Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Potato & Ham Skillet Bake

This dish was inspired by Julia Child. We were watching the "Potato Show", and she made this simple potato dish that looked amazing. So, we took the idea and adapted it to work with the ingredients we had on hand. It would make a great side dish to any meal, but we actually ate it as the main course. It was fantastic!

We started with two large potatoes, boil them and let them cool. Once they are cool enough to handle, slice them and place them in a buttered 10" cast iron skillet. Next, mince 2 cloves of garlic and 1 small onion or shallot, saute and add to the skillet. Mix two large eggs, 1 cup of milk and 1 cup shredded cheese together, and pour mixture over the potatoes and top with a little more shredded cheese. For the ultimate Julia Child touch, you can add a little bit of butter on top to make it brown up even more. Bake uncovered in a 375 degree oven for 30-40 minutes, or until the cheese is nice and browned on top. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes. The milk/egg will set up into a sort of custard, and it is much easier to slice and serve once it's formed. Serves 4 happy campers!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Deep-fried Zucchini & Steak

Okay, so deep-frying isn't all that great for you. But who cares? This was actually a variety of summer squash from our garden this summer, and it was lovingly coated by my wife with a crushed cracker breading. It was a perfect side dish to some strip steak that I seared on the grill plate and finished in the oven (in my cast iron skillet, of course!).

If you want a great little tutorial on cooking steak with cast iron, you should check out this great video by Alton Brown:

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Parmesan Veggie Bake

Basically, just sliced veggies (sweet potato, summer squash and zucchini), drizzled with olive oil and topped with Parmesan. Baked at 375° for 30 minutes. Delicious and simple.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Green Bean Casserole

This ain't yo mommy's green bean casserole. Well... actually, maybe it is. Pretty standard stuff. I've never really had it before, so I thought I'd try my hand at it. My wife was very anti- this dish; apparently, she's only ever had it with french-cut string beans which end up being very mushy. Well, we had leftover green beans from our garden that we had already pre-cut into short pieces, so we compromised. Turns out, short cut green beans are to casserole what bacon is to... everything! Not only did it make it a whole hell of a lot better, we got to use up some of our garden veggies too (which makes my wife very happy).

1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup milk
2/3 cup french-fried onions
3-4 cups green beans (cut short-wise, not french cut)

2/3 cup french-fried onions (top before baking)

Mix the milk, cream of mushroom, green beans and half the french-fried onions in a bowl.

Here is my wife helping with the mixing!

Then, I put a little olive oil in the skillet, just enough to coat the bottom and sides.

You add the mixture into the skillet and spread it around. Nothing fancy. Then add the remaining french-fried onions.

Bake for 25 minutes at 400 degrees, and voila! Green Bean Casserole ala Cast Iron Skillet.

Oven Roasted Chicken

I have a weird family. I don't know anyone else who's parents have chickens running around the place. Granted, they have a farm north of the cities, but still. I've been attacked by rogue chickens with bad attitudes while visiting them. I like to think that this recipe uses one of them. Anywho, if you've never roasted a whole chicken before, it can seem a little scary at first. My first attempt was a little less than perfect, but since then I think I've gotten the hang of it.

Take a regular roaster or fryer chicken, and rub olive oil over the entire thing. Season with some salt and pepper.

If you want to get really fancy, you can add some cloves of garlic to the cavity or under the skin. I went for door #2.

Preheat the oven to 450° and place your skillet inside. When the oven is ready, carefully pull out the skillet and place the chicken breast side up. There should be a great sizzly sound as you do this (it helps crisp up the bottom). Cook uncovered for one hour. When you pull the bird out of the oven, the juices should run clear when you tip it up. Or, you can stick a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh and it should read at least 155°.

Save those drippings! If you add a tablespoon or so of flour and a little water over medium-low heat, you've got yourself some damn fine gravy. I deglazed the pan before adding the flour and water to get all that great flavor.

Okay, so you have a great looking bird. Now what? Well, I used to be pretty intimidated as well when it comes to carving a turkey or chicken. And my previous attempts yielded results worthy of a grindhouse horror movie. But, I saw this video and all of a sudden it all made sense.

You can also save the carcass for making your own stock, which is super easy to do.

Friday, October 16, 2009

I am a cast iron ninja

Hello everyone. Welcome to my blog. These things are a dime a dozen, but I don't really care. I love me some cast iron cooking, and I want to share my adventures and follies. Learn something, cook something, eat something, it's all good to me. Thanks for checking me out!