As you know, I love cast iron! It is durable, easy to clean and care for, and brings back warm memories of my childhood. I cook just about everything in cast iron.
Last week, we had smothered pork chops and roasted asparagus — both cooked in cast iron in the oven. I fry, bake, broil, and even poach in cast iron. And of course soup, chili, stew, or beans just doesn't taste right if they aren't cooked in my cast iron dutch oven.
Last Christmas, I was looking though one of my favorite magazines and found something I didn't have. "Oh look!" I 'hinted' to my husband. "Here's a cast iron pie pan! I didn't know they made these." I wasn't sure he took the hint until Christmas morning when I hefted a large heavy box wrapped as only a man does, and my hopes soared. Sure enough, my wish had been granted and I had my pie pan.
A few days later we stopped by a feed store we normally don't go to, and there was a display of cast iron with something else I didn't possess. "Oh look," I cried to my loving husband. "A cast iron loaf pan!" He grinned and added it to the feed bill.
There is a reason my husband is perfectly willing to meet the desires of my heart with cast iron. And it isn't just because he loves me. He likes to eat.
I immediately put that pie pan to good use making him his favorite quiche. I even sauteed the onions and mushrooms in it before lining it with the pie crust. I made him a chess pie, raisin pie, and even a Victoria sponge cake.
The loaf pan does double duty as well. In the morning I bake bread, and in the afternoon, we have meatloaf. I stand up stuffed green peppers in it, and bake pound cakes.
The only thing you have to remember when baking with cast iron is to shorten the cooking time by about five minutes or so, depending on your oven. Everything comes out easily and there is hardly any clean up necessary.
There are lots of books out there on cooking with cast iron, and I've read a few of them. But really you can cook anything you want to in any way you desire. I saute everything for Shepherd's Pie on top of the stove, cover it with the mashed potatoes and transfer the whole thing to the oven. I cook a roast in the over, take everything out, sit the dutch oven on the burner and make gravy in the same pot.
I actually do use some Corning Ware casserole dishes occasionally, as well as some of Mom's stainless steel pots and some stoneware from Pampered Chef, but my cast iron is usually the fist thing I reach for. If you have never used it, I recommend you start with a small skillet and see if you don't get hooked. Now, if I can only find a cast iron muffin pan...
Photos property of Leah McAllister.