Several years ago my dad came home from the recycle place with three cast iron skillets that someone had taken up there as scrap iron. Dad asked the owner of the place if he could buy them. The owner said they would weigh them and he could in fact buy them for whatever they would bring as scrap. He wound up buying all three for something ridiculously low, like $2 and some change. He brought them home and gave them to me because he knows how much I love to cook. I seasoned them up and I still use them to this day. That day began my love of cooking with cast iron.
Cast iron is great to cook with for many reasons: it adds iron to your diet, it’s easy to clean up, it’s naturally no stick if you have it seasoned properly, it heats evenly, it’s fairly affordable (especially if you buy it at a recycle place for $2), and you will be able to pass it down in your family because cast will last forever. I’m slowly acquiring more and more pieces for my cast collection, but my favorite piece so far is my dutch oven.
A couple of years ago my mom got it for me as a Father’s Day gift. It has been super fun to use because it’s so versatile! It’s definitely a piece of cooking equipment that will bring the family together.
Let’s Talk Chili!
Fall will soon be upon us, which means cooler weather… Chili weather! We will eat chili year-round at my house but there’s just something special about good chili on a cool, or even cold, day. We will get the whole family together and get a pot of chili going over an open fire.
Chili is one of those things that’s super easy to make. Once your fire is going, throw your dutch oven on. We brown our hamburger right in the dutch oven. When it’s browned we’ll mop the grease up with some paper towels, then we add all of our beans, peppers, onions, and seasonings; everything you like in chili.
Here’s a secret ingredient for you: Brown Sugar. We like chili that has a kick, but the brown sugar leaves you with a nice surprise which you weren’t expecting. Super delicious! If you’re feeling especially adventurous, you can even mix up a batch of cornbread batter, pour it on top of your chili, and then bake it in your dutch oven right on top of your chili. Just put the lid on and then throw some coals on top of the lid. Yes, you can bake with a dutch oven also!
To get your heat right, double the diameter of your dutch oven and then add one (1). For example, if you have a ten-inch dutch oven, you will want twenty-one coals. Two-thirds (⅔) of the coals go on the lid, and the other one-third (⅓) go underneath. So fourteen (14) coals on the lid, and seven (7) underneath. That will get you roughly to 350-degrees, allowing you to bake with your dutch oven.
How About Dessert?
I can attest that you can make some absolutely delicious desserts with a dutch oven. Maybe it’s because you’re cooking with wood, or because you’re outside, or maybe it’s just because you’re using cast iron. Whatever the reason, desserts baked in a dutch oven just hit differently.
A while back I got the bright idea to make my own custom dessert. I took a can of cinnamon rolls, opened them up and then unraveled the rolls. I had long strips of dough that I just laid in the bottom of my dutch oven, allowing the long strips to hang over the sides. When the bottom was covered, I poured in a can of apple pie filling, and then I laid the overhanging cinnamon rolls over the top of the pie filling. I then threw my dutch oven on the fire and laid on the appropriate amount of coals. The result was absolutely amazing.
The cinnamon rolls had turned a nice golden brown, with a little bit darker brown right in the middle; but I covered that up with the icing pack that came in the package of cinnamon rolls. Want to get your friends, or family, talking? Give that recipe a try. It’s fantastic.
The moral of the story is: Cast Iron is amazing and if you aren’t cooking on it yet you should definitely give it a go. It’s super fun and is a great way to bring friends and family together. I strongly advise you to get a skillet or dutch oven and get cooking!