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Category Archives: cast iron

GIVEAWAY!!! Also, cooking with cast iron is NOT scary

The BSA-licensed 10" Lodge SkilletDuring our first Christmas together, The Patient Wife and I had very little money. I had lost my management job the day we got back from our honeymoon and I was working as much as I could in a part-time job for the Boy Scouts. It KILLED me that I couldn’t make enough money to buy all the presents that I felt my new bride deserved.

Since my wife is the head chef of our house AND she has wholeheartedly supported my scouting lifestyle, I bought my wife the nicest thing I could afford: The official, licensed, Boy Scouts of America 10″ cast-iron frying pan.

Fast forward to our first Valentine’s day. The Patient Wife spent weeks planning our perfect first Valentines meal: beef tenderloin and bacon-wrapped shrimp. The shrimp and the bacon we roasted in the oven and turned out BEAUTIFULLY. The steak caught on fire, stuck to the pan, and burned.

We were now officially terrified of cast iron.

I finally bit the bullet and took a class on dutch oven cooking. That lit a fire and now I try to cook something in cast iron every day. My food tastes better, smells better, and looks better.

Here are some benefits to cooking with cast iron:

  • Your food will taste at least ten times as awesome
  • There’s no weird Teflon cancer causers in it
  • Your friends will be extra crazy impressed
  • It’s a great way to get more iron if you’re anemic.
  • Your cookware will outlive you, your kids, and your grandkids
  • It takes 7 seconds to clean and you don’t even need soap
  • It has better non-stick than teflon
  • You can cook over a stove
  • You can bake in it in the oven
  • You can throw it on coals to cook on a campfire
  • You can burn off the food to clean it

You don’t need to make anything fancy. Cook some eggs. Make a grilled cheese. Sautee some onions! Make a stir fry! Boil some water! It’s SO EASY. Cook one thing in it and you’ll be hooked. You’ll use it for everything and anything. You’ll love it so much and your kids will fight over who gets it in your will.

To get you all fired up about cooking in cast iron, I am sending one lucky reader an 8″ Lodge frying pan. For free. Yep. For free. You will use this pan and you’ll LOVE it.

All you have to do is leave me a comment (only comments with full name and e-mail address will be counted!) by 11:59 PM CST on Thursday, November 16th 2012. In your comment, tell me what your cooking experience is or isn’t with cast iron! Do you love it? Do you hate it? Have you never used it? What will you cook with it if you win? I want to know!

I’ll use random.org to pick a commenter to win, and you can’t win unless you leave a comment!

Good luck!

 Fine print: Drawing is open ONLY to Continental U.S.A. residents aged 18 and older. This blog and its author is in no way affiliated with or endorsed by Lodge Manufacturing. I paid for the skillet myself and am not being compensated or reimbursed to provide this product.

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50 Comments

Posted by on November 13, 2012 in cast iron, Giveaway

 

How to make dutch-oven chopped pecan cinnamon French Toast

This weekend, The Patient Wife and I were invited to the ‘Hoda cabin and heck was sure raised. There’s an extra manly factor to cooking in a Dutch oven for a host AND their family, so I whipped up this little gem for Sunday morning breakfast. It was a hit with the 4-year-old and Mr ‘Hoda and I had seconds and thirds.

To make this wonderful mess of awesome, you’ll need the following:

  1. A 12″ Cast Iron Dutch Oven
  2. 1 cup butter
  3. 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  4. 1 cup-ish of chopped pecans
  5. A dozen eggs
  6. 1-3/4 cup milk
  7. 2 tsp vanilla extract
  8. 3 tsp cinnamon
  9. 1/2 loaf French bread, cut in 1″ slices
  10. 3 or 4 full pieces of bread.

Step 1

Mix the eggs, vanilla, cinnamon, and milk together. Do it with a lot of heart because we’ll know if you don’t.

Step 2

Melt the butter in the bottom of the dutch oven, and then dissolve the brown sugar in it. It’s really not that hard. Stir it with a wooden spoon or something. Don’t use metal, as you’ll damage the protective coating on your dutch oven.

Step 3

Now that the butter has melted, cover the bottom with a single layer of pecans.

Step 4

Soak each piece of bread in the egg solution and put it in the oven. Once all the bread is in there, soak the three or four whole pieces in what remains and place them on top. Dump any remaining egg solution over the top.

Step 5

Either bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes, or put 8 charcoals underneath and 12 on top. You don’t even need to serve it with anything. It’s seriously that awesome.

You would seriously have to be a moron to screw this up. It’s so simple.

Leave me your favorite meal to cook for company and I just might cook it and post about it.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on November 5, 2012 in camp cooking, cast iron, dutch ovens

 

How to cook chicken parmesan for 100 people without dying in the face

In which El Chris makes a turd of himself taking too many pictures of food.

This weekend, I went camping. More on that later. Naturally, I had my camera and I made certain that all the cooking staff KNEW that I would be following them. All four of the meals were made in dutch ovens, and they were so good that my face melted straight off.

STRAIGHT.
OFF.

The Food God and Goddess were there (you’ll know her by her apron) and spearheaded some sweet meals, including mountain man breakfast and a killer set of dutch oven sloppy joes. However, those couldn’t hold a candle to the chicken parmesan they served for dinner. It was like Heaven landed on my tongue and then exploded. It was like a thousand Golden Retriever puppies were giggling inside my mouth. And it followed a VERY simple recipe that can be scaled to serve over 100 people, which is what we did.

To make it, you’ll need the following for each dutch oven, which serves 4 teenage boys or 6 normal people:

4 Chicken Breasts
4 Baguettes
1 package instant mashed potatoes.
Two 14.5 ounce cans of Italian-style stewed tomatoes (or just a crap ton of tomato sauce)
1 clove garlic (optional-ish)
1/2 Teaspoon oregano
2 tablespoons of corn starch
1/4 cup of grated Parmesan
1 big-ass can of corn
3 lb rigatoni pasta
Bag of charcoal
Tin foil or Foil liner (super optional)

1. Line up your dutch ovens. If you have one, I guess that’s fine. The liners placed in each oven made cleanup a snap, so get a bunch right now because I said so. Make sure you have 1 additional pot liner, as we will need the extra later.

2. Heat the dutch oven to 350. For a 12″ oven, that means you’ll need 24 charcoal briquettes total. Since we’ll be roasting the chicken, put 12 briquettes underneath, and 12 on the lid. Make sure you arrange the coals on the edge of the lid and not in the middle. This will ensure that the lid heats evenly. Just trust me. Do it this way or you’ll screw it up and probably die or something.

Careful, they’re hot and if you touch one then you’re stupid.

3. Roast the chicken for 20 minutes. By roast I mean put the lid (with coals) on the pot and go drink some Shasta. It better be Shasta.

4. While the chicken is cooking, you’re going to prep the pasta sauce. BECAUSE I SAID SO! GOD! In a seperate pot, stir all the ingredients together. That means you take the oregano, 2 cans of tomato junk, corn starch, and parmasan and stir them all together. I don’t care how you do it, as long as you stir the bejeepers out of it. Cook over medium heat or so the sauce is hot to the touch but not bubbling. It will thicken, like your hipster buddy’s love for crappy music.

5. Mix the sauce and cook it like so: 

Here’s a 4th picture of the pot with the same stuff.

6. Now we start the real prep. The cooked chicken is now in the dutch ovens. That’s a hard win, folks.

At this point, you should have a guy named Brandon you can yell at.
Do it. “GO OPEN THE CORN!” you can scream.

7. While Brandon is opening corn, you can spoon the delicious sauce over the chicken. You can do it like we did below, as long as you’re generous. You will have sauce left over, which is perfect for bread dipping.

At this point, The Food Goddess was offered a sacrificial lamb
and we waited impatiently to see her reaction.
She simply stirred.
She stirred some more and declared the sauce
fit for consumption. There was much rejoicing.
Then we poured much sauce onto much chicken.

In which El Chris watches Brandon make so much corn that El Chris will poop corn for a week.

You can now have Brandon heat the corn and dump it into a heaty thingy.

8. With the corn, as long as it’s been heated, you can serve it up. I like to heat it in the can (the can WILL take the heat from the stove, as long as you ditch the label so it can’t burn.) and then serve it from the can. It saves on dishes, but the electric heaty thingy was way handy.

9. While the corn and chicken are doing their thing, make the package of mashed potatoes. Mince and add the leftover garlic. Mix in some corn. Cover with surplus sauce while serving. Make new friends.

10. At this point, all of the chicken should be in ovens, ready to rock. Since they’re all in 12″ dutch ovens, cooking them should be a simple matter of counting. Twelve coals on the bottom, twelve on the top. Stack. The top coals on the first dutch oven become the bottom coals of the next. Brilliant, right? Now stacky stacky (no more the 4 high, you’re not superman.) and cook for another 30-40 minutes. While this is cooking, slice the baguettes into manageable pieces. The bread should be used to sop up extra sauce.

I know we’re cooking with 9 ovens here, but if you just have one, twelve
coals on the top and twelve on the bottom will be just fine, sir, just fine.

Sometimes, make sure the Food God pokes at them to keep them cooking.
He likes to poke stuff that’s burning.

11. About ten minutes before the chicken is done cooking, you can start making the pasta. To cook pasta, you boil it in water for 8-12 minutes. Put some in your mouth. Does it feel right? Then it’s done.
You can also taste (right, like put the food in your mouth and evaluate the results) the sauce and see if you like it. You can add a clove of minced garlic if you don’t like it and your wife says it’s ok, otherwise leave it be.

At this point, you will have a table full of ordeal candidates who demand food NOW. They will soon be appeased.

Paul was so hungry that he made eye contact with the photographer.

Despite our best efforts, Eric seemed oblivious to commands like
“TAKE YOUR HAT OFF AT THE DINNER TABLE.”

Loads of newly elected ordeal MEMBERS lined up to get their first
solid meal in 24 hours

This is what all of the fellas signed up for. They have been waiting for this for EVER. It’s totally worth it. Make sure you douse their potatoes in sauce and give them bread to sop up the extra. Each oven will supply 8-10 half-breasts-of-chicken.

Got any other suggestions? I’d love to hear them! Leave them in the comments, a response is guaranteed.

 

How to restore your cast iron without ruining the world or killing your cat

How to make old cast iron look new while defending the honor of kitties everywhere in five easy steps!

Several months back, I went into the storage unit at my local Boy Scout office, hoping for inspiration. I’m responsible for entertaining a group of Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts every week for the rest of my life, and I always need activities. While in there, I found 8 dutch ovens. 5 made of cast iron, and 3 made of aluminum (one is hidden inside the larger one on the left). All were in nasty shape. Have you ever smelled rancid oil? It smells like stuff you squeeze from your dog’s anal gland. Naturally, I lugged them all home and put them in my office.

I posted about this on Facebook and within 2 hours, my dad called me to say that his friend had 6 more dutch ovens that my scouts could have, plus a frying pan, a griddle, and a grill. They were in much better shape, but still needed love. As a result, the floor of our office looked like this:

See what I mean when I say my wife is patient?

I now had a project.

In which El Chris smokes out his apartment and parking lot

The first thing you’ll notice about old cast iron is that it’s usually rusty on the outside and sticky on the inside. It’ll probably smell terrible and be coated with spider webs. In all likelihood, it’ll look like the pot we’re going to restore:

We’re going to follow this pot from start to finish. The only photos I’m showing are this pot, and it was shot in my living room so if you say anything about my apartment being messy then I’m going to come to your house and poop in your bed.

 1. 5-ish minutes. The first step is super easy, but it might cost you .Tell your wife that it’s ok if she and her friends go out to Pizza Luce or someplace else they serve booze. It’s best if she’s had a few by the time she returns because if done wrong, this can make your apartment smell like butt. Once she’s gone, rinse all the debris off the pot. Spider webs, grass, dust, iron shavings, all of it. Use a plastic brush if you have to, but nothing stronger.

DO NOT USE SOAP!!!!!

Soap will soak into the pores of the dutch oven and flavor all of your food like dish soap. It’s awful. It makes you poop your guts out and it kills adorable kittens.

 

Do not EVER wash your cast iron with dish soap.

 EVER!

2. 80-110 minutes Bake the HELL out of the dutch oven. We do this because we need to get rid of the rancid, stinky oil that’s inside the oven. If we don’t, it’ll flavor your food in an awful way that will make you wish you were dead.

 If your oven has a self-clean cycle, throw it in there and turn on the self-clean. It’ll smoke. HOLY HECK will it smoke. It’ll smell like corn dogs or french fries which is pretty sweet, but make sure your bedroom doors are closed so that the smell doesn’t get on everything you own (and wear to work). Open your windows, throw on the fans, and open your front door.

If there’s no self-clean cycle on your oven, turn it to the highest setting but make sure the broiler doesn’t turn on. In all likelihood, the oven will top out around 650 degrees. This is fine, it’ll just take a little longer. It’ll still smoke, so don’t get all cocky, turd. You can turn the broiler on for about 20 minutes to get the other side of the pot and lid, but the majority of the heat should come from the bottom coil on the stove.

This is what a dutch oven looks like inside another oven, you moron.

 When your iron comes out of the oven, it’ll look like the pictures above. A little better, but still not done. At this point, all of the protective, non-stick oil (called the seasoning) has been burned off and you’re left with a pot that will rust at the drop of a hat. 

 WARNING, MUTHATRUCKAAAAAHS!

Seriously though, read this part

650 degrees is really stinking hot. REALLY hot. I don’t know how else to impress this on you. At this temperature, your skin turns black and sizzles when it brushes metal. Your pot holders are not enough. If they’re cloth, at that temperature they’ll start smoking after about two and a half seconds of contact with a pot. I recommend using aluminum pot grabbers AND a silicone oven mitt on each hand.

 

In which El Chris makes muscles and gets manly

3. 20-30 minutes, depending on your forearms Now you’re going to scrub, and you’re going to like it. It may help to wear a fake mustache during this part, as you scrub harder when you feel manly. Mine came from a quarter machine at the outlet mall in Albertville.
I use a wire brush and steel wool and I scrub the hell out of it. I scrub until I sweat and my arm burns, and then I switch arms. I swear a little bit, I wipe rust dust onto my wet forehead, and I scrub some more. Scrub the inside and outside and bottom, making sure to pay attention to the little legs on the bottom.

It’s going to get orange and dusty, so wipe it off over
the sink with a dry paper towel every few minutes. 

YOU’RE ALMOST DONE!

4. Like a minute or something. Now comes the easy part. Get some canola oil (it has a higher smoke point than vegetable oil or shortening) and smear it all over the pot with a paper towel. Make sure you get the handle, the legs, the bottom of the legs, the pot handles (different than the handle) and the lip of the lid. Wipe it off so that it doesn’t drip anywhere.

5. 60 minutes or until not sticky Set your oven to 350. Put your pot and lid in. Bake. When no oil soaks into a paper towel, you know it’s done. Repeat step 4 if the pot was in really bad shape or had a rough interior. When it’s done, take it out and let it cool. It should look like this:

If you’ve done it right, it’ll look like this. If properly maintained (repeat step 4 every 10-20 uses or after cooking something acidic) your cast iron should last until your grandkids have grandkids. Questions? Leave a comment!

 
4 Comments

Posted by on September 11, 2012 in cast iron, DIY, dutch ovens, restoration, seasoning

 

The super easiest pineapple cake you’ll ever eat ever.

I have a recipe that I’m going to share with you. I decided that you are going to make it tonight. You’re going to make it and you’re going to love it.

You will need the following:

4 Tbs. butter 1 yellow cake mix
1 cup brown sugar 1 cup pineapple juice
8 pineapple rings 1/3 cup water
8 maraschino cherries 3 eggs
1/3 cup oil

1. Make the cake mix by mixing the eggs, oil, pineapple juice, water, and cake mix together. If it’s not yellow cake then you’re doing it wrong. It’ll say yellow cake on the box. Seriously. You can’t screw that up unless you really really try. Here’s a picture of what it looks like in case you’re really stupid.

See how mixy it all is? Make it mixy or terrible things will happen to kittens.

2. Heat the dutch oven over 12 lit charcoal briquettes. Like super hot. Melt the butter in the bottom.

3. Once the butter is all liquid, sprinkle the brown sugar over it. It’s super hard to screw up, so don’t screw it up.

4. Now that the bottom of the pan is prepared, you should cover it with a single layer of pineapple rings. In each ring, you should put a maraschino cherry. Make it pretty, because it’ll come back later.

See that? It’s pretty. Super pretty. If yours isn’t pretty then you’ll probably die.

 5. To bake, leave the oven over the 12 briquettes of charcoal and place 16 on the top. Make sure to put them up against the edge of the lid as I done did below. Rotate the oven counterclockwise and the lid clockwise 90 degrees every 15 minutes. Repeat for 45 minutes.

Placing the coals around the edge is crucial.

 6. After 45 minutes, pull the lid off, being careful not to spill the charcoal powder into the cake. It’ll look like my picture below and it’ll smell better than a kitten or something. Test it by poking it with a stick or fork or something. If it’s done, whatever you poked it with should come out clean.

 7. Stick a spatula between the cake and the pan to separate them. Turn the whole thing upside-down and get the cake on the lid. It should look nice and caramelly.

Flipping it over is super complicated so make sure there are two of you and one of you stands on the table.
See how chewy and heavenly that looks? Because it is.

 8. Give some to your boss. Tell him he has to eat it without using his hands.

He’ll be surprised when it’s good.

9. Serve with some ice cream. Or don’t. I don’t care, I’m not your dad.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on September 8, 2012 in cake, camp cooking, cast iron, cooking, dessert, dutch ovens, food

 

Gratitude Tonight

Yep. That’s our office with 15 filthy, neglected cast-iron pieces and a box of cameras.
I took it upon myself to restore them.
I married a very understanding woman.

As I lay in bed, reeking of burnt vegetable oil, ash, and rust, I can’t help but be anything but eternally grateful for the love of a woman who, in spite of all of my imperfection, loves me enough to let me keep 12 rusty dutch ovens in our craffice and repair them one by one. I love you, Wifey.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on September 5, 2012 in cast iron, dutch ovens, gratitude, love, marriage, projects