One-pan cooking is all the rage in my crazy get-all-the-kids-to-all-their-activities, not-enough-hours-in-the-day life, who-put-the-empty-milk-carton-back-in-the-fridge, where’s-the-darn-casserole dish life! Sometimes all I can do is throw my hands up in the air and thank the Heaven’s above I still have my grandmother’s well-seasoned cast-iron skillet, the queen of all one-pan cooking instruments. The seasoned perfection of the hundreds of meals cooked in my skillet seems to make every dish I make in it a simple and delicious solution! Try my five favorite cast-iron skillet meals.
First off, there are people who think anything tomato-based should not be cooked in a cast-iron pan for fear of the acid removing the pan’s seasoning. I find that false; my grandma made this dish for me growing up, and I continue making it with no problems whatsoever. Shakshuka is an Israeli dish made by poaching eggs in a spicy tomato stew. I always have on hand the main ingredients (tomatoes and eggs) to sauté in the pan, then I add whatever others I happen to have on hand (ie — onions, peppers, garlic). After five minutes, I scoop a few wells into the stew and crack two or three eggs into them and let them poach. This savory dish is good morning, noon and night!
I love a coal-fired pizza so much you couldn’t pay me enough to eat those microwave versions. With my cast-iron skillet, I can make a pizza any authentic Italian would cry for. Take your favorite dough (either handmade or purchased) flattened to fit the size of your skillet, add your toppings, and carefully slide it into your pre-heated skillet-turned-pizza stone. Cook on stovetop for a few minutes and then slide into the broiler to allow cheese to melt and toppings to heat all the way through.
You just can’t beat beet, and roasted beets are like candy (that’s what I tell my kids to get them to eat them). Wash, scrub, peel and cube beets. Toss well with oil, sprinkle generously with salt (I like Kosher), and cook in your cast-iron skillet in the oven at 350 degrees until beets are fork tender, turning every 10 minutes to avoid burning.
My family is nuts for pancakes, and not just any ol’ ones. We’re talking Baby Dutch Pancakes – the breakfast treat that looks like an edible bowl! What I thought was my mom’s handed-down family recipe was actually a Sunset magazine one. Even if it’s not a family recipe, it’s a family favorite. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Blend 4 eggs, add one cup each of flour and water and blend together. Melt 1/3 cups of butter into cast-iron skillet and pour batter into pan. Place in oven and cook approximately 20-25 minutes until pancake is puffy. We like to immediately add chocolate chips (if we’re feeling naughty) or fruit (if we’re feeling healthy) to the pancake and munch away!
No two ways about it, the best dish as far as taste and continuing to season your cast-iron skillet is bacon –full-fat, thick-cut, organic bacon. Turkey bacon need not apply. Place in a cold skillet and slowly heat it up so the bacon releases its fat. I like to blot the bacon after it is cooked so that it is not swimming in grease.