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A Black Iron Haven

Crawfish Étouffée (Lite)

Posted by Rick Mansfield

If I had to pick my favorite Louisiana dish, it might just be étouffée. Like gumbo, étouffée can be made with crawfish, shrimp, crab or chicken. My favorite is crawfish which I believe have much more flavor than shrimp, but I once even tried a ground meat étoufée, which I found to be a bit unusual. Like many Louisiana dishes, étouffée is served over rice. I usually don’t put andouille or smoked sausage in mine, but I’ve seen others include it. I don’t know if I’ve ever actually tried an étouffée I didn’t like, although some are definitely better than others.

This past week I discovered a new kind of étouffé when I visited a local Cajun restaurant, J. Gumbo’s and tried their vegetarian chili cheese étouffée. I always taste before I add Tabasco, but in my sample taste of this new kind, I didn’t get one of the jalapeño peppers the dish, so after I doctored it up with the hot sauce, it was EXTRA hot!

Yesterday, I reviewed MacGourmet Deluxe (see post here). However, I’ve been using the software, a recipe database program (and so much more), since early July learning the ends and outs of it. For the week of July 4, we visited friends and family in Louisiana and had a shrimp boil on the holiday. Afterwards we had a good bit of shrimp leftover, and I suggested we use some of it for an étouffée.

Wanting to try out my newly acquired copy of MacGourmet Deluxe, I looked for an étouffée recipe. When I had installed the software, it asked if I wanted to include some sample recipes, some of which were from the website, Real Cajun Recipes, including the étouffée recipe seen below.

Now, there are two distinctions in the étouffée recipe below. First, to make it lite/diet, it forms its base from canned soup instead of a traditional roux. This is not wholly unusual, and I’ve found a couple of really good étouffée recipes that use cream of mushroom soup before, but if you’ve never had the dish, realize that what is below is not necessarily standard fare. I also feel the need to point that this is a Creole dish, not a Cajun one. At the most elementary level, what makes this Creole is the inclusion of tomatoes. My favorite étouffée dishes are the ones without tomatoes, but this one is good nonetheless (for a dozen different recipes for étouffée from Real Cajun Recipes, go here). This recipe also calls for 4 tablespoons of ketchup, which although I found to be unusual, included for the sake of trying the recipe as close as possible to its original directions.

Below is my mildly adapted version of the original. The accompanying pictures in this post show shrimp, rather than crawfish.

  • Dutch oven (4 or 5 quart recommended)
stirring the onions, bell pepper and celery
(above: sautéing the onions, bell pepper, and celery)

  • 1 pound crawfish tails or shrimp
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 bell pepper chopped
  • 2 stalks celery (chopped fine)
  • 2 tbsp butter or canola oil
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup (reduced calorie)
  • 1 can cream of celery soup (reduced calorie)
  • 1 can Rotel tomatoes original or spicy
  • 2 cans water
  • ½ cup parsley
  • ½ cup green onions (onion tops)
  • 4 tbsp catsup (large dollop)
  • 1 pod of garlic (optional)
  • black pepper - to taste

In smaller Dutch oven over medium heat, sauté onion, bell pepper, celery and garlic (optional) until onions have wilted. Add the Rotel tomatoes and stir until tomatoes are heated.

Add the cans of cream of mushroom and cream of celery. Stir and then add enough water to dilute the mixture to form a thick gravy. Remember, your crawfish or shrimp will give off water in the final steps of the cooking. Lower the heat and cook until mixture is heated, stirring as needed to prevent scorching. Add black pepper if desired. Note that the soup provides enough salt for this dish. Easy on the salt if you do decide to use it.

Rinse the crawfish in a colander to remove the crawfish fat that they were packed in. Drain well. Add crawfish to the mixture along with the parsley and green onions. Cook no more than 10 minutes. In the last couple of minutes of cooking, add a large dollop of catsup mainly for coloring but does give a nice taste to your dish. Serve over rice.

Shrimp étouffée in the dutch oven

MacGourmet users, click image to download recipe (or simply drag image to your MacGourmet recipe box).

Feel free to leave your thoughts or ask questions in the comments below, or you can contact Rick directly at


Review: MacGourmet Deluxe

Posted by Rick Mansfield

Click on image above for larger view.

Recipe database programs have been around in one form or another as long as personal computers have been in homes. Some of these are standalone programs dedicated to recipes, but even standard database programs such as FileMaker Pro come with recipe templates. I’ve been using personal computers since 1982, and I’ve kept recipes saved electronically (in word processing documents or PDF files) since the first computer we had with a hard drive, way back in 1988. But I’ve never been impressed with recipe database software...until now.

Now, let me say up front: yes, you can see a MacGourmet Deluxe (MGD from this point forward) advertisement in the sidebar. But what you must realize is that I first contacted Mariner Software in regard to their advertising with us because I was incredibly impressed with this software. In fact, as I already mentioned, recipe database software is nothing new, but in reality, MGD seems to me to be the mature end result of nearly three decades of this kind of software that has gone before it. I strongly encourage you to download the MGD user manual as I will not be able to nearly touch upon all of MGD’s features in this review. I’ve jokingly said to a friend that MGD seems to do everything except cook the meal for you, but maybe that’s projected for version 2.0.

Of course, MGD does what you would expect--it allows you to keep a database of your recipes. The interface is iTunes-esque, allowing you to create your own categories in the left sidebar. And like an iTunes smart playlist that automatically expands as new songs meet pre-set criteria, MGD allows the user to create “smart recipe lists” that look for certain criteria as the user adds new recipes.

One of the most impressive features of MGD is the multiple ways that recipes can be added to the database. Certainly, the user can enter ingredients and directions manually, but there are also a number of ways to add them automatically from other sources. There are “supported” websites such as,,,, and in which all a user has to do is select the URL on a recipe’s webpage, go to the services menu: MaGourmet, and choose “Import Recipe from Web Page.”

MGD automatically parses the information, separating the ingredients from the directions, the description of the recipe and even includes the picture:

But what if a website is not supported? Well, to test this out, I went to one of my favorite cast iron related websites, “Black Iron Dude.” About a month ago, there was a recipe at this website for Arbol Chile Salsa. To import the recipe from Greg’s website, I first highlighted all the text in his post and then I dragged it to the “Clippings” window in MGD. This is a great little window in MGD that allows the user to drag over recipe after recipe and then go back and format them later. After I had dragged over the text for the salsa, I double-clicked on it to import it in my recipe database.

All of my captured text is gathered at the top of the import window. From the drop down menu, I can select “Ingredients” and MGD knows that this information is separate from the preparation directions. And of course, I can do the same with the directions, information about the recipe, etc.

What impressed me further is that in parsing the list of ingredients, MGD could distinguish between number, actual item and special instructions. Notice for example in the list below, taken from this recipe, that “25” is separated from “dried Arbol chiles” which is separated from “remove stems and shake out some seeds”:

For those watching what they eat (and who isn’t these days?) MGD comes with the abbreviated USDA National Nutrient Database. Ingredients are automatically evaluated by this database and if MGD is unsure about a particular ingredient, the user can open up the USDA database and manually map ingredients. Once all ingredients are mapped and servings are figured, MGD calculates an extremely accurate breakdown of nutritional data.

This information is calculated for 45 separate items:

And when printing out recipes for personal use or to share an abbreviated box with nutritional information is included such as this breakdown for JT’s Family Pancake Recipe:

This kind of information would be extremely helpful not only for the person watching what he or she eats, but also for the personal chef or any person in charge of providing meals for groups of people. MGD includes a weekly meal planner that can be exported to iCal, and shopping lists can be created from planned recipes.

Kathy and I have an older iMac we keep in the kitchen for easy access to recipes we’ve collected electronically over the years. Whether you have a dedicated kitchen computer or simply a laptop on the counter, MGD offers a “Chef’s View” that enlarges ingredients and directions for easy access:

Almost every church group or civic organization has produced a cookbook at one time or another. There are publishers who specialize in this. These publishers should be a bit concerned for their future because MGD includes tools for creating one’s own cookbook with pictures, section dividers, chapters, and more. Once a cookbook has been created it can be exported to PDF ready for publication from a company such as

And of course, when someone asks you for your Garlic Beef Enchiladas recipe after the church potluck, you can print out your recipe according to a variety of attractive built in templates.

As the name implies, MacGourmet Deluxe only runs on Macintosh computers, but the program is so sophisticated, it might be reason enough to switch from Windows if you aren’t already a Mac user. Regardless, MGD can import files in a number of formats: MasterCook, MasterCook Mac, Meal-Master, CookWare Deluxe, Cook’n text, RecipeML, and Yum XML. It can export to iPod notes, MasterCook, MealMaster, RTF and text files.

Our Cooking in Cast Iron website is still fairly new, but as we add recipes in the future, we will also make them available in MGD format which means that if you want to add one of them to your own collection, it will be as easy as dragging an icon from our website directly into your MGD database.

MacGourmet Deluxe is available from Mariner Software for $44.95.

Feel free to leave your thoughts or ask questions in the comments below, or you can contact Rick directly at


Cast Iron Around the Web: August 17, 2008 (MASSIVE POST!)

Well, it’s been well over three weeks since our last “Cast Iron Around the Web” update. And fellow black iron aficionados, that’s WAY too long, but the cast iron revolution is ROLLING. People everywhere are cooking in cast iron and talking about cast iron as this post CLEARLY demonstrates.

This update represents almost all of the cast iron-related news and recipes posted new over the past two weeks we could find with the exception of event announcements that had already past.

Enjoy the cast iron exploration below!

A Steak Fit for the Dark Knight. What does cast iron have to do with Batman? Read and find out.

Sunday Fried Chicken Dinner Is Back. Debbie Maugans tells us why and how.

How Do You Remove Rust from a Cast Iron Pot? Cleaning with the ole’ Coca Cola treatment and then basic re-seasoning.

Grandma Was Green Before It Was Cool: What My Green Grandma Taught Me. And guess what? She used cast iron (of course!). Lots of good stuff here.

Fire and Ice. Most folks associate cooking hot food in dutch ovens. But what happens if you use ice cubes instead of hot coals? Well, believe it or not, you can make ice cream!

What You Should Know About Dutch Oven Cooking. A short, but good introduction to the history of cooking in dutch ovens.

How to Properly Care for Cast Iron. Basic article on use and care of cast iron cookware.

Taking Care of Your Gear. Basic instructions on caring for cast iron and other kinds of cookware.

An Ode to Cast Iron. Few things in the kitchen are more versatile than a cast iron skillet. This post includes a good cornbread recipe, too.

Cast Iron Pans and the Return of Sustainability. One of the best ways to overcome the thinking of a disposable society is to return to our roots, such as cooking in cast iron.

Using a NakedPan Helps Reduce Your Fuel Costs. How? Okay, I’ve never heard of a “NakedPan,” but it’s made of cast iron. The link goes to a British site. Has anyone in the US used one of these?

How To: Clean Cast Iron with Kosher Salt. Stephanie shows us how.

Porcelain Cast-Iron Cookware: Not An Oxymoron. Discusses the value of enameled cast iron.

The Pros and Cons of Cast Iron Cookware for Camping. I need a second opinion. Does anyone besides me feel this writers list of the advantages of cast iron is particularly weak?

Foodie Freak: The Kitchen Gallery. Ross Christensen discusses caring for cast iron cookware about 2/3 into his article.

Safe Cooking: Cast Iron. Quote: “When it comes to frying, grandma had it right. Cast iron is a safe, reliable classic. However, they do take some special care.”

How to Clean a Cast Iron Grill Pan. If you’ve ever cooked in one of these pans, you know that the grill pan is the most difficult piece of cast iron cookware to clean. Here are some tips.

What You Need to Know About Enamel Cast Iron Cookware. Information and benefits of Enameled cast iron cookware.

Cast-iron Cookout: Try Your Hand at Dutch-Oven Cooking on Your Next Camping Trip. Quote: “Cooks who pack in a few pieces of cast-iron cookware, however, can expand their everyday recipe repertoire into the great outdoors.”

Dutch Ovens Cook Up Outdoor Treats. Quote: “If you want an egg at my house, you'll have to eat it scrambled. My culinary skills haven't reached any level higher than that. I plan to do some hunting this year, however, and keeping with my philosophy that if you kill it, you eat it, I decided to look into trail cooking.”

The Science of Dutch Oven Cooking. Quote: “There are a few tricks concerning the cooking source that are important to successful Dutch oven cooking. They can make the difference between undercooked or burnt food.”

Dutch Oven Camping. Quote: “...there is a way to eat great, even gourmet, food while camping and it’s through a Dutch oven.”

Toss the Teflon. Options including cast iron.

Steaks. Zank shows us that all we need for a great steak is a good rub and a cast iron skillet.

Grilled Cheese Sandwiches. Zank shows us the art of making the simple grilled cheese sandwich in a cast iron skillet.

Cast Iron Cookware: Great for Cold Foods, Too! And I bet you thought cast iron only worked when hot.

Friday Cooking Brunch. From the Camp Chef Blog comes a pictorial guide to great pancakes.

Wagner Ware Drip Drop Roaster Restoration, Parts One, Two and Three. Greg (Black Iron Dude) has his own electrolysis tank for restoring cast iron which we think is not only hard core, but very cool. See these posts in which he chronicles the restoration of a Wagner roaster.

Wapak A Loo Bop. If you’ve never heard of Wapak cast iron, don’t be surprised; neither had I. They were only around from 1903 to 1926 until they went out of business. Find out more about them as well as some very nice pictures at this post.

Ghost Markings. I thought this was fascinating. Ghost markings are the faint outlines of another company’s logo on a different company’s pan, proving what I’ve thought for a long time--that most cast iron companies (even reputable ones) copied each others’ offerings.

Cooking Outdoors Tastes Better than Homecooking. Read about experiences campers have cooking in the great outdoors and pick up some ideas for your next outdoor cast iron adventure.

June Dutch Oven. Douglas and Karolynn took a dutch oven class and then shared their new found skills with the neighbors.

Camp Cooking with the Kids. Evidently camping is great in Maine where’s there were no bugs for Shawn and his kids. Oh, and they ate very well thanks to the cast iron.

Cast Iron and Coleman Camp Stoves. Cast iron skillets and camp stoves are a match made in heaven, no doubt. Also includes recipes for chili and 15 bean soup.

Now You’re Cookin! Jared picked up his first cast iron skillet since college. And his first experce with a pre-seasoned pan led to stuck-on egg, but at least he knew how to fix it!

Garage Sale Cast Iron Frying Pan Reborn. Mister Jalopy (interesting name) found a treasure at a garage sale--a 12” Griswold skillet. But it was in pretty bad shape initially. Fortunately, he knew how to clean it up and restore it to its former glory (be sure to check out the before and after pictures). And he was so inspired that he’s decided to carry Lodge cast iron in his store. How we love a happy ending!

Dutch Oven Cooking & a Llama Hike. Okay, I made up that title because there isn’t one at the original post. But hopefully it piqued your interest enough to go check out Lightfoote’s description about how the two came together perfectly for a great day overall.

Vacation Food Update. What do you do when you leave your griddle at home? Easy--you turn the dutch ovens upside down and cook your pancakes on the lid!

Our Dutch Oven Experience. The Gamboa and Metcalf families got together for some camping and in spite of the rain, they ate VERY well thanks to good ole dutch oven cooking.

Dutch Oven Cookoff! What do you do when family comes over? You get out the dutch oven and put on the jambalaya!

Dutch Oven Cuisine from New Mexico. Ronnie ate well while in New Mexico recently. And why not? Most of his food was prepared in dutch ovens.

Shorts About the Camping Trip, Part 2. This mother of nine decides the best way to break in a new dutch oven is to take it on the camping trip. But she also wonders if perhaps she doesn’t need a second dutch oven. With nine kids, maybe she does!

Rafting Trip Allows Unique View of Canyon. Quote: “Meals are so unbelievably outstanding on the river that it is often playfully referred to as the ‘float and bloat.’ Breakfasts included eggs cooked to order and French toast. Dinners frequently finished with a fresh baked desert such as brownies and pineapple upside-down cake, cooked in a Dutch oven.”

Dutch Oven. Who said there’s no such thing as love at first sight? Melanie had been looking for just the right dutch oven for quite a time when she found this one in blue enamel.

Dutch Oven Dinner NIght. There’s not much better than a Dutch Oven Potluck.

Over an Open Fire: McAdams Couple Enjoys Dutch Oven Cooking with Fellow Campers. Quote: “When avid campers Bobby and Tammy Payne of McAdams tired of their usual fare of hot dogs and hamburgers they began experimenting with cooking in a Dutch oven over an open fire.”

A Picture to Prove It. Doreen tells about her recent camping adventure with the. How do you cook in dutch ovens if you don’t want to smell like a campfire? Easy--you prepare all the food and then give instructions to family members.

An Iron Skillet Seasoned with Love. This is a very touching article about a mother and daughter who spent months seasoning and cooking in a new skillet that the daughter took wither her when she moved away from home.

Cast Iron King of the Empire State. If you’re visiting the Big Apple, where better to stay than with a friend who’s into cast iron?

Denny's Chefs Break New Ground and Introduce New 'Sizzlin' Breakfast Skillets. Quote: “The Southwestern Sizzlin' Skillet comes to the table fajita-style on a hot cast iron skillet and features scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns and fire-roasted onions and peppers accompanied by warm tortillas, freshly made pico de gallo and sour cream.”

Cast Iron. Erin just got a Martha Stewart cast iron skillet. Her first dish cooked in it: Pork Tenderloin with Honeyed Butter.

I’ll Stick with Mom’s Old Cast Iron Pan. Tom Oleson describes his most treasured position.

Food Journal Number 42: Meet Our Cast Iron Pan. Even in Sweden, there’s a move from Teflon to cast iron.

The Original Happy Meal, Brownie Style. Marlena Spieler reminisces upon her scouting experiences.

Well Loved Pots Are a Cook’s Treasure. Marilyn Monette reflects back on the tools in the kitchen that have served her well.

S’Mores with the Browns! What’s better than dutch oven cooking, s’mores and a movie with friends?

Le Creuset Is Cool! Lisa finally got that dutch oven she’d been wanting--in cobalt blue!

Kids Can Cook. But Will They Want To? Great article on getting kids interested in dutch oven cooking.

High Adventure Weekend Part 2: The Food. Read about one mom’s experience providing dutch oven meals for seven families with a variety of dietary restrictions.

Playing with Guns. Nathan writes about his experience camping, complete with dutch oven cooking and guns!

Worth the Wait. Quote: “A definite highlight of each year’s Palousey Trail Ride is the Dutch oven dinner. George Hatley is considered the cook wrangler, offering advice and a few specific orders to volunteers who bring a wide variety of good stuff.”

The Third Time’s the Charm, Sort Of. After previous failures with attempts at no-knead bread, finally a recipe that works!

Dutch Oven Delight. Read how a dutch oven went from really bad condition to ready for cooking no-knead bread.

Baking at Camp. Read about this blogger’s adventures in bread making.

Another Feast in La Sal. Among all the other events on July 24, Pioneer Day in Monticello, Utah included dutch oven potatoes in several varieties.

Jackson Lake’s [Colorado] First Dutch Oven Cook-Off. 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 20.

Cookoff at the Better-Than-OK Cheyenne Corral. Cooking is always better than shooting. Quote: “Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday had their six-guns. The Ryans come armed with 300 pounds of cast-iron Lodge cookware, black as night and beautifully seasoned. A 16-inch-diameter Dutch oven that turns out feathery biscuits weighs 40 pounds.”

West Coast Chapter of the Griswold & Cast Iron Cookware Association to meet September 5-6 in Deer Lodge, Montana.

Dutch Oven Cooking Demo. August 23, Sportman’s Warehouse, Colorado Springs, Colorado. 10 AM to 12:30 PM.

Dutch Oven Cookoff. Oct. 18, 11 AM till finished. Sportmans’s Warehouse, Bozeman Montana.

First Annual Dutch Oven Cook-Off. Cottonwood, Idaho. Despite the oxymoron of the name of this event, it will be held Saturday, August 23, 9 AM to 2:30 PM.

Dutch Oven Dessert & Game Night. August 30, Cane Creek State Park, Star City, Arkansas.

Cast Iron Cooking

Dutch Oven and Campfire

Dutch Oven Cooking

THIS AND THAT (meaning that it doesn’t fit into the other categories)
Special Friday "Review" Round-up. Who needs fancy workout equipment when you’ve got cast iron dutch ovens!? (scroll down to the section “Redneck Kettlebell” )

Dutch Oven. Great picture of dutch ovens and coals from 1939. The fun comes from the accompanying story about trying to get a dutch oven cleaned up since the kitchen stove was broken.

Cast Iron on My Mind. Of course there are other uses for a cast iron skillet...

Cast Iron Competition. Some people cook in cast iron. Others toss them competitively. Really.

Using a Cast Iron Griddle to Tell the Future? Ever heard of scrying? Maybe the cast iron just needs to be cleaned more thoroughly.

Other Uses for a Cast Iron Cook Set. And even more uses beyond cooking...

Andrea's All-Purpose, All-Natural, Thick 'n' Tasty Tomato Sauce (dutch oven)

Aimee’s Canned Tomato Sauce (dutch oven)

Apple Cheddar Cornbread (cast iron skillet)

Arroz con Pollo with Green Sauce (dutch oven)

Australian Damper Bread (dutch oven)

Baked Apple Pancake (dutch oven)

Baked Rice Casserole (dutch oven)

BBQ Shrimp (cast iron skillet)

Beef Brisket with 40 Cloves of Garlic (dutch oven)

Beef Recipes from Wyoming (some call for a dutch oven and some for a skillet; we’ll assume it’s a cast iron skillet, of course).
 - Chunky Beef Stew (dutch oven)
 - Brisket for a Bunch (skillet)
 - Ground Beef Gravy (skillet)
 - Chicken Fried Steak and Gravy (skillet)
 - Sombrero Casserole (skillet)

Better Homes and Garden Blueberry Chutney (dutch oven)

Black Bean Cheese Enchiladas (dutch oven)

Bowl O’ Red Chili (dutch oven)

Braised Pork Shoulder with White Wine and Apple Onion Confit (dutch oven)

Bulgur Chili (dutch oven)

Carmelized Onion and Wine Braised Brisket (dutch oven)

Cast Iron Skillet Chocolate Pie

Cast Iron Skillet Steamers

Catalan Lamb (dutch oven)

Chicken and Sausage Stew (dutch oven)

Chicken Fajitas (cast iron skillet)

Chickpea Ravioli with Basil Pesto and Hazelnuts (dutch oven)

Chinese Grocery Roast Pork and Bok Choy (dutch oven)

Cinnamon Pecan Roll (dutch oven)

Comer Family Fried Corn (dutch oven)

Country Style Ribs (dutch oven or roaster with lid)

Crawfish Recipes (cast iron skillet; yes, I know the articles says CRAYfish, but I can’t bring myself to list it that way).

Deluxe Pot Roast (dutch oven; oh, and the picture makes this dish look so very good)

Dutch Oven Apple Crisp

Dutch Oven Apple Pie

Dutch Oven Bisquits

Dutch Oven Blueberry Cobbler

Dutch Oven Dirty Rice

Dutch Oven Recipes
 - Lasagna
 - Enchilada Pie
 - Potatoes and Onions

Dutch Oven Venison

Dutch Oven Yogurt and Herb Fish

Fantastic Black Bean Chili

Farmer’s Omelette (cast iron skillet)

French Fries (dutch oven; great step by step pictures)

Fried Green Tomatoes (cast iron skillet)

Fritatta (cast iron skillet)

Ginger Lemongrass Beet Gazpacho (dutch oven)

Home Fried Potatoes (cast iron skillet)

Homemade Corn Tortillas (cast iron skillet)

Indian Style Eggplant and Potatoes (cast iron skillet or dutch oven)

Irish Soda Bread (dutch oven)

Irish Soda Bread (cast iron skillet)

Jake’s Dutch Oven Recipes
 - Jake’s Bubble Pizza (12” dutch oven)
 - Jake’s Pull-Apart Cinnamon Rolls (12” dutch oven)

Maple-Mustard Pork Tenderloin (cast iron skillet)

Mediterranean Skirt Steak (recipe calls for a “cast iron pot”; more than likely the writer is referring to a dutch oven)

Molasses and Buttermilk Cornbread (cast iron skillet)

Moroccan Beef Stew (dutch oven)

Nine Mile Stew (dutch oven)

No-Knead Bread (dutch oven)

No Sugar Added Fruit Cobbler (dutch oven)

Orange Knot Rolls (dutch oven)

Pepper Beans (dutch oven)

Plum Pudding (dutch oven)

Pullman Brown Ale Braised Venison (dutch oven)

Prosquitto Lasagna (cast iron skillet)

Ragu Alla Napoletana (dutch oven)

Rice and Beans (cast iron skillet or dutch oven)

Roasted Tomato Soup (dutch oven; site requires registration)

Seared Lamb Steak with Orzo Pasta Salad and Heirloom Tomatoes (cast iron skillet)

Shelled Beans and Vegetables Stewed in Their Own Juice (dutch oven)

Special Veggie Steak Stew (diabetic recipe; dutch oven)

Spiced Eggplant Salad (dutch oven)

Spiced Pork Chops with Red Sauce (12” dutch oven)

Spicy Chicken for Leftover Stew (dutch oven; two meals from one main recipe)

Spicy Shredded Pork (dutch oven; great and detailed pictures)

Steak and Kidney Pie (dutch oven)

Steak Quesadillas with Roasted Peppers and Boursin (cast iron skillet)

Steak Tacos (any cast iron pan)

Stuffed Bell Peppers (cast iron skillet or dutch oven)

Summer Minestrone with Fresh Basil (dutch oven; site requires registration)

Sweet and Sour Chicken (wok or deep cast iron pan)

Swirled Bread in the Dutch Oven

Tomato Juice Can Chicken (dutch oven)

Veggie Fajitas (dutch oven)

Veggie Turkey Pot Roast (dutch oven)

White Bean and Pancetta Soup With Kale Pesto (dutch oven)

Zesty Pork Stew (dutch oven)


Podcast Skillets Up for Bid

Posted by Rick Mansfield

If you caught our first video podcast a few weeks back, you’ll remember that we used three different skillets to demonstrate seasoning, repairing, and cleaning cast iron.

Two of these skillets can be yours if you’d like to bid on them on eBay.

One is the 10 1/4” skillet I used to demonstrate seasoning bare cast iron. It has never been used, and is a real find in my opinion because I prefer seasoning skillets myself over pre-seasoning.

The other is a Lodge pre-seasoned factory second 10 1/4” skillet that I used for demonstrating how to fill in minor pits in a skillet’s cooking surface. The pit is almost completely filled in and will disappear with a few more uses. This skillet has only been used twice to cook cornbread and bacon in the podcast.

Both of these are very nice skillets and I’d be proud to keep and use either one if it were not for the fact that I already have two skillets of this size and just don’t need two more.

The advantage for you as a potential buyer comes from knowing the seller and history of these skillets. Often you just have to hope for the best when purchasing on eBay, but not this time.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask in the comments.


Tips for Cooking in Cast Iron

Posted by Rick Mansfield

Not too long ago, a friend of mine handed me a couple of cast iron skillets which were rusted and had odd stains and asked me what I could do to get them back in shape. If you’ve seen our first video podcast, you saw me use one of them as a demonstration for restoring a rusted pan. After I cleaned and re-seasoned the pans, I gave them two initial run-throughs--one in the oven with corn bread and one on the stove top with bacon.

After I gave the pans back, I offered a few tips for keeping them in good shape. Below is an adaptation of what I suggested. You should know that not everyone is in 100% agreement with all of these suggestions and that’s okay. These suggestions are what I do to keep my cast iron pans “healthy” and looking good.
  1. Use your pans and use them a lot.  If your pan has just been seasoned fresh (as opposed to factory pre-seasoned) or re-seasoned it will probably be a shade of brown, BUT it should be completely black within a year if it is used frequently. There's very little that cannot be cooked in cast iron. Rethink the kinds of pans you use. If you normally cook something in the oven on a cookie sheet, it might cook just as well in the skillet. On the stovetop, skillets can be used for much more than frying, but obviously, they're good for that, too. Breads and desserts cook well in cast iron skillets, too.
  2. I would recommend that you keep them handy, either on the stove top or in the oven when not in use. Don't stack them or place them under other pans in the bottom of a cabinet. Cast iron pans stacked in closed up cabinets for long periods of time often develop rust rings where one pan is sitting on another. If you do need to stack your pans, put a cloth between them or a pan protector.
  3. Since cast iron distributes heat so well, under normal situations, you don't need to turn a stove burner above a "medium" heat. Always let the pan heat as the burner heats or let the pan heat in the oven as the oven heats. Don't put a cold pan on a hot surface or a hot pan in cold water. Either has the potential to crack or warp the pan. 
  4. The seasoning/carbonizing process needs to continue, so, I would recommend that initially (perhaps a year or so), avoid highly acidic foods in the pans such as tomatoes, wine, and citrus fruits. 
  5. Avoid metal utensils that can scrape and damage a pan’s seasoning. I use a lot of wooden spoons and silicone spatulas that can withstand high heats. See Delia’s post, “Spats & Spoons: What’s Best for Cast Iron?
  6. When you clean them NEVER* use soap as it both breaks down the seasoning and can change the taste of the pan. Clean them with hot water and a good stiff brush. If food is stuck on them, use the kind of scraper that you can get from Pampered Chef for baking stones. Don't worry about sanitary issues in regard to not using soap. Heating a pan on a medium heat will raise the temperature to nearly 350 degrees which is more than twice the temperatures needed to kill any microbes. *Some on our panel of writers will disagree to the NEVER in my first sentence. Once a pan has reached a “mature” seasoning after much use, a mild dishwashing soap will usually not harm it. However, I just prefer cleaning my pans the old fashioned way with a good brush and hot water.
  7. After cleaning a skillet, you need to prepare it for it's next use. Make sure it is dried thoroughly. Sometimes placing it on a still warm burner or in a still warm oven will help with this. After the pan is dry, wipe a thin layer of cooking oil over the entire cooking surface to prepare it for the next use. I use olive oil because I cook primarily with olive oil and it will not turn rancid if left out in the air for long periods of time (of course, if you use your cast iron regularly, there’s no such thing as a “long period of time” ). 
  8. If your pan starts to show signs of rust, significant loss of seasoning, or gives off a metallic taste in your food, it needs to be re-seasoned.

This may sound like your pans will require a lot of high maintenance, but not really. All of this becomes simply routine. Most modern pans wear out, but cast iron is designed to last beyond an entire lifetime. There's no reason that with the proper care, you wouldn't be able to pass these pans on to your children or grandchildren years from now

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