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.
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-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.