Cooking with Cast Iron

I’m really not that good of a cook and have even toyed with the idea of eliminating it from my life and therefore from this blog, but alas, Mr. Cozi is the voice of reason. After all, he has to eat. So, he and I joined the “Cooking Light Diet,” to help with meal planning and healthier recipes. Much to my surprise, most of our recipe choices have been prepared by cooking with a cast iron skillet.

Cooking with Cast Iron

I grew up cooking with cast iron and even inherited a small skillet from my grandmother when she passed away. But, when the much-loved teflon, non-stick cookware came out, I had to have a set of that and stored my cast iron in the back of the cabinet. For the most part I’ve loved my teflon, but now that I’ve been reintroduced to cast iron, I feel like a traitor to my cast-off skillets. But, one bit of encouragement comes from the fact that the “non-stick” lived up to its’ name. It didn’t stick with me forever.

As I re-educated myself on the use and care of my old favorite, a memory of a personal cast-iron calamity hit me in the head – like a frying pan. I was cleaning up after a meal with a friend that included fried chicken, fried green tomatoes, mashed potatoes, field peas and turnip greens. I was young and didn’t know at the time that there is a form of worship and reverence that consumes most southern cooks when it comes to these cooking heirlooms. I picked up their cast iron skillet and plunged it into a pan of soapy dishwater and was quickly reprimanded by its owner, “Never wash cast iron with soap!” I was certain that I had ruined every slice of fried green tomato from that day forward. Then I read this on The Kitchn.com:

“My cast iron pans are like my favorite pair of cowboy boots — they get better and more dear to me with every use.” ~ Chef Elizabeth Karmel

I understand the reverence afforded these much better now. Hoping that my cast-offs will improve with every use, I seasoned them all to get ready for the first meal.

Skillet with 2 Handles

To properly season a cast iron pan:

  • Preheat oven to 325ºF.
  • Wash new cast iron cookware with hot water and clean sponge.  Generously oil cookware with vegetable oil. Bake in oven for 1 hour. Remove skillet from oven and wipe with a paper towel to spread the oil around the pan, including the sides. Return to the oven and bake again for 1 hour. Remove from oven. Wipe excess oil off with paper towels, then allow to cool before storing.

Oven Mitts with Skillet

I use cardboard pieces placed between each piece to store my cast iron collection. (My oven mitts came from Harrod’s in London. I think they look great with the seasoned skillet, don’t you?)

Cast Iron Collection

The first thing I plan to cook is this delicious sounding recipe from Southern Living:

Pork Chops with Pepper Jelly Sauce

4 (3/4-inch-thick) bone-in pork loin chops (about 2 1/4 lb.)
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons butter, divided
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 large jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup red pepper jelly

1. Sprinkle pork with salt and pepper. Melt 1 Tbsp. butter with oil in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork chops, and cook 8 minutes; turn and cook 10 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted into thickest portion registers 150°. Remove from skillet, and keep warm.

2. Add flour and jalapeño to skillet. Cook, stirring constantly, 1 to 2 minutes or until flour is golden brown. Add wine, stirring to loosen particles from bottom of skillet; cook 1 minute or until almost completely reduced.

3. Add chicken broth, and cook 2 to 3 minutes or until mixture begins to thicken. Whisk in pepper jelly until melted and smooth. Cook 3 to 4 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat. Stir in remaining 2 Tbsp. butter. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Return pork to skillet; turn to coat. Serve pork with sauce.

I may not like to cook, but I love trying new things – even if it’s an old tradition.

11 thoughts on “Cooking with Cast Iron

  1. I have never made cornbread in anything but cast iron. My mother made the best I have ever eaten and I learned from her with a cast iron skillet. The recipe looks so good and you can prepare it the next time we come for a visit. You are a good cook and growing up you were always trying new recipes. Sure was nice to come home from work and you would have a delicious meal waiting.

  2. I don’t ever cook in cast iron Kim, picture my blushing cheeks 🙂 I know it is THE pan to be using, but the biggest problem I have is handling the heavy pans! My son gave me a huge cast iron skillet that I rarely use because I have to use both hands to lift it! Thanks for all the info though, maybe I should try again…hope the pork chops are outstanding!

  3. When we go to garage sales, we always hear pickers asking for cast iron. It’s kind of a running joke with us now. When we had our own garage sale, a picker came up the driveway and said, “Well, I know you’ve got your cast iron hiding in the house. You can bring it out now.” I politely told him that I’m from the north and I don’t own any cast iron because I can’t cook on it to save my life.

  4. I’m still ticked-off at a cousin for going in and grabbing all of Grandmother’s cast iron after the funeral. I have five different pans that were all handed down to me by various relatives and use at least one of them every day.

    Don’t worry about the soapy water. Cast iron is indestructible and can be brought back to life with a little TLC.

    Your pork chop recipe sounds yum-yummy! Too good to cook for a cousin who would snatch granny’s skillets.

  5. Hey lady! Thanks for sharing that recipe. It looks really good and hubby loves pepper jelly, so I might just have to try it!
    About the iron skillets… I have several and I have always used mine. When our youngest went off to college and got his apartment, he requested an iron skillet! I found a well seasoned one at an estate sale, cleaned it up a little and sent it to him. His roommate didn’t know how to take care of it, and my son found a rusty iron skillet in the diswasher after it had run the cycle…He called me in a panic, but we brought it back to life! This post reminded me about that little incident.
    Great post!
    See you next week!
    Judy

  6. You, who takes the time to research for recipes in order to prepare delicious food for someone on a very restricted diet, are a great cook! It all starts with the caring for those we are cooking for. There are just some dishes that need to be prepared in cast iron. The pork chop recipe sounds yummy.

  7. I love my cast iron. I use it mostly for making my hubby bread. I love all the different pans that are made: the corn muffin pan ( divide into individual “corn cobs” ), the biscuit pan ( 9 round portions in one pan ), a square grill pan etc. My only hope is that I can always lift it, so heavy, but so worth it.

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