More Than a Flash in the Pan

7 Jun

When I moved back to Chicago after working in Alabama as a food editor for Southern Living magazine, I had a new favorite piece of cooking equipment.  Now I know some of you are thinking it must be a very specialized, unique item that you can only find in the specialty housewares stores or on the foodie circuit. Not—-it is the cast iron skillet. Sure we had one as I was growing up that my grandmother aka Gonga used to cook certain foods.  My Mom still uses her mother’s cast iron skillet, and I’ve acquired a couple of my own.  Years ago I borrowed one from my neighbor with Louisiana roots—it was big and deeper than any our family had and she graciously let me keep it.

Back in the day all the kitchens had a cast iron skillet, but some folks discarded these kitchen gems because they considered them old-fashioned. “Everything old is new again,” and today that heavy ebony-colored, cookware is hot. If you’d like a chance to win a new cast-iron skillet, answer the question at the end of this post.  This cookware is sizzling for a number of reasons—it conducts heat well, the well-seasoned surface is non-stick, it can easily go from stove-top to oven, you can cook with less oil, and it can boost the iron in foods that are prepared in it. It is one of the most versatile housewares in the kitchen cabinet.

Cast iron skillets can be used to sauté, bake, fry, or roast. I have three skillets that are on a regular rotation in my kitchen, depending on what’s cooking.  This week I pan-fried fresh Walleyed Pike.

If you’re new to cooking with cast-iron the Cast Iron Nation cookbook has tips on how to use the cookware and more than 150 recipes. The book was compiled by Lodge manufacturing; they’ve been casting the (indispensable) cookware for more than 100 years. Lodge is the only domestic manufacturer of cast-iron cookware.Cast Iron Pkg June 7 2014 021 (2)

To enter the giveaway, answer today’s question—What’s your favorite food to cook in cast-iron?   Leave your answer in the comment box below at the end of the recipe. You could be the winner of a copy of the book, cast-iron skillet, apron and pot holder that my friends at Lodge shared with ChowChow & Soul™.  (The Giveaway is not closed. Winners will be announced on this blog on Monday June 16, 2014)

Pan Fry WallEye Pike in cast iron skillet

Could not resist fresh seafood–WallEye Pike was the best.




Pan-Fried Walleye Pike

1/4 cup corn meal

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1 lb. fresh walleyed pike fillets

2 tablespoons canola oil

1 Tablespoon butter

Combine corn meal and seasonings; mixing until thoroughly blended. Using paper towels, pat fillets dry. In reseasable plastic bag combine half of cornmeal mixture and half of fish, shaking until fish is well coated. Repeat with cornmeal mixture and fish.

In cast iron skillet combine oil and butter, heating over medium heat until oil is hot. Place fish skin-side down in hot oil and cook 3 to 4 minutes or until golden brown. Turn fish over. Continue cooking 3 to 4 minutes until golden brown and fish flakes easily with a fork. Remove from pan; drain on paper towels. Serve with lemon wedges.

NOTE: Is the oil hot enough? A drop or two of water will sizzle when sprinkled in the oil.

28 Responses to “More Than a Flash in the Pan”

  1. Sonya Lewis June 14, 2014 at 21:29 #

    Love.everything sauteed with olive or.coconut oil in cast iron skillet. Some of my faves are.brussel sprouts with.bacon, asian stir fry and catfisg

    • chicagolyn June 15, 2014 at 13:38 #

      Looking forward to doing the Brussels sprouts.

  2. Sonya Lewis June 14, 2014 at 21:25 #

    Love everything sauteed with olive or coconut oil and garlic in cast iron skillet. some of my faves are brussel sprouts and bacon, catfish.and asian stir fry

    • chicagolyn June 15, 2014 at 13:37 #

      Thanks so much Sonya. Love your faves–you added some now ones to the list.

  3. Virginia June 13, 2014 at 08:43 #

    Believe it or not, sauce for pasta. I brown the meat and saute the veggies, (drain if necessary depend or if I’ve used, groud beef, pork sausage or groud turkey) and then add the sauce. The longer it simmers, the better it seems to taste.

    • chicagolyn June 13, 2014 at 11:19 #

      Thanks for sharing. I can see that you are about keeping the dishes down. As you know cast iron lets you use one pan for a lot of things.

  4. Kisa June 12, 2014 at 14:28 #

    My favorite food to make in a cast iron skillet was definitely cornbread. Something about how it cooks up a nice golden brown crust. Phenomenal! It’s also great for sauteing. I remember very well sauteing the vegetables to make dressing during the holidays. I just remembered I haven’t had a cast iron skillet since! I would through away all my pans for a cast iron skillet!

    • chicagolyn June 13, 2014 at 11:16 #

      Thanks for sharing Kisa. You are in the hopper for the Giveaway!

  5. Patricia June 12, 2014 at 13:51 #

    I love to cook bacon and then the eggs in the grease. Then, for dinner, a good old-fashioned Grandmom’s ‘meatloaf style’ hamburger — crispy on the outside.

    • chicagolyn June 13, 2014 at 11:16 #

      Thanks so much Patricia. I love seeing the variety foods people are making in their pans.

  6. lauree June 11, 2014 at 07:30 #

    it is hard to say my favorite because i use one of my cast iron skillets almost every day. i guess cornbread…no other pan makes the crust so perfect.

    • chicagolyn June 12, 2014 at 01:55 #

      Thanks for sharing Lauren. Glad to know you use your pans regularly. Sounds like a lot of good cornbread is happening in your kitchen.

    • chicagolyn June 12, 2014 at 01:56 #

      Oops so sorry LAUREE for mispelling your name. Charla

  7. Paula M. Grantt June 10, 2014 at 18:28 #

    My favorite foods are fried chicken, cornbread and Ho Cake (Top of the stove biscuit).


    • chicagolyn June 11, 2014 at 06:03 #

      Thanks Paula. You’re the first to mention fried chicken! Great additions to the list of favorites.

  8. jackie S. Storey June 9, 2014 at 13:17 #

    corrections: my favorite food to cook in the cast iron skillet is totu, it browns evenly in the skillet.

  9. jackie S. Storey June 9, 2014 at 13:08 #

    my favorite food to good in the cast iron skillet is “hot-water” cornbread.

    • chicagolyn June 10, 2014 at 12:43 #

      Thanks Jackie for sharing your faves.Love the tip for browning tofu–I thin that is one that folks may not know about.

  10. Rita Lewis June 9, 2014 at 13:07 #

    I just cooked some greens and am in dire need of a cast iron skillet to make some cornbread.

    • chicagolyn June 10, 2014 at 12:41 #

      Thanks Rita, your name is in the hopper. Looking forward to the potluck you shared.

  11. Heidi Church June 8, 2014 at 09:32 #

    My husband swears by cast iron. I am not used to cooking with it but am trying to use it more (we own 4 pans). Definitely going to try this recipe!

    • chicagolyn June 8, 2014 at 19:13 #

      Thanks Heidi–it is great to reheat, bake, and . . .As you can tell I am enthusiastic about cast iron. Appreciate your comments, you are in the hopper for the giveaway.

  12. Alexis Barton June 7, 2014 at 18:13 #

    My favorite thing to cook in a cast iron skillet is cornbread! There’s nothing like using a cast iron skillet that has been well-seasoned/broken in!

    • chicagolyn June 7, 2014 at 20:20 #

      Thanks Alexis. I love cooking in them. Stay tuned for more cast iron favorites.

  13. shelly walker June 7, 2014 at 14:56 #

    Hot water corn bread 😉

    • chicagolyn June 7, 2014 at 20:19 #

      Thanks for leaving your answer Shelly. Looking forward to trying that recipe.

  14. Nancy ODonnell June 7, 2014 at 11:35 #

    My favorite food is dry rubbed ribeye steak. Bring pan to hot hot temp and then sear on both sides. I hope I win the prize so I can cook more on Lodge cast iron

    • chicagolyn June 7, 2014 at 20:24 #

      Thanks for sharing Nancy. Your name is right in the hopper for the giveaway.

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