Cast Iron Cooking

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There is nothing more reliable, long lasting and rugged than a cast iron frying pan. Everyone needs one, you may have inherited your grandmothers or just recently purchased one, if taken care of, this pan will last a lifetime and beyond! Cast iron pans are often not used because there seem to be many rules when it comes to cast iron cooking. They are making a comeback, so if you don’t have one you need to dig around grandmas or order one up. They are making such a comeback that we are hosting the First Ever Cast Iron Cook-Off at this year’s Lenoir County Fair, for rules and regulations go to the Fair website.

There are some hard and fast rules for taking care of your treasured cast iron pan.

Of course your heirloom pans are probably already seasoned, but you can purchase a new one that says pre-seasoned, still before cooking rinse and dry, heat it up on the stove and blot with oil gently, cool dry and repeat this process.

Never ever put the pan in the dishwasher or use bleach, however you can use a mild soap to clean the pan.

Often the cast iron pan will begin to look dry, but it generally doesn’t need more than a teaspoon or less of additional oil.

Cast iron is not non-stick, over time you may see black flakes, it is not metal, it’s a polymerized fat, means you may be over oiling.

Avoid anything too abrasive for cleaning but if a scrubbing is necessary use a soft vegetable brush, it is okay to use a soft metal scrubber if necessary.

Always store dry, and if you have any question about moisture getting to it, layer a paper towel in the bottom. Moisture can cause rust and rust is BAD!!!

Always start with a warm or hot pan, never cold. But pre-heat slowly.

Here are some recipes to give a try!!!

Fruit Cobbler


  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup reduced-fat milk
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 ripe but firm peaches, (about 1 pound), pitted and sliced into eighths, or 3½ cups frozen
  • 2 cups (1 pint) fresh or frozen blueberries


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Place butter and oil in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet or a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Heat in the oven until melted and fragrant, 5 to 7 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, combine flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Add milk, sugar, and vanilla; stir to combine. Add the melted butter mixture to the batter and stir to combine. Pour the batter into the hot pan. Spoon peaches and blueberries evenly over the batter.
  3. Return the pan to the oven and bake until the top of the cobbler is browned and the batter around the fruit is completely set, 50 minutes to 1 hour. Remove to a wire rack to cool for at least 15 minutes. Serve warm.

Serves 10. Each serving contains Calories 196, Fat 9 g, Fiber 3 g, Carbohydrates 29 g, Protein 3 g, Cholesterol 11 mg, Sodium 202 mg.

Chicken Skillet Ratatouille

(Adapted from a Rachel Ray recipe)


  • 3 lbs. chicken tenders cooked and shredded
  • 2 tablespoons EVOO
  • 1 small eggplant (about 10 oz.), peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
  • 1 yellow bell pepper – stemmed, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 small zucchini – trimmed, quartered lengthwise and sliced crosswise 1/2-inch thick
  • 1 28 ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, drained and chopped
  • 1/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • Finely grated pecorino-Romano, for serving


  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in the pan, add the eggplant to the pan and cook until soft, about 5 minutes; transfer to a bowl. Add the remaining 1 tbsp. olive oil, the bell pepper, and onion; cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Add the zucchini, season, and cook, stirring occasionally, until zucchini begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and reserved eggplant, then spread the shredded chicken, in the vegetable mixture.
  2. Cover and bring to a brisk simmer. Reduce heat to low and simmer gently, partially covered, until the vegetables are very soft and the thigh meat pulls apart easily from the bone, about 45 minutes.
  3. Serve with the grated cheese.

Chili Casserole with Cornbread Topping


  • 4 tablespoons canola oil, divided
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 pound lean ground pork (see Tip)
  • 2 cups diced zucchini
  • ½ teaspoon salt, divided
  • ½ teaspoon ground pepper, divided
  • 2 cups corn kernels, fresh or frozen (thawed)
  • 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1½ cups stone-ground cornmeal
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup buttermilk


  1. Preheat oven to 400° F.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and chili powder; cook, stirring, until starting to soften, about 2 minutes. Add pork, zucchini and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper and cook, stirring often, until the pork is no longer pink, 4 to 5 minutes. Add corn and tomatoes with their juice and cook until heated through, 3 to 4 minutes more. Remove from heat.
  3. Meanwhile, whisk cornmeal, baking powder and the remaining ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Whisk egg, buttermilk and the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in another bowl. Stir the buttermilk mixture into the cornmeal mixture until combined. Spread the batter over the pork and vegetables. Transfer the pan to the oven. Bake until the cornbread is just cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes.
  4. Depending on your supermarket, it might be hard to find a lean option for ground pork. But it’s easy to make your own in a food processor. Choose a lean cut, such as loin or tenderloin. Cut into pieces and then pulse in a food processor until uniformly ground (being careful not to over process, turning the meat into mush). Or ask your butcher to grind it for you. Using lean pork instead of regular ground pork saves up to 164 calories and 5 grams of saturated fat per 3 ounces of cooked meat.

Serves 5. Each 1 ½ cup serving contains Calories 490, Fat 21 g, Fiber 8 g, Carbohydrates 55 g, Protein 28 g, Cholesterol 92 mg, Sodium 749 mg.