A good cast iron skillet is perhaps the best tool you can have in the kitchen. It is also great for cooking out over a fire. This type of pan is durable and quite easy to use. It evenly spreads heat and radiates that heat for long periods of time. One of the greatest issues with campfire cooking is hotspots, but cast iron can help you avoid that problem. Your food will also stay warm longer once you pull it from the heat.
4 Quick and Easy Cast Iron Skillet Recipes To Try Tonight
One of the most important aspects of cast iron is that it is oven safe. It is always nice to start your food on the stove and then move it to the oven. Also, microscopic drops of oil seal the pan and preserve its condition. Due to this, you can cook with less oil and still keep your surface non-stick. In this article, I will detail a few of my favorite cast iron recipes and will focus on dishes that are simple to cook over a fire or in your kitchen.
Cast Iron Deep Dish Pizza
Normally I am not a deep dish guy. I grew up with crispy thin crust pizza in St. Louis and crunchy strombolis in Pennsylvania. However, the crispy outer crust from a cast iron skillet combined with the fluffy inner crust is pretty incredible.
I suggest toppings that will crisp up for this recipe. Try to avoid veggies that could make it soggy.
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast
- 3/4 tsp. salt
- 3/4 cup water, cold
- 1 tbs. olive oil, for greasing pan
- 1/3 cup of your favorite pizza sauce
- 4 oz. mozzarella & provolone mix cheese
- Any toppings
Combine the flour, salt, and yeast in a bowl. Add the water and mix it into dough. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let it set for at least 12 hours on your counter. It should roughly double in size.
Sprinkle a little flour in your bowl and mix until you can roll your dough into a ball. Oil your cast iron pan and place your dough ball in the center. Press the dough down into the pan and out to the edges. Cover the pan and let it rest for at least another hour.
Preheat your oven to the highest setting. If you are cooking over a fire, lower your cooking height to where the flames are just below the pan.
Add your sauce, cheese, and toppings to your dough. Do not layer your toppings much as this pizza will cook very fast. Thick toppings could lead to a layer of raw toppings.
Cook your pizza. If using an oven, start your pizza over a stove top burner on medium-high heat for three minutes. If cooking over a fire, start for three minutes without a lid. Move your pizza to the oven or add the lid. Cook for 12 to 16 minutes. The crust should be golden brown, toppings should be crispy, and all cheese should be melted.
Let it cool. Let pizza set for five to ten minutes before slicing and serving.
The Best Steak You Have Ever Eaten
I am not exaggerating. Long before I bought a cast iron skillet, I considered myself to be a grill master. I was sure that I cooked the best steaks possible. I was wrong. The reason you hardly ever see this method in restaurants is that it is time consuming and almost impossible to cook to order, but it is worth the wait.
Cooking steaks by this method gives you a salty sear on the outside which make it incredibly flavorful. It also allows you to cook the steak at a perfect medium rare all the way through unlike a normal sear that leaves it rare in the middle and overdone on the outside. Finally, this method rests the steak in the middle of the process so the juices reincorporate, but the meat is still smoking hot when you start eating.
- Any thick premium cut of beef (I prefer porterhouse)
Bake your steak. In an oven you want to set your oven to 275 degrees F and cook your steak to an internal temperature of 125 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil and use a cooking rack to raise it off of the baking sheet. Heavily season both sides of the steak with salt and pepper and pop it in the oven.
If you are doing this over a fire, suspend your steak several feet above the flames. To check your temperature, hold your hand over the flames at cooking height palm side down. You should be able to hold it there for four to five seconds before pulling it away. This ensures that the steak will cook evenly.
The cooking time for this step will vary based on the thickness of the steak. A ¾” thick steak will normally take about 20 to 30 minutes. If your steak is thicker, check it every 10 minutes or so. It should still have a red appearance but should be just starting to turn grey. It should also be developing a thin dry layer on the outside.
Rest your steak. Remove your steak from the heat. If you have foil you can wrap it and throw a towel over top. Otherwise, just removing it from the heat is fine. This redistributes the fluids throughout the cut. Rest for about 20 minutes.
Sear your steak. I like to add a little more salt before this step. Put your cast iron pan directly on the fire or stove burner. Let it get smoking hot before placing the steak in the pan, about 10 minutes. Put the steak in your pan and make sure that you get as much surface contact as possible. This creates your crust. It should only take one to two minutes per side to get a dark sear. If there is some smoke, do not worry about it. This is just part of having a very hot cast iron pan.
Your steak is ready to eat the moment you take it off the heat. There is no need to rest it again, and there should be no need for additional seasoning.
Cast Iron Cornbread
There is nothing quite as comforting as steaming cornbread slathered in butter. I have warm memories of the cornbread my grandmother cooked with almost every supper we ate. Most people think of using a cast iron skillet for meat or vegetables, but not for baking. Still to this day many people bake with their cast iron.
- 1 Tbsp bacon drippings or butter
- 2 cups cornmeal OR 1 1/2 cups cornmeal and 1/2 cup flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 egg
- 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
- 6 Tbsp butter, melted
Preheat your pan. Add your Tbsp. of bacon drippings or butter to the pan and place it in a 400 degree oven. If cooking over a fire, test the heat at cooking height. The ideal height would cause you to retract your hand after about two to three seconds. Adding a lid will make your cornbread cook more evenly.
Make the batter. Stir together all of your dry ingredients. Then add your egg, buttermilk, and melted butter. Stir together until smooth, although a few lump does not hurt anything.
Bake. Pour your batter into your preheated skillet. Bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees. Check your finished product by inserting a toothpick or knife in the center. When it comes out clean and the edges near the pan are starting to turn brown, it should be done.
Let it cool and serve. Let your cornbread rest for 10 to 30 minutes before cutting. Slice into wedges and serve.
This cornbread should be fluffy and slightly sweet. It is a filling addition to any meal.
Cast Iron Apple Dutch Baby
For those that have a sweet tooth, this recipe should hit the spot.
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- ¾ cup whole milk, room temperature
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- 1 large Pink Lady apple, peeled, sliced ¼” thick
- 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. If you are cooking over a fire, set your cooking height to where you can hold your hand over the fire for two seconds.
Mix eggs, milk, flour, vanilla, salt, and ½ tsp. cinnamon in a medium bowl until smooth.
Melt two Tbsp. of butter in your skillet. Add your apples and sprinkle with brown sugar and remaining cinnamon. Cook for about four minutes tossing regularly until the apples are softened. Move them to a plate.
Wipe out your skillet and let it set in the oven or over your fire for 10 minutes. Add your remaining two Tbsp. of butter and coat the bottom of the pan.
Add your apples to the center of your pan and then pour your batter over the top. Cook for 12 to 15 minutes. The outside should be browned and crisp while the center should still be custardy but warm. Serve by itself or add vanilla ice cream or maple syrup.
Of course there are drawbacks to using a cast iron skillet. It is heavy, it is easy to burn yourself, and you have to be cautious that it does not rust. However, for anybody that spends much time cooking from scratch, a cast iron skillet is a must. If you have never cooked with a cast iron skillet, I suggest you borrow a pan and try it out on a few of these dishes. I am certain you will be impressed!
Looking for some cast iron skillets of your own? Check out these fantastic options:
- Use a classic cast iron skillet with this Pre-Seasoned Cast-Iron Skillet
- Grill your steaks to perfection by using the Pre Seasoned Lodge L8SGP3 Cast Iron Square Grill Pan
- Clean your cast iron the right way with a Umiwe Basics Cast Iron Cleaner 7 Inch Stainless Steel Chainmail Scrubber Skillet Cleaner with Ring