I PICKED UP a couple of cast iron skillets so I could cook dinner over an open fire during our next camping trip. But the trip hasn’t happened yet because of the rain, so I decided to use the cast iron skillets to cook at home.
We visited friends recently at their place on Highland Lake where we had incredible steaks cooked on a griddle on a gas grill. Our host told us it’s the only way he ever cooks his steaks and I was eager to try the technique at home.
Some of the griddles you can buy for a grill can be a little pricey, so when I was shopping for cast iron skillets I realized a large one would do the same things at a fraction of the cost.
Most cast iron skillets come pre-seasoned and ready to go, so all I needed to do was wipe the skillet with a little oil, grab my favorite steak — which happens to be a Porterhouse — add seasoning and get cooking.
Because cast iron cookware retains heat so well, you can get a great sear on your meat. Another nice thing about using a skillet on the grill is that the fat doesn’t drip down through the grill grates and the meat stays nice and juicy.
Cast iron skillets are also great to use in the oven. If you don’t have a pizza stone at home, use a cast iron skillet instead. It’s also an excellent choice for baking bread (Just remember to line the skillet with parchment paper). I used my smaller skillet to make an apple puff pancake. The recipe, a favorite of my kids, has just a few simple ingredients and it’s a cinch to make.
Deep Dish Skillet Pizza
3 tablespoons butter, chilled
1 store-bought fresh pizza dough
3/4 cup shallots, chopped
1 1/2 cups mushrooms, such as baby bella, sliced
14.5-ounce can pizza sauce, such as Don Pepino
2 cups rustic-cut provolone mozzarella cheese mixture
1 heirloom tomato, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons fresh basil, sliced
Generously grease the sides and bottom of a 10- to 12-inch cast iron skillet with butter.
Stretch the pizza dough so it’s slightly larger than the pan (when the dough is set in the skillet the edges should be draping slightly over the skillet.) Gently press the dough into the bottom and sides of the skillet.
Spread shallots and mushrooms in an even layer on the dough. Spoon the sauce evenly over the mushrooms and shallots. Sprinkle the cheese over the sauce in an even layer.
Gently fold the dough toward the inside of the pizza and press along the sides of the skillet.
Top cheese with tomatoes and season with salt and pepper.
Set the skillet in an oven heated to 475 degrees and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is melted and starting to brown.
Top with fresh basil before serving.
Apple Puff Pancake
1 cup whole milk
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2/3 cup flour
4 tablespoons butter
2 apples, such as honey crisp, peeled, cored and sliced thin
2 tablespoons brown sugar
In a large bowl, whisk together milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla, salt and cinnamon. Add flour and whisk until smooth.
Put butter in a 12-inch cast iron skillet and set in an oven preheated to 425 degrees until the butter melts, then remove from oven.
Arrange apples in an even layer in the skillet and return to the oven. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until the apples have softened and are beginning to brown.
Remove from oven and top with brown sugar. Pour the batter on top and return the skillet to the oven. Bake until the batter is puffed up and slightly browned, about 20 minutes.
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 porterhouse steaks, about 1 1/2 pounds each, at room temperature
1 tablespoon Montreal steak seasoning (or steak seasoning of your choice)
1 pound fingerling potatoes
1 leek, sliced thin
6 to 8 mini sweet peppers
1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3 tablespoons butter
Season the steaks with steak seasoning and set aside.
Add one tablespoon of the olive oil to a large cast iron skillet (I used a 15-inch skillet). Use a paper towel to wipe the oil around the skillet until well coated.
Set the skillet on a grill heated to about 450 degrees and let the skillet warm up for 5 to 7 minutes.
While the skillet is heating, add the potatoes, peppers and leeks to a large bowl. Add the remaining olive oil and toss gently. Season with Kosher salt and pepper and toss to distribute seasoning.
When the skillet is heated, add butter and set the steaks in the skillet.
Add the vegetable mixture to the remaining open spots on the skillet.
Cook the steaks for about 4 minutes, then turn the steaks over and cook for an additional 4 minutes. When you turn the steaks, stir the vegetables.
Use a meat thermometer and check the internal temperature of the steaks (140 to 145 degrees for medium-rare).
Remove the steaks from the skillet and allow them to rest for about 5 minutes. Cook the potatoes in the skillet until they are fork-tender.
Remove from skillet and serve.