Cast Iron

A page in praise of Cast Iron cooking implements.

Ranch cook, early 20th Century, cooking with two dutch ovens. This photo has appeared here before, on a t thread about the speed of cooking.

Introduction.
 
This started off as a thread about dutch ovens, and then I began to collect some photographs of dutch oven cooking which I frankly forgot about.  The thread would have been a bit different than this, but as I don't want to wipe out the old post, I just started building from it, starting with the original post.  I'll add from there.  Or at least I think I will, as I get time.

So, a thread that features cooking with cast iron, and which hopes to address all the myths that get attached to it, and indeed, they are many.

So, in no apparent order, some Cast Iron cooking entries, comments, and tirades.  And, as we add text, we'll add it up here.

So, in other words, this will be more confusing than normal.

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Cast Iron Cooking

Now, that's the real point of it, isn't it.  People may argue about this or that, but the point is cast irons unsurpassed utility.  Let's take a look at some examples.
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Dutch Ovens as Frying Pans

Cast iron dutch ovens are absolutely great.  They are the one and only cooking implement you actually really need.  If you had to dispense with everything else, you could get buy with a dutch oven.  They do everything.

I have two dutch ovens, both the same size.  My oldest one is at least 25 years old, maybe older.  I use them for a lot more than backing, including using them as deep frying pans.


Dutch oven being used as a frying pan, with green peppers, onions and venison, cooked on an outdoor gas range.  Seasoned with seasoning salt, a great easy meal

They make a great frying pan of the high walled variety, much like that high walled type of frying pan called a "chicken fryer".  Indeed, in the country of their origin, the Netherlands, a type of evolved dutch oven, the bread pan, is mostly used as a frying pan.

Potatoes with skin on, being fried in a dutch oven.
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Dutch Ovens as Pie Tins.
Dutch ovens also make a fine pie tin, and make for excellent pies, if you adjust your cooking time properly. And by properly, we mean double the time.

Clean dutch oven, about to be used as a pie tin.

Pie crust in dutch oven.

Apples in pie shell, prepared in accordance with the recipe found in Patrick McManus' book, Watchyougot Stew.  Bottle of Wyoming Whiskey in the background, for the secret ingredient.
Secret ingredient being poured in, 1.5 shot   Why Wyoming Whiskey?  Well, nobody here likes bourbon and the secret recipe calls for whiskey. We've always used Irish whiskey, but as we had this, and nobody likes bourbon, we used it.
Pie crust on top of pie.


Three slices, because, as Mr. Nighlinger allows in the Cowboys, you need two for steam, and one "because your Momma did it that way."

 
Finished pie.
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Dutch Oven as Casserole Dish for Cobbler

In some English speaking countries, dutch ovens are called casserole dishes, and they can be used for a similar purpose.  Here we have a cast iron enameled dutch oven used in that fashion for what we call an apple cobbler, but which is probably more correctly something else.


Bread bottom, prepared to the Bisquick shortbread recipe, but omitting the sugar.

Bread filling in bottom of pan.

Apple mixture on top of shortbread dough, made exactly to the same recipe as the pie filling.

Shortbread topping, covering apples.

Nearly finished.

Finished cobbler.

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Backing Biscuits in a Dutch Oven

Not surprisingly, they also make a great oven for cooking bread and biscuits, or in a campfire.

 Dutch oven biscuits.

Bread being placed in dutch oven. Sheepherders bread, which is a simple soda bread, is cooked in this fashion and is very good.

All of the text above was originally posted on October 2, 2014

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German Rye Soda Bread (Brotbacken) from The Joy of Field Rations

This was originally a post on the main part of the thread, and I'm sure it's still there.  Anyhow, here's an example of a dutch oven being used as a bread pan.
 

I really like rye bread, but I've had a hard time finding a recipe for it.  Indeed, I've had a really hard time finding rye flour for that matter.
Some time ago I managed to find rye flour at "Natural Grocers" and  tried making rye bread in the bread machine.  It was a flop. So when I found a recipe for German army rye bread on The Joy of Field Rations blog, I had to give it a try.

The recipe posted there had two varieties of rye bread.  One was a sourdough bread, and the other a soda bread.  As I don't have the patience for sourdough, I went with the soda bread.  I like soda bread anyway, and occasionally make it with self rising flour.  It's easy to make.

As I lack a Kochgeschirr I just used the Dutch Oven.  It worked fine, and the bread tasted great.  I didn't mix the flour with white flour at all, I just used rye flour.


As is probably evident, mine load was a bit small, and as I probably slightly overcooked it (I was cooking stuffed peppers at the same time), so it does not have the ideal appearance.  Dutch ovens cook very hot on the cast iron, and therefore the bottom of the bread was very crisp, making it a bit hard to cut. And frankly I used a bit more flour than the recipe calls for, as the dough appeared a bit too moist at first.  These problems are easily remedied, and as the bread tasted good, I'll make it again, although next time I'll double the size of the loaf.  Another recipe worth trying.
It's funny that you don't really see that many recipes for rye bread.  I don't know why.  Perhaps my taste here is just a minority taste, and most people don't like it much, although I've seen it in restaurants.  You'd think that somebody would offer it as a bread machine recipe, but nobody does.  I wonder if it was once more common than it is now, or if it's always been sort of a second choice in the US?

Rye itself is a grass, just like wheat, and it does see a variety of uses.  Rye whiskey is one.  I guess at one time Rye Whiskey was regarded as being amongst the very best, and it was quite popular in the US prior to Prohibition.  During Prohibition it came to be associated with being "bad," ironically because it had been so good.  Bootleggers trying to vend their product would attach the tag "Rye" to it hopes of fooling the customer.  That meant that by the end of Prohibition it had a bad reputation, so much so that Bill Mauldin had Joe reporting to Willie that his mother would be pleased as he'd "given up rye whiskey and cheap cigars."  Apparently, however, Rye Whiskey is making a comeback, or so I've read.  I also believe that Scotch and Irish whiskeys may be rye whiskeys.  Some beer is also brewed with rye.

And then there's rye bread. 
From February 15, 2013.
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New Years Day Dinner, Casper (antelope) Cheese Steaks.

A person reading this so far might wonder if I have any cast iron frying pans.  Well, I do indeed, and here you'll see most of them in use.  Two small ones, frying onions and hot peppers, and two large ones, frying antelope steaks and bell peppers. These were the basic constituents for Philly Cheese Steak, Wyoming style. 


The first time, I think, I've had all four of my cast iron pans in use simultaneously.

I must have originally also had photos of how to complete this, which involved toasting hoagie buns and then finishing things off in the oven.  No cast iron there, however.
Originally posted on January 2, 1917.
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From the Garden to the Pan

The main part of this site has quite a few texts on gardening and agrarian topics.  Intentionally or not, this amounts to a little propaganda on the subject.



 Dutch oven in use as a deep frying pan.

 Small cast iron frying pan frying onions

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The Pot Roast

No doubt the "pot" for post roasts, originally,  was a dutch oven.


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From the stream to the grill.

This fishing themed post was originally on the main page as sort of a stream to plate type of post. 


This is a cast iron, Hibachi, grill.  It's great.

Corn bread.

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Deer Steak, Peppers, and Onions



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Cobbler and Beef Steak






Added on February 3, 2018

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