(McIlhenny Company) (McIlhenny Company)
A Black Iron Haven

Slow Cooker to Dutch Oven Conversion

Posted by Rick Mansfield

Slow cookers are wonderful things. Of course where I grew up, we simply called them “Crock Pots.” But since that’s a trademarked brand name, they are usually referred to as “slow cookers” when speaking of the devices generically. They are great for cooking an entire meal by planning a few hours ahead. Just throw in the ingredients, set the temperature, and let it go. However, as any cast iron aficionado will understand, sometimes you just prefer to break out the black iron.

And as any experienced cast iron cook knows, you don’t really need special cookbooks geared to cast iron cookware--although they are certainly nice to have. In reality, most recipes (with a few exceptions) can be cooked in cast iron. This is especially true of slow cooker recipes since a slow cooker is really nothing more than an electric dutch oven if you think about it. However, some conversion of cooking time is required.

Last summer, Kathleen Purvis of The Charlotte Observer wrote an article (no direct link remaining to my knowledge) on this exact subject that I saw reprinted in a number of papers around the country. To convert from cooking times from a slow cooker to a dutch oven, she offered this basic principle:

A recipe that is cooked on the low setting in your slow cooker will take about a quarter as long in a Dutch oven in a 325-degree oven (if it cooks for 8 hours on low, it will take two to three hours in the Dutch oven). A recipe that is cooked on high setting will take about half as long. But remember, that's only an estimate, so leave yourself a little extra time.

Although the math is pretty straightforward, I thought that some of you might appreciate a quick cheat sheet, so I created one based upon Kathleen Purvis’ suggestions:

12 hours/Low
3 hours/325° F
10 hours/Low
2 1/2 hours/325° F
8 hours/Low
2 hours/325° F
6 hours/Low
1 1/2 hours/325° F
5 hours/Low
1 hour, 15 min./325° F
4 hours/Low
1 hour/325° F
4 hours/High
2 hours/325° F
3 hours/Low
45 min./325° F
3 hours/High
1 1/2 hours/325° F
2 hours/Low
30 min./325° F
2 hours/High
1 hour/325° F
1 hour/Low
15 min./325° F
1 hour/High
30 min./325° F

None of the above times will be exact, so pay attention to the food cooking in your dutch oven that you don’t undercook it or overcook it. Kathleen Purvis also suggests adding more liquid to food cooked in dutch ovens because she says that more steam escapes from them than from a slow cooker. However, my experience has been just the opposite--the heavy lid of a dutch oven will sometimes hold in too much moisture. But your experience may vary, so be sure to watch out for this.

Finally, what about the obvious advantage that slow cookers have over dutch ovens when it comes to portability? Taking food in a dutch oven to the church potluck may not stay warm as long without the added heating element. Well, there is a solution for this; you can simply use a portable single burner such as the one from GE pictured below:

These single burners run a little less than $20 and can be used in the kitchen as an extra burner or even while camping (assuming you have access to electricity). Don’t expect them to get as hot as a burner on a stove, but they function well to keep things warm to hot, much like a slow cooker.

Earlier this week, we had about 15 people over to the house for dinner, and I needed to make room on the stove. As part of the meal, we were having Taco Soup. I had made it in advance, and it would have been very appropriate simply to transfer it to a slow cooker since I needed the space on my stovetop. However, I kept the soup in my new red enameled dutch oven I cooked it in, and simply moved it to the counter, sitting it on top of the single burner.

This worked out perfectly, and demonstrates quite well what you can do if you want to show off your cast iron at the next potluck, but keep it warm, too. In fact, as we were getting ready to eat the other night, one of our guests looked at my dutch oven sitting on top of the single burner and asked, “Is that some kind of new fancy Crock Pot?”

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


Range Kleen 12" Inch Deep Fryer Winner


Seafood & Rice

Posted by Rick Mansfield

This recipe was used in our review of the RangeKleen 12” Deep Fryer. It comes from the cookbook, A Skillet Full of Traditional Southern Lodge Cast Iron Recipes & Memories compiled by the Historic Preservation Society of South Pittsburg, Tennessee.

A Skillet Full is one of my favorite cast iron cookbooks, and I’ll post a full review of the book at a later time. I like the book because it uses an icon system to immediately identify what kind of cast iron cookware is needed in a particular recipe. Perhaps only true cast iron aficionados will truly appreciate this, but sometimes I want to make something in a particular cast iron pan. I can take A Skillet Full and scan the pages for an appropriate recipe for that pan.

This particular recipe reminded me of a cajun étouffée. It uses butter and flour, but they aren’t browned as would be necessary in a traditional roux. Therefore, it’s a bit milder than an étouffée.

I selected this recipe because I was looking for something to cook in a deep fryer besides something simply fried in oil. Technically, this recipe could be prepared in any cast iron skillet of at least 10 1/4” in size. However, the advantage of a deep fryer allowed me to stir the ingredients more briskly without worrying about it going over on the sides of the pan.

I also found it interesting that this recipe is called “Seafood & Rice” when it only calls for shrimp. Why not “Shrimp & Rice”? There are no additional notes about adding anything else, but there’s no reason you could not. The shrimp are good alone, but it might be fun to experiment with crab meat, clams, scallops, crawfish, or any combination of them.

The recipe is extremely easy to make and the final result is quite impressive.

  • deep fryer (chicken fryer)

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup celery, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp Tabasco
  • 1 1/2 tbsp flour
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup green onions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • hot cooked rice, enough for six

Put butter in chicken fryer and melt over medium heat. Add onion, celery and bell pepper. Cook 5 minutes, stirring constantly.

Add shrimp, salt, peppers, onion powder, and Tabasco. Cook 5 minutes; then add flour.

Cook 2 more minutes, stirring constantly.

Add water gradually.

Reduce heat to low and cook an additional 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Mix in green onions, parsley, and cook for 3 minutes.

Serve over rice.

Source: A Skillet Full
Mildly modified by Rick Mansfield

Onion, bell pepper and celery cooking in butter.

Cooking with shrimp

After the flour has been added.

Adding in the green onions and parsley.


Finally, over rice.

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


Win a Free 12" Cast Iron Deep Fryer


You could win this RangeKleen Pre-seasoned 12” Deep Fryer. We were sent this deep fryer a while back, and we posted our review earlier in the week. All three of us who reviewed it found the deep fryer to be a very capable and (literally) solid piece of cookware. And now it can be yours simply by leaving a comment below. When we reach at least 50 unique responders in the comments, we will close the contest and hold a drawing from the entries.

Here are the particulars of our contest:

  1. All you have to do to enter the contest is to leave a comment below. You can only enter once. Duplicate entries will be thrown out.
  2. You comment must include your real name and email address. Your email address, however, will not be visible to anyone but us, and we are NOT going to use your email address for any other purpose than to contact you if you win.
  3. Soon after we get a minimum of 50 entrants, we will close the contest. If you’ve entered after we have 50 entrants, but before we provide official notice that the contest is closed, your entry will be counted.
  4. We will post the drawing by video here on and the winner will be contacted shortly thereafter for a mailing address.
  5. Obviously, this contest is not open to the panel members of, their immediate family members, employees of RangeKleen, and their immediate family members.

The RangeKleen 12” Deep Fryer originally sold for $24.99, although similar products sell for a much higher price. As mentioned in our earlier review, this particular deep fryer is no longer in production; however, you can view RangeKleen’s current lineup of cast iron cookware at their website.



Review: Country Bob's All Purpose Sauce

Posted by Rick Mansfield

Not too long ago, we received two review bottles of Country Bob’s All Purpose Sauce. The label on my bottles read “Steak • Hamburger • Fries • Barbecue.” Visitors to the company website are told that “You can grill, cook, and marinate with it, or put it in your soups, stews, baked beans, and your other favorite dishes.” I’ll admit up front that I just assumed this was just another barbecue sauce I had received (and we all know that of the making of barbecue sauces, there is no end!). Boy, was I wrong.

I’ve jokingly said before that I never met a barbecue sauce I didn’t like. But technically, Country Bob’s All Purpose Sauce is not the same as a regular barbecue sauce. In fact, the company makes a separate product called Country Bob’s Barbecue Sauce (which is not the product reviewed here). But to put the All Purpose Sauce to the test, we decide to use it as a marinade for grilled chicken.

As I opened the bottle, I caught a whiff of the sweet smell of molasses. I had not expected that. I put just a drop of the sauce on my finger and tasted it, and WOW, I knew we were in for something incredible. This was definitely not like any steak sauce, barbecue sauce, or marinade I’d tried before. In fact, Country Bob’s All Purpose Sauce is literally in a category all by itself.

The first thing I did was to heat Country Bob’s sauce in a Lodge cast iron melting pot on top of my cast iron Sportsman's Grill. I wanted to apply the sauce while hot to the chicken breasts to immediately “shock” the outer layer and seal in the natural juices.

We had invited some friends over who also brought their twin four-year-olds. After we set down at the table, everyone marveled at the unique flavor of the chicken. Again, I think everyone expected this to be just another barbecue sauce, but Country Bob’s has its own distinct taste. One of children who is sometimes finicky with new foods, quickly said “More sauce!” So, I retrieved the bottle from outside, and everyone passed it around the table adding more of the sweet sauce to their chicken.

Again, although I now knew that the All Purpose Sauce wasn’t the same as a barbecue sauce, I now wanted to know what it would taste like on pork ribs. So I bought some boneless baby back ribs at the grocery store, and dropped them in a Lodge 5 qt dutch oven and then smothered them with Country Bob’s. I cooked them at a low 250° for two or three hours (see picture above taken after I pulled them from the oven). They were incredible! I don’t know if I can go back to “normal” barbecue ribs again.

There’s no way I can adequately describe how good this sauce is. And I’m not saying that because they sent me two free bottles. Actually, they’ve now made a paying customer out of me. But you can get a free bottle, too. Right now, if you go to Country Bob’s website, there is an offer for a coupon for a FREE bottle of sauce simply for signing up for their email newsletter. While you’re at the site, click on the link for “Retail Locations” to see where your nearest supplier is located. I was very pleased that all of our local stores near us here in Kentucky supply Country Bob’s.

If your stores don’t carry it yet, you can place an order on their website or get a six pack of Country Bob’s All Purpose Sauce at You may be thinking to yourself that could never use six bottles. But that’s only because you haven’t tried it yet!

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


Recent Cast Iron Acquisitions

Posted by Rick Mansfield

I’m not sure how much heavy cast iron affects Santa Claus’ gas mileage on his sleigh, but Kathy and I were very excited to receive a number of new cast iron cookware items for Christmas.

First up is a Lodge Sizzlin’ Chef Platter. My mother-in-law gave me this. I often complain that food gets cold on my plate too quickly. This will be the remedy.

Kathy bought me this Lodge Square Grill Pan. You may have seen this in the pictures of the cast iron on our baker’s rack in an earlier post. Kathy bought it early, but wouldn’t let me use it until Christmas! It will be perfect for steaks this winter when I don’t want to cook outside in the cold on our Sportsman's Grill.

I’ve been wondering for a long time how some of our classic casseroles would cook in cast iron. I’ve experimented with good results using both our skillets and our dutch ovens, but I wanted something more to the size of a traditional casserole pan. Mom gave us this Lodge Color Enamel 4 1/4 Quart Roaster and I can’t wait to use it. However, at thirteen pounds and even heavier when full, using this pan will be a real workout!

The two pictures above show off our new Lodge Enamel 5 qt. Dutch Oven. This will be our first enameled cast iron piece and perfect for foods that traditionally are hard on a cast iron pan’s seasoning, such as chili.

We’re very excited to add to our cast iron cookware. I’m sure you will see these items in pictures of upcoming recipes that we post online. What about you? Did you receive any cast iron recently or for Christmas? Let us know in the comments.

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


Review: RangeKleen 12" Deep Fryer

Note: This review was supposed to have been published months ago. RangeKleen sent us this deep fryer for review purposes and then unforeseen circumstances interrupted our regular posts here on Cooking in Cast Iron (but we’re now back!). Regardless, we want to honor the good faith of RangeKleen in sending us the fryer and offer the review, albeit much later than we intended. Check back in a few days for an opportunity to be part of a drawing for the fryer we were sent.

RangeKleen is a nearly four decades old company that “supplied consumers with top quality Range Replacement Parts.” But recently, like a number of companies recognizing the benefits of cooking in cast iron, they have ventured into cast iron cookware. To put the fryer through it’s paces, three of our writers took turns using the pan. Here are their reviews below.

Kathy: We don’t actually have a deep fryer, and when we occasionally do fry something, I have to use either one of our cast iron skillets (which isn’t deep enough) or a dutch oven (which can sometimes be too deep). I was immediately drawn to the RangeKleen deep fryer, and could think of nothing better for it’s initial use than to fry chicken in the same manner that my mother taught me years ago.

Turning the chicken with tongs helps to hold in the juices.

Rick made delicious milk gravy for the rice. (I have no clue how to make gravy!)

The final meal: Fried chicken, rice, milk gravy, black-eyed peas, cornbread. Yum!

I really liked the heaviness of this skillet. I don’t want to have to hold the handle while I stir things or move food around, and this skillet was just the right weight to allow me to concentrate on the food, not the cookware. The deep sides also allowed me to fry in more oil than what I would in a shallow skillet. This made the chicken much more crispy -- just like it should be!

Rick: Since Kathy used the deep fryer for it’s normal intended use, I decided to do something different. I love the little cast iron cookbook, A Skillet Full, for many reasons including the fact that every recipe includes an icon for what kind of cast iron cookware to use. Looking for recipes that required a deep fryer, I finally settled on a recipe, “Seafood and Rice” (I will post the actual recipe separately in a few days). This dish, which combines shrimp and vegetables served over rice, is very reminiscent of a Cajun entree but with a slightly different character and milder flavor.

Sautéing the onions, celery and bell pepper in butter.

Adding in the shrimp.

Adding in the green onions and parsley

Essentially the final product. Note height of residue on the sides from stirring.

Seafood and Rice in the bowl.

I discovered something similar to what Kathy had enjoyed about the RangeKleen deep fryer: it’s weight kept my left hand free from the handle as I often have to do with a regular skillet. But my real question had to do with the need for a deep fryer to begin with. Although the ingredients would have easily fit into a traditional 10 1/4” cast iron skillet, the advantage of the deep fryer came in the stirring, which I had to do frequently for this recipe. As you can see two pictures up, I needed that extra inch or two for all the stirring. Although this recipe could be done in a regular skillet, it is easier to cook it in a deep fryer such as this one from RangeKleen. Incidentally, the lid to my Lodge 7 qt dutch oven fit the RangeKleen deep fryer perfectly.

JT: For the price, cast iron’s versatility is unmatched in my estimation. The RangeKleen 12” Deep Fryer, like most cast iron cookware works in the oven as well as on the stovetop. We used the RangeKleen pan in the oven for several baked items, and while the pan functions well, the diameter was too large for cakes and bread puddings. The combined ingredients spread out too far making the baked item too thin, and for bread pudding the liquid portion spreads too low allowing the bread to sit too high. This is more a use of the wrong tool for the wrong application than a problem with the pan. For other applications, like potatoes, or sautéing vegetables then finishing them in the oven, the pan will work extremely well.

One of the comfort elements was evident when picking up the pan for the first time. The handle is rounded more than most pans, so there is less edge pressure on the users hand when gripping the handle. This is especially beneficial considering the size and weight of the pan.

From an esthetic standpoint the pan has a rougher texture than most pans, which may be a result of the sand mould used to cast the pan. This doesn’t impact the cooking function of the pan, but does effect the clean up and appearance.

Below are pictures of two variations of bread pudding that JT’s wife, Jenn, made in the RangeKleen Deep Fryer:

A Final Note: [Rick writing here]-- Accompanying the RangeKleen 12” Deep Fryer was a warning not to use it on smooth top ranges. Kathy and I currently have a smooth top range (much to our chagrin), but we decided to use the fryer anyway. The reason for the warning is obvious upon holding the pan: it is heavy and the exterior a bit rough as JT noted above. It could easily put scratches on a flat surface stovetop if it was moved around a good bit. We were both very careful not to move it. And it’s weight kept it from easily being jostled.

Unfortunately, by the time we finally posted this review, this particular pan is no longer in production. But you can find the current RangeKleen selection of cast iron frying pans and dutch ovens at their website.

Click here for all pictures taken of the RangeKleen 12” Deep Fryer in action.

Your comments and questions, as always are welcome.