Friday, March 29, 2013

Cooking in Cast Iron

I love my cast iron cookware. Yes, it's heavy, but it's also durable. It's cookware you can pass down to your children. Or defend yourself against marauding slabs of bacon.
Once cast iron is properly seasoned, it's pretty much nonstick. And the more often you use it, the more nonstick it will become. Nothing sticks to my cast iron frying pans any more.

With cast iron, you can get a really good sear on your food, or you can pour cold batter in a screaming hot pan (like for cornbread). It holds the heat, so you can keep food warm. You can heat it while it's dry (unlike nonstick cookware) and you can use it on the stove, in the oven, or on your grill.

A frittata is about as versatile as a cast iron pan. You can serve it hot, warm, or chilled. It's great for breakfast, lunch, or even a side dish. You can add a wide variety of ingredients. You can plan it carefully or use up leftovers. Meat or meat-free. Serve it out of the pan, or flip it out to serve.

This time, I used a variety of vegetables. Okay, I'll admit that some of them were leftovers. My combination included carrots, red bell pepper, potato, onion, zucchini, and yellow squash. All of that added a variety of colors and textures.

Vegetable Frittata

2 cups vegetables, cooked through, drained of any excess liquid
1 tablespoon butter
5 large eggs
2 tablespoons heavy cream
Pinch of salt
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Preaheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Slice any vegetables that weren't cut before cooking into 1/4-inch slices and bite-size pieces.

Melt the butter in a 10-inch cast iron frying pan. Add the vegetables and cook until warmed.

Beat the eggs with the cream and salt. Add to the frying pan, quickly mix into the vegetables, and even out the vegetables in the pan.

Cook without stirring until the eggs are cooked around the edges but still jiggly in the center.

Transfer the pan to the oven and cook until the eggs are no longer jiggly and firm, about 10 minutes.

Sprinkle the cheese on top and continue cooking until the cheese is melted.

Serve warm from the pan.

Cast Iron Steak and Potatoes
Steak on the grill is great in the summer, but when the weather isn't cooperating, you can get a great sear on the meat in a cast iron frying pan. Potatoes also get a nice crust. This time I used mini-potatoes that were pre-cooked until done, then crisped and warmed in the pan.

1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 strip steak
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 pound mini potatoes, cooked until tender
10 cherry tomatoes
Flake salt, as needed
Fresh herbs (rosemary, basil, oregano, or chives)
Olive oil, for finishing

Heat the cooking oil (use a high-heat oil) in the pan on medium-high heat until it's just barely smoking. Add the steak and sear on one side, then flip and sear on the second side.

Turn the heat to medium and continue cooking, turning as needed, until the steak is cooked to your desired temperature.

Move the steak to a plate to rest.

Slice the potatoes in half and add them to the pan. Cook, stirring as needed, until the potatoes are browned in spots and heated through.

Meanwhile, slice the tomatoes in half.

To serve, slide the steak and arrange on a plate. Arrange the potatoes and tomatoes around and on top of the steak. Sprinkle with the salt and herbs. Drizzle the potatoes and tomatoes with a bit of oil.

Serve warm.

Got Leftovers? Make Tacos!



Any leftovers are perfect for steak tacos. Just cut the remaining steak into bite-size pieces and toss everything into that handy cast iron pan to heat briefly, then serve in tortillas. Top with salsa and any other garnishes you like.
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