Cooking In Cast Iron
Have you inherited a great set of cast iron cookware, but only use it for cooking bacon, cobblers or cornbread? Today I am sharing my tips for Cooking In Cast Iron and some great recipes you may not have thought about making in your cast iron.
Cooking in Cast Iron may seem like a very old school of thought, reserved for our mothers and grandmothers. Today I am here to tell you its not just for the grannies anymore. Cast Iron cookware is truly a classic cooking style, a true culinary experience for anyone that has never actually used it. Not only can it sear meats perfectly, it also deep fries, and bakes from stove top to oven in a blink of an eye. Such a flexible kitchen piece to have, heck you can even use it on your grill outside as well.
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Cast iron does need to be seasoned properly, if you are lucky enough to have inherited a piece from a family member that was passed down over the generations, as mine have been, you will still want to maintain proper care. Make sure that your pans are oiled or seasoned regularly. Lodge makes a great 5 piece set which has a cleaning scrub brush, pan scraper and season spray to make this step super easy for you. Keep in mind to never marinate anything acidic in your cast iron, it will damage the seasoned coating. Then particles of food start to stick, rust appears, and you may start to experience a metallic taste in everything you cook.This tasty treat, that you can see me making above, is my Fajita Rice Skillet, but you can just as easily make a loaded queso dip, or a hot taco dip which are both perfect options for serving up in a fun cast iron serving dish. Just make sure that you use a trivet or hot mat to protect any of your delicate surfaces before you place the screaming hot cast iron on them.
Fajita Rice Skillet
- 1 lb Steak Cubed, Diced
- 2 medium Poblano Peppers Sliced
- 1 medium Red Onion Sliced
- 2 Limes
- 2 Roma Tomatoes
- 1 cup Jasmine Rice
- 2 tbsp Adobo Paste
- 2 tbsp Taco Seasoning
- 2 tbsp Butter
- 2 tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 bunch Cilantro fresh
- 1 pint Sour Cream
- 1 cup Nacho Taco Cheese
For Instant Pot combine rice, 1 1/2 cup water, and a pinch of salt cover and cook on Rice Setting is tender, 15-18 minutes. Keep covered on keep warm setting off heat until ready to stir in
In a small bowl, combine diced tomato, minced onion, zest and juice from half the lime; season with salt for pico topping.
Heat olive oil in cast iron pan over medium-high heat. Add poblano and onions, try to obtain a charr 7-9 minutes.
Add steak and taco seasoning. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes. Stir in adobo paste and ¼ cup water until combined. Bring to a simmer and cook until mixture is saucy and steak is cooked thoroughly, 1-2 minutes.
Stir rice with 1 TBSP butter, lime zest, and half the cilantro add to skillet and lightly mix. Top with cheese, veggies, pico, sour cream, and remaining cilantro.
I also love the rustic serving piece quality it lends to meals when you serve directly from the oven in the skillet. For example, my Zesty Mozzarella Spaghetti Bake seen below, has a very downhome but rustic serving feel. Which adds to the ambiance of any dining experience, even if it is just a simple weeknight family dinner, it should be special too. Not to mention the convenience factor of going straight from the oven to the table.
Zesty Mozzarella Spaghetti Bake
- 12 oz Pasta (Spaghetti, Ziti, or Penne) cooked al dente
- 1 medium Onion Diced
- 2 medium Zucchini Diced
- 28 oz Tomato or Marinara Sauce to save time you can also use my- Hearty Veggie Spaghetti Sauce recipe (link here)
- 8 oz Fresh Mozzarella Cheese Sliced
- 2 tbsp Italian Seasoning
- 2 cloved Garlic Minced
- 10 tbsp Tuscan Herb or Basil Olive Oil
- 1/2 cup Panko Breadcrumbs
- 1 cup Parmesan Cheese
- 1 lb Italian Sausage (optional) if you must have meat in it
While pasta cooks, heat a large drizzle of olive oil in cast iron pan. Add zucchini, onion, garlic, and Italian Seasoning. Cook, until just browned, 4-6 minutes, season with salt and pepper. (This is where you would add this meat if you going that route)
Add sauce, cooked pasta, and reserved 1/2 cup of pasta cooking water to pan with veggies; lightly stir to combine.
Stir in half the Parmesan, season with plenty of salt and pepper. Remove pan from heat.
In a small bowl, stir together panko, remaining Parmesan, and a drizzle of olive oil. Top pasta with disks of mozzarella slices, then top with the panko mixture.
Place Cast Iron pan on top rack of oven on Broil until panko is golden brown, sauce is bubbly, and cheese has melted,approximately 5-7 minutes. You will want to watch carefully to avoid burning. Serve directly from pan and drizzle with remaining basil oil.
Another one of our favorites that lends itself to cooking in cast iron is my Couscous Stuffed Peppers. Oh my goodness these are probably our favorite way to eat stuffed peppers now. I remember when we were first married, I would do the more traditional meatloaf based stuffed pepper, but now I am here to tell this is how you stuff a pepper people! Nothing else will really ever do once you have tried these, and impress your diners with the cast iron serving platter, it just adds to the show.
Couscous Stuffed Peppers
- 4 Large Green Bell Peppers
- 2 medium Onions, Vidalia Diced
- 2 cloved Garlic Minced
- 1 lb Lean Ground Beef
- 1 cup Israeli Couscous
- 1 1/2 cup Beef Stock
- 2 tbsp Butter
- 1 1/2 oz Tomato Paste
- 2 medium Roma Tomatoes Diced
- 2 tbsp Olive Oil
- 2 tbsp Italian Seasoning
Split peppers lengthwise in half remove all seeds and discard. LIghtly coat with olive oil place in Air Fryer at 390 degrees for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, melt 1 2 tbsp over medium-high heat. Add couscous and a pinch of salt and pepper. Toast couscous, 2-3 minutes. Add stock bring to a boil, then cover and reduce to a low simmer. Cook 6-8 minutes until couscous is tender. Turn off heat and keep covered.
While couscous cooks, dice onion and tomato. Heat olive oil in cast iron pan. Add onion and cook until softened, 4-5 minutes. Add ground beef, Italian Seasoning, salt and pepper. Cook, 4-5 minutes, then drain excess grease from your pan, by carefully pouring it out.
Stir tomato paste and diced tomato with beef mixture until thoroughly combined. Add stock and simmer until slightly thickened, 1-2 minutes. Stir in couscous until thoroughly combined and turn off heat.
Once bell peppers are done, remove from Air Fryer with tongs and stuff each half with as much filling as will fit. Place in cast iron skillet with remaining filling, nestling each stuffed pepper half into the mixture. Sprinkle evenly with mozzarella.
Bake stuffed peppers on middle rack on broil, until cheese has melted, 3-4 minutes. Serve hot from the cast iron skillet, oven to table.
Another great treat you can do with your cast iron is dessert. There are so many great options like homemade cobblers, and crustless apple pies, which are all perfect for the fall season. Basically any kind of stone fruit does really well in cast iron and makes a delicious skillet dessert topped with a scoop of ice cream. Even versions of dump cakes do very well too, considering the amount of butter you pour over the top, LOL!
*For those of you not familiar with the “Southern Dump Cake” it is any box cake dumped into a pan topped with a canned fruit pie filling (usually cherry), a can of crushed pineapple- juice and all, and topped with an entire stick of melted butter pour over the top the baked in the oven by directions of the box cake mix. It is delicious, no matter how many coronaries and diabetus it causes and staple at every southern church function ever held.
Another great dessert treat that is really becoming popular and is super easy to make is a Pizooki which is baking your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe inside a cast iron skillet and topping it with ice cream and chocolate syrup. My time saving tasty take is to make it a “Break Bake Brookie” using chocolate chip cookies and brownies! Same basic idea, just intermix your brownies and cookie dough into your skillet. It will take a bit longer to bake in the skillet than the package directions. Mine took about 25-30 minutes total.