This is what I want for the holidays: the largest cast iron skillet that can be had for oven-roasting vegetables.

I am no recent convert to the joys of cast iron cooking as the pans pictured above have traveled the world with me for 30+ years. However, I was reminded of the detriments of aluminum while reading Clean last week and want an alternative to parchment paper and the large “roasting” pans in my kitchen cabinets.

In terms of sustainability, reasonably priced cast iron lasts forever and, with a bit of care, provides a stick-free surface for life. Use kosher salt and water to clean and your “seasoned” pan will thank you.

When I was pregnant with Zach, my doctor was shocked that my iron levels kept getting better and better as I had a tendency towards anemia… of course the answer was cast iron cooking.

I am planning a family outing to the Lodge Factory in South Pittsburg, Tennessee and have been dreaming of designing my own pans.  Imagine “Alabama Chanin for Lodge”… mmmm.

Any great recipes for cast iron that I need to try over the holidays? Please comment!

– from page 93 of Alabama Studio Style (definitely not on the Clean plan)

1/2 cup rendered bacon fat, butter, vegetable shortening, or vegetable oil (or a combination)
2 cups yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup buttermilk
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 450° F.  Distribute bacon fat or another grease among 12 individual cups of a cornstick pan or put in a 9″ cast-iron skillet, and place in the hot oven to melt and heat up – about 5 minutes.

While the pan is heating, in a large bowl, mix cornmeal and flour with baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Slowly add buttermilk, and mix just to combine. When grease is hot, carefully remove it from oven and pour all but about 2 teaspoons of it into flour mixture.  Stir the grease into batter, add egg , and stir to combine.  Do not mix this too vigorously, or the bread will be tough.

Pour the mixture into the prepared hot pan, and place in the oven to bake until golden brown, with a crispy crust along the sides – about 25 minutes for cornbread and 15 minutes for corn sticks.  Remove from oven, flip bread or corn sticks out onto a plate, and serve warm with butter.

Maggie loves these hot from the oven with melted butter and topped with honey and they are also great for making stuffing and dressing!


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Click to read 9 comments
  1. Kristin

    My husband and I switched from Calphalon to cast iron a couple of years ago. Cooking and cleaning cast iron is actually a lot easier than dealing with the Teflon stuff. My mom has a cornstick pan like yours, and the images remind me of growing up in Alabama.

  2. Cathy Heffner

    2 recipes for cast iron–

    “BEREAVEMENT PORK” (so named because I got the recipe from the chairwoman of my church’s bereavement committee, often used to feed families the day of the funeral)

    Use iron dutch oven with tight-fitting lid–recipe is for a 3-4 pound roast with a 4 qt. dutch oven.

    Pork loin or pork roast to fit your iron dutch oven
    Ground black pepper
    Duke’s steak sauce (I use the reduced salt one, plenty salty)
    Garlic cloves or garlic powder (optional)

    Rinse and pat dry the loin/roast. Cut slits in the meat and insert garlic cloves, or lightly dust roast with garlic powder. Cover loin/roast thoroughly with black pepper; if it looks like too much, that’s about right. Place in dutch oven and cover with about 1/2 cup of Duke’s for roast; for pork loin, also add 1/2 cup of water.

    Put in 325-degree oven for about 2 hours for pork loin, 3 to 4 hours for pork roast. The drippings make a great au jus.

    Roasted Root Vegetables

    Roughly equal amounts of potatoes, carrots, onions, and turnips to fit your iron roasting pan without being too crowded. Cut in equally sized pieces, salt and pepper to taste. Mince 1 to 2 cloves of garlic and set aside.

    For a 11 x 15 roasting pan, use 2 Tbls butter and 1/4 cup olive oil, adjust accordingly for pan size

    Put iron pan in cold oven, turn oven on to 400 degrees, and preheat pan. Take hot pan, add butter and olive oil until butter melts. (Hot pan–cold oil–food won’t stick.) Add garlic to oil/butter and stir until the garlic scent hits you. Then add in the veggies, stir to coat, spread out in pan, and return to oven. Bake for about an hour until veggies are lightly browned and knife tender.

    (You could also add rosemary, or thyme, or smoked paprika, etc. for variations. Great with roasted meats.)

  3. Molly de vries

    I grew up with cast iron and heath ceramics. My mom would pic up these things Heath ( in the bone yard for a $1.00 a plate and Cast Iron at Garage sales and flea markets. They were humble then and still are in my kitchen, but out in the world at least heath has changed. Cast iron is one of those items that hasn’t change over the years. Although I can’t see if they are still made in the USA. My girls begging me to come off the computer. Does any body know? Cause I want one of those big boys with the lid.

  4. Barbara Kobelt

    Cooks Illustrated has a wonderful Ziti Cast Iron Skillet recipe (10/2007). Being Italian & Greek – I thought it a bit off. It is yummy & easy enough to do on a busy week night. If you can’t find it, let me know and I’ll send it along!

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