are great so I won't expand except to say that I use cast iron for lots of stuff, roasting chickens, making gumbo, braising, stew, soup, baking bread (intead of a pizza stone), toasting spices and frying, frying, frying.
            I'm in this cleaning camp (maybe camp #3): I use hot water and scrub with one of those green scrub pads, no soap ever. A good seasoning on the CI tends to prevent sticking, anyway. I used to do the salt and oil thing, but it's a bit messy. Pop your CI back on a burner, let it heat up until all the water evaporates, then coat it with a bit of oil, crisco or bacon fat. Using soap over time will diminish you seasoning.
            You can always re-season and there's plenty of info here at Chow. Here's a good link for even more:
            http://blackirondude.blogspot.com/

            If you maintain your CI with just a bit of extra care, it will give you a lifetime of cooking happiness.

            2 Replies
            1. re: bushwickgirl

              Thanks for the replys everyone! BWG, are you talking about something like this? http://img59.imageshack.us/img59/4347...

              1. re: D Lincoln

                Sorry I took awhile to get back to you; yes, exactly those scrubbies, they're cheap and do the job and you won't feel bad about tossing them when the time is right. I should clarify that, when I say "scrubbing", I mean removing any food particles that may have stuck, but with a good seasoning, there may be none. I do it (scrub) as a matter of habit, rather than necessity.

            2. Paraphrased Cook's Illustrated recipe:

              SOUTHERN-STYLE CORNBREAD

              Makes one 8-inch skillet of bread. Published in Cook's Illustrated May 1, 1998.

              INGREDIENTS

              4 teaspoons bacon drippings or 1 tablespoon melted butter and 1 teaspoon vegetable oil

              1 cup yellow cornmeal, preferably stone ground (divided use 1/3 cup & 2/3 cup)

              2 teaspoons granulated sugar
              1/2 teaspoon table salt
              1 teaspoon baking powder
              1/4 teaspoon baking soda

              1/3 cup water (rapidly boiling)
              3/4 cup buttermilk
              1 large egg , beaten lightly

              INSTRUCTIONS

              Place an oven rack on lower middle shelf of oven. Now place an 8-inch cast-iron skillet, greased with 4 tsp bacon fat or 1 tsp vegetable oil and 1 Tbs melted butter on that rack.

              Start oven pre-heating to 450-F.

              In a medium bowl, measure out 1/3 cup of the cornmeal.

              In another smaller bowl mix the remaining 2/3 cup cornmeal, sugar, salt, baking power and baking soda and set aside until needed.

              Pour 1/3 cup of boiling water into the 1/3 cup of cornmeal and stir to form a stiff batter.
              Slowly whisk in buttermilk until batter is smooth, then whisk in the beaten egg.

              When the oven has reached 450-F and skillet is hot, stir the small bowl of dry ingredients
              into the larger bowl of moistened cornmeal batter.

              Remove hot skillet from oven. Pour heated bacon fat or butter from hot skillet
              into the bowl of batter and stir until mixed.

              Now quickly pour the bowl of batter into the hot skillet. Return skillet with batter to hot oven.

              Bake until cornbread is golden brown, about 20-minutes.

              Remove from oven and turn out cornbread onto wire rack. Cool 5 minutes then serve.

              5 Replies
              1. re: Antilope

                just tried it and it's great. one additions: crumbled up the bacon and added to the batter.

                thanks for posting.

                1. re: wonderwoman

                  Here's a slightly different -Paraphrased- Cook's Illustrated recipe:
                  This creates a sweeter cornbread with a fine texture.

                  SOUTHERN-STYLE CORNBREAD FOR NORTHERN TASTES

                  4 teaspoons bacon drippings or 1 tablespoon melted butter and 1 teaspoon vegetable oil

                  1 cup yellow cornmeal , preferably stone ground (divided use 1/3 cup & 2/3 cup)

                  3 tablespoons granulated sugar
                  1/2 teaspoon table salt
                  1 teaspoon baking powder
                  1/4 cup cake flour
                  1/4 teaspoon baking soda

                  1/3 cup water (rapidly boiling)
                  3/4 cup buttermilk
                  1 large egg , beaten lightly

                  INSTRUCTIONS

                  Place an oven rack on lower middle shelf of oven. Now place an 8-inch cast-iron skillet, greased with 4 tsp bacon fat or 1 tsp vegetable oil and 1 Tbs melted butter on that rack.

                  Start oven pre-heating to 450-F.

                  In a medium bowl, measure out 1/3 cup of the cornmeal.

                  In another smaller bowl mix the remaining 2/3 cup cornmeal, sugar, salt, baking powder, cake flour and baking soda and set aside until needed.

                  Pour 1/3 cup of boiling water into the 1/3 cup of cornmeal and stir to form a stiff batter.
                  Slowly whisk in buttermilk until batter is smooth, then whisk in the beaten egg.

                  When the oven has reached 450-F and skillet is hot, stir the small bowl of dry ingredients into the larger bowl of moistened cornmeal batter.

                  Remove hot skillet from oven. Pour heated bacon fat or butter from hot skillet
                  into the bowl of batter and stir until mixed.

                  Now quickly pour the bowl of batter into the hot skillet. Return skillet with batter to hot oven.

                  Bake until cornbread is golden brown, about 20-minutes.

                  Remove from oven and turn out cornbread onto wire rack. Cool 5 minutes then serve.

                  1. re: wonderwoman

                    I'm trying Antilope's flourless version right now to go with our Chipotle Chili tonight! Will post results...I DESPISE sweet, cake-like cornbread so I'm sure it will be very good...I'm using Bob's coarse ground yellow cornmeal.

                    1. re: Val

                      Well, it's very good tasting, dense and moist however...there ARE bits of still-somewhat-crunchy cornmeal within the bread...is it supposed to be that way? I did the 1/3 cup of cornmeal soaked in boiling water step...could my Bob's Red Mill Coarse Grind be TOO coarse? We'll eat it...it's just a little odd for it to be, well, crunchy/gritty. Thanks for any advice you can give, Antilope or anyone else who uses the coarse grind corn for their cornbread!

                  2. re: Antilope

                    v. excited to try this cornbread recipe! I'm dieting and my regular recipe (back of the indian head cornmeal packet) with the flour is pushed to the wayside.

                    Also, dutch baby pancakes and with my regime, clafoutis, are made in my cast iron skillet.

                  3. Fried eggs in butter.

                    1. Roasted veggies. I personally am going to roast another butternut squash tonight, chopped into cubes and tossed with chopped garlic, rosemary, S&P, and olive oil in my 12" skillet.

                      As for washing, I put a little water in the pan immediately after removing the food to loosen up any hard bits. Then I wash with water and periodically a bit of soap. I dry it on the stove top, adding a little oil if I really had to scrub the pan.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: tcamp

                        I picked up a butternut squash the other day, not quite sure what I wanted to do with it. I think I'll go with this preparation. It sounds so simple but great!

                      2. Something that is really easy and truly excellent to cook in a castiron skillet is steak, my favorite is ribeye. If you like your steak cooked more than rare, begin by preheating your oven to 350 degrees. Next place your castiron skillet on the hottest burner of your stove and heat to smokin' hot. While the skillet is heating, lightly oil your steak(s) and season with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper. When the skillet is smokin' hot drop those steaks in and carmelize them on each side, probably 2-3or4 minutes on each side. If you like your steak rare, it's ready to eat. If you like a bit more welldone, pop it into the pre-heated oven, skillet and all, until you're happy.

                        1. I made a simple apple tart tonight in a new skillet that I've only used once previously, and it turned out nicely, so I thought of passing it along to you. Mine is a nine-inch skillet, but I see no reason one couldn't do it in a 12-inch.

                          I used one sheet of store-bought frozen puff pastry and laid that into the skillet, after buttering the skillet cooking surface well. I cut up three apples (two Granny Smiths and one....gee, I can't remember the variety now, but a sweeter baking apple), tossed them in a bowl with a little lemon juice, pinch of salt, approximately 1/4-cup granulated sugar, a tablespoonful of maple syrup, a teaspoonful of cinnamon, a pinch of ginger, a grating of fresh nutmeg (small amount), about a tablespoonful of orange marmalade, heated gently and thinned with a tiny bit of water (you could certainly use a different type preserve if you prefer) and a splash of brandy, and tossed that all together. After topping the pastry dough with the apple mixture, I tossed a scant handful of chopped walnuts on top of the fruit, put a couple of dabs of butter around the mixture and sprinkled another small (very small) amount of granulated sugar on top of the whole thing. Because it was a nine-inch skillet and the dough sheet was square, I simply folded the pastry corners in back on top of the filling, then baked at 400 F for about twenty minutes (but that was on convection bake; might take longer in a conventional oven). I think it would also be good with plums or pears in the fall.

                          Anyway, fairly rustic, nothing ornate, but satisfying after a simple dinner of vegetable soup and broiled open-faced tomato sandwiches and a quick simple thing during apple season that gives you an excuse to put a coating of butter on the pan--should help with the seasoning. And very easy.

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: Normandie

                            Oh Normandie, that sounds so delicious - and I am realizing now that I never use my pan for sweets (well, pancakes are sweet I guess) - but not for baking. My family would love this and I love that it's open to myriad improvisations!

                            GG
                            http://www.semisweetonline.com

                            1. re: gansu girl

                              The thing of it, gansu, is that it took me less time to put it together than it did to type out the explanation :-). I don't have puff pastry around here very often at all (though I love it), because of its extreme fat content. However, the fat content is the very reason it was a good thing to use in a new, not tremendously-seasoned-yet pan. When I get that baby better broken-in, I'll probably use phyllo for something like this instead. Easier to control the saturated fat. But for a treat now and then... Or if someone shows up suddenly and you want to offer a cup of coffee and a treat, it's quick.

                              Is that your site you've linked to, btw? It looks great. I want to look it over when I have more time online.

                              1. re: Normandie

                                I know, puff pastry is not a friend of my thighs, but it *is* damn good once in a while! And like you said, that recipe's dead easy. I'm definitely going to give it a whirl, esp. since I now have 10 lbs. of CSA-share apples in my fridge!

                                And yes, that's my site - thanks! Please do check it out and let me know what you think!

                                GG
                                http://www.semisweetonline.com

                                1. re: gansu girl

                                  Oh, you definitely have to force yourself to eat the puff pastry then, so those apples won't go to waste! ;-) I love fall produce--well, from August into the fall, I'd say...plums, pumpkins, all these glorious apples, cranberries...the pomegranates are in, too. I'm in my glory.

                                  I'm having birthday "goodies" and coffee on Saturday for my stepson-in-law and for my stepson's fiancee. I don't want to do a traditional birthday cake; I want to do a little buffet of sweets instead, because their tastes are different and I want to make sure they each feel spoiled...that I made their favorites for them. Plus, I wanted to offer at least a couple of things that offered some nutritional value. One of them loves pumpkin pie, and I've got a tray of the most beautiful little sugar pumpkins sitting on my kitchen island. So I was looking at the pumpkin chocolate chip squares recipe on your site. Have you made those?

                                  1. re: Normandie

                                    Oh yes, many times - unless I say otherwise, everything on the site is stuff I have made or make all the time. Those pumpkin squares are easy and have always been a hit, although I'll confess that I've never made them w/fresh pumpkin - always w/canned puree. Like I say there, you can increase the nutritional value by using whole wheat pastry flour for all/part of the flour called for. If you try them, let me know what you think!

                                    For anyone else reading this exchange, here's the link to the recipe: http://www.semisweetonline.com/2009/1...

                                    Cheers!

                                    GG
                                    http://www.semisweetonline.com

                                    1. re: gansu girl

                                      Thank you; I'm glad to know that you've tried the recipe. (And yes, I often do sneak in at least a little bit of whole wheat flour. Sometimes, if it's meant to be a more delicate recipe, not much, but I figure any little nutritional boost is better than none.)

                                      If I don't make these for Saturday, I do plan to make them sometime during the holiday season, and I'll be sure to let you know how they turned out.

                          2. I sort of skimmed the reply's and I did not see the best thing to cook in cast iron. I hope that you are not a vege...BACON and more BACON! Enjoy!

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Sam at Novas

                              I made bacon and shredded brussel sprouts in mine last night! Very tasty.

                              1. re: megmosa

                                Sounds good to me!

                            2. I have two wonderful cast irons, one 12 inch, one an enormous 20 inch I use to roast a chicken, with vegetables. I've never used soap once. I love to use Coarse Sea Salt to clean. Sprinkle it all over the pan, ideally when still just a bit warm, and use a paper towel or hand towel to create a scrub with the salt. Use a little bit of water at the end. And be sure to wipe the towel with a little oil to keep it from rusting.

                              Everyone has ideas I would have suggested... bacon and eggs, steaks, chicken ann cornbread are all so good, especially to start. Have fun with it! Just be sure to always do that final oil wipe when you are finished cleaning it. Never leave a lot of oil... I put a glug of oil, as Jamie Oliver says, wipe it all around the pan and sides, then wipe it clean. It should be just moist with the oil.

                              1. The only thing I even keep a cast-iron skillet for is German Apple Pancake, delicious and dramatic. 1) Turn oven on and set to 425*. 2) In an 8-inch iron skillet melt 3/4 stick butter and 3/4 cup brown sugar. Add 1 tsp cinnamon and 4 apples peeled and sliced. Cook 3-4 minutes, stirring. The apples should be about half-done but still in intact slices. Remove from burner. 3) Beat 3 large eggs until light then beat in 1/3 cup sugar, grated rind of a lemon (optional), 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp baking powder, 3/4 cup flour, and 3/4 cup milk. Pour over apples in skillet and bake 20-25 minutes @ 425* (don't' let it sit around---put it in the oven promptly as rising depends mostly on the air you've beaten into the eggs). It is ready when it's very brown and puffed. You can turn the whole thing out like an upside-down cake or just cut it in 6 wedges and serve from the pan. Any leftover pieces freeze well.

                                1. I like to cook beer can chickens on my gas grill. After the dripping chicken fat flamed up and make the skin inedible I began using my cast iron skillets. I spray the skillet with Pam, set the can onto the skillet, spray the outside surface of the can. Set the skillet onto the grill and set the chicken onto the can and cook at 400-500F.

                                  We keep two plastic scrapers like these by the sink. They're great for scraping food residue off of cast iron or most any other cookware.
                                  http://www.amazon.com/Progressive-Man...

                                  1. Baking cornbread and biscuits, browning meat, frying almost anything. I personally don't do fried chicken type frying, but I find the iron skillets I own very useful, nevertheless. I use them in the oven as much as I do on the stove. The Dutch oven is useful for pot roasting and braising, and stewing, although you will find them heavy. If you start with a preheat on med. you can get beautiful browning before the braise. Enjoy.

                                    1. Your skillet is probably well-seasoned by now, but for the benefit of anyone else who comes along -- hubby and I make grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch all the time, and they have really given our CI griddle a beautiful finish. Eat them weekly for a while and you'll have that shine down in no time, with very little effort.

                                      1. Frying chicken in my new skillet a few times really worked for me. High heat, oil, well seasoned chicken.

                                        1. Use it to brown meat. Or pancakes with oil in the batter.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: darylstewart

                                            No need for oil in the batter if you put a nice pat of butter in the pan! Crispy edges, buttery taste . . . . good thing I just ate or I'd be pulling out the pan now.

                                            GG
                                            http://www.semisweetonline.com

                                          2. Nothing like frying up a lot of bacon to get it started.