Cast iron, five recipes which use it, and all from an RV

Don’t you just love cast iron? I sure do, and I can’t help but feel a little warmth in my heart when I think about all the wonderful things that have emerged from my ole Le Creuset. As a society, we’ve been using this type of cookware with great success for hundreds of years, both commercially and at home. Cast iron works so darn well every time, and I’ve found it really helps having one for cooking in my RV.

With that thought, I decided to come up with a list of reasons why I love cast iron and why it’s great for RV living. Check it out:

  • Cast iron (or enameled cast iron) can go from the stove to the oven (and even the campfire) without a problem, doing the job of two cooking vessels, which means one less thing to wash after dinner is over. This is an especially good thing given the small amount of sink space found in most RVs.
  • It does its job well. On the stove it can sear using high temperatures because the material is thick and conducts heat like a pro, and in the oven that means even heating for soups or braised dishes. This multi-tasking means I have one less thing cluttering up what little storage space I’ve got.
  • The cast iron is incredibly durable. Being so heavy-duty means one less thing I have to replace if mistreated, like when I foolishly stored mine in an overhead cabinet. My Le Creuset made a speedy six-foot drop one day while in transit, but thankfully no human or cast iron was hurt in the process, and it now resides in a much safer location.
  • You can throw one in the oven at high temp for 45 minutes or so, then when you take it out you’ve got a mega hot griddle for super searing power.
  • In a manner of speaking, it’s a bread baking machine according to some guy named Bittman in NY. Other sources confirm success. Pretty cool if you ask me, especially if you enjoy the goodness of freshly baked bread like I do.
  • It’s so heavy, which makes it useful as a door stop, bludgeoning weapon, a combined weight and heating element to make grilled cheese sandwiches, and it’s the best high volume roasted garlic maker ever.
  • Voted by me as my favorite pot to use for making baked brown rice, which happens to be a staple in many of the things I cook.

And here are four more links to cast iron recipes I like:

Good Eats’ Swiss Steak Recipe from the episode “Cubing Around.” (Not only is this a fantastic dish, but it became the basis for a lot of other ideas I’ve had about cooking meats in cast iron)

Mark Bittman’s No-Knead Bread, which I mentioned earlier.

Amazing and simple French Onion Soup — 1907: Soupe à l’Oignon Gratinée from the New York Times Magazine. Based on the size of your cast iron, you may need to adjust the amount of the ingredients a bit.

Erin also swears by Alton Brown’s Rib-Eye Steak method.

Do you have a favorite cast iron recipe?

15 comments posted

  1. Posted by Brian - 01/10/2011

    Such a coincidence that you posted this now. Just last week I bought my first cast iron pan. I don’t cook much, but two of my goals for 2011 are to lose a bunch of weight and save money, so I don’t have much choice.

    I picked up a Lodge grill pan, which has the ridges on the bottom. I like grilling, but used to think I couldn’t really do it during the winter. But I’ve discovered that anything that can be grilled can be cooked similarly in the grill pan. So far I’ve done chicken breasts and steaks … never thought I’d be cooking steak on the stove (and in the oven), but they turned out great! And it’s sorta fun.

  2. Posted by Lori - 01/10/2011

    Cornbread. My great grandmother, my grandmother, and my mother and all her sisters all cooked in cast iron. That is all they had. They were farmers in rural Kentucky since the mid 1700s and it was just the way things were. I have one of my grandmother’s cast iron frying pans (it is OLD). I cook with it all the time and you really can make anything in it. But Cornbread ROCKS. Perfect, southern cornbread that you crumble up over a bowl of pinto beans that you have cooked all day on the back burner with bacon grease. It pleases the tummy and it pleases the soul.

  3. Posted by aj - 01/10/2011

    I have a few Lodge Logic cast iron items…a small round griddle, a long griddle that goes over 2 burners, a big ole round deep skillet that is HEAVY, and my favorite little pan that is perfect for frying 2 eggs at a time.

    I switched over to cast iron & stainless steel cookwear after getting really tired of replacing my nonstick cookwear because the teflon would eventually start flaking off…and then I found out how BAD the teflon was for us!!

    I love using my well seasoned cast iron. I did learn that you can’t really do tomato sauces in the pans as it will ruin the seasoning. But that is totally fixable, you just have to re-season them.

    And this Christmas my Aunt got me a Rachael Ray enameled cast iron pot…and it is lime green. So adorable! And very versital. I love it so much already.

    I think I will try out the french onion soup recipe, sounds yummy!

  4. Posted by Keter - 01/10/2011

    Like AJ, I switch back and forth between stainless and cast iron, depending on the dish, because cast iron imparts a unique flavor, and some recipes are improved by this, and others aren’t. Enameled cast iron does not impart this flavor.

    A couple of notes on enameled cast iron: don’t put it over a campfire, it can permanently soot-stain. Also don’t use metal implements with it, as it can scratch – particularly true for the newer versions, which use a different formula for the enamel than the vintage LeCreuset.

  5. Posted by Adele - 01/10/2011

    I don’t own a dutch oven yet (but I do love my Le Creuset grill pan!), and part of the reason is that I don’t know what size dutch oven to buy. Any suggestions for figuring out what size is optimal?


  6. Posted by Living the Balanced Life - 01/10/2011

    I just recently watched the movie Julie and Julia and they used the Le Creuset and they made it look so good! I have not ever used one (although I have some cast iron for camping) I may get one for us to use inside! Plus, they are pretty!

  7. Posted by Sheryl - 01/10/2011

    LOVE my cast iron!

    Lori’s right – the only way to get really awesome cornbread is with a hot cast iron skillet and bacon grease. Slap some homemade apple butter on it and oh man! what a meal! :-)

    Right now I’m making a copycat recipe for Wendy’s Chili in my Lodge enameled cast iron dutch oven :

  8. Posted by Chris - 01/11/2011

    The most flavorful, easiest, healthiest dutch oven meals my husband and I have found are from the book, “Glorious One Pot Meals” by Elizabeth Yarnell. Check out the web site: We’ve loved every recipe we’ve tried

    In the summer we cook these meals outside using a traditional unenameled dutch oven and charcoal briquets on the lid and underneath. It’s an easy way to cook great food and keep our kitchen from heating up. Can’t say enough about how great this cooking method and these meals have worked for us.

  9. Posted by Ann - 01/19/2011

    Adele: I have four cast iron dutch ovens: 12″(7 qt), 10″ (5 qt), and two small 8″ (2 qt.). I’d start with the 10″. It’s probably the most versatile–big enough for most recipes, but not too big. I also love the 2 qt ones (Lodge Logic Serving Pot with Iron Cover) because they are so useful for many side dishes, and I use them almost every day. But they’re not big enough for most standard dutch oven recipes. Also, the bigger dutch ovens can be used as skillets that won’t splatter as much (because of their tall sides). I bought the 7 qt. and 2 qt. on Amazon (cheap and free shipping), but I got the 5 qt. one years ago at a garage sale for $5–best garage sale find I’ve ever had. Also, in case you’re not aware, the 7 qt. lid works on the Lodge 12″ skillet, the 5 qt. lid on the 10″ skillet, and I assume the 2 qt. works on the 8″ skillet (although I don’t have an 8″ skillet). That’s nice because the skillets don’t come with lids, but the dutch ovens do, so that saves you money if you don’t need the lids for both at the same time. I use cast iron almost exclusively, and the 5 qt. dutch oven is rarely off my stove.

  10. Posted by lucy1965 - 01/19/2011

    @Adele I’d agree with Ann that the 5 quart Dutch oven is going to be the most versatile; I’ve chosen to go with enameled cast iron, as I do a lot of sauces with wine or tomatoes in mine, and having had occasion to reseason once (I’ve forgiven the friend who did it to my 12″ skillet — mostly ;-) ), I’m not willing to take the chance!

    I can wholeheartedly recommend the Lodge, with the suggestion that you replace the plastic knob with a Le Creuset stainless one: they’re often sold in just that bundle on Amazon. I’ve cooked with both and haven’t noticed a difference except in price.

  11. Posted by green - 01/20/2011

    I LOVE cast iron! We got our first 3 skillets at a yard sale 1 1/2 years ago from an older man who was a collector of them. He knew everything. No doubt, the best deal ever… ($24 for 3 – 6, 8 and 10 Griswolds)… I just got a couple of deeper skillets maybe you could call them Dutch ovens from in laws… I’m hoping that it will be big enough to try baking bread in.

    When I was a kid, my mom used cast iron all of the time too, but stuff always stuck to it. She totally did not get the “seasoning” part and used soap and scrubbers on it every time. She’s still confused as to why I love mine so much.

    Oh, and the collector guy said that the old cast iron is denser than the newer stuff – so if you can find it on Ebay or some place, the older is worth the money. I really wish that we’d had bought more from him…

  12. Posted by Denise - 01/20/2011

    The Boy Scouts have perfected cooking meals in a trusty cast iron dutch oven. You’re right Keter, enameled cast iron works great in the kitchen but not on the campfire. One of my favorite recipes is cobbler:

  13. Posted by gypsy packer - 01/21/2011

    @Lori–second vote for cornbread. White, unsweetened, made with buttermilk and about 1/3 flour, eaten with just about anything, including home-canned blueberries or blackberries for a dirt-cheap and filling breakfast.

    Or, chop sweet red peppers and green onion tops into it, and fry the batter in patties for a great snack or side dish.

  14. Posted by James - 03/23/2011

    Is there a good place to get an American made cast iron dutch oven? I’d love to add one to my kitchen.

  15. Posted by Erin Doland - 03/23/2011

    @James — Your local hardware store is usually the easiest place to find them, in the camping or BBQ sections.

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