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A Black Iron Haven

Review: The Cast Iron Skillet Cookbook (Part 1)

Posted by Kathy Mansfield

The Cast Iron Skillet Cookbook: Recipes for the Best Pan in Your Kitchen
By Sharon Kramis & Julie Kramis Hearne
2004, Sasquatch Books. ISBN 1570614253

Our household is not only filled with cast iron cookware, but also with a variety of cookbooks specifically aimed at aspiring cast iron chefs. This multi-part review will cover my experiments with six of the recipes from The Cast Iron Skillet Cookbook: Recipes for the Best Pan in Your Kitchen. The book was published in 2004 by Sasquatch Books, and it features six categories of recipes: “Breakfast & Brunch,” “Appetizers,” “Entrées,” “Sides,” “Outdoor Cookery,” and “Desserts.”

The authors, a mother/daughter duo, penned a terrific introduction that tells the history of cast iron cooking through four generations of their family, making for interesting reading. A section on how to care for cast iron is an added bonus that will serve cast iron newbies well.

Recipe #1: Monday Night Meatloaf (Entrées, p. 47)

Cast Iron Required:
  • 10.25” or 12” skillet


Rick and I spent the first 10 years of our marriage avoiding meatloaf like the plague. We both had bad memories of school cafeteria mystery meat concoctions, as well as family experiments with large chunks of bell peppers and onions—vegetables neither of us were fond of. We did eventually find one or two meatloaf recipes we could enjoy, but after reading the ingredient list of “Monday Night Meatloaf” from this cast iron cookbook, I was sure I had found a dish we could make a staple in our meal plans.

What I liked about the recipe:
  • Simple ingredient list
  • Very little prep work
  • Pork combined with beef
  • No bell peppers

What I didn’t like about the recipe:
  • No glaze
  • Ketchup suggested for dipping
I was so pleased with the ease of preparing this meatloaf dish. And, boy, does it make a large loaf! Although the cookbook indicated the dish would leave lots of leftovers, I really had no idea until I formed the loaf in the skillet for cooking.

Ingredients:
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion (about 1 medium-sized onion)
  • 1 cup fresh bread crumbs
  • 1 pound extra-lean ground beef
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons dried Italian herb seasoning
  • Ketchup, for serving

Directions:
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°

In a 10- or 12-inch cast iron skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the chopped onion and cook for 3 minutes.



Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Place all of the remaining ingredients in the bowl with the onions, and mix together with your hands until well blended.



Form into a football-shaped loaf in the same skillet in which you cooked the onions.




Place the skillet in the oven and bake until the center is no longer pink, about 1 hour. Let cool for 10 minutes.



Pour off the excess fat and juices. Slice and serve hot, with ketchup for dipping [we opted not to use Ketchup, although Rick used Country Bob’s on his second helping].

MacGourmet users, click image to download recipe (or simply drag image to your MacGourmet recipe box).


Recipe #2: Horseradish Mashed Potatoes (“Entrées,” p. 51)
This recipe, although listed in the cookbook, is not a featured dish. It is listed as an “accompaniment” to the “Braised Spareribs in Merlot Sauce” (p. 50-51) I plan to make that dish for a later review, but I wanted some sort of mashed potato side for the meatloaf, so I chose to use it this time, too. It does not use cast iron cookware, however.

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds russet or Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 6 tablespoons heavy cream or half-and-half3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons mascarpone or sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon creamy horseradish
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions:
Place the potatoes in a large stockpot with the 1/2 teaspoon salt and enough water to cover.

Bring to a rapid boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until soft: drain. Return the potatoes to the pot and cook over medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes, allowing them to absorb some of the moisture. Reduce the heat to low and shake the potatoes over the heat for 3 minutes. Mash with a potato ricer, using medium-wide holes.

In a small saucepan over low heat, mix together the cream, butter, mascarpone, and horseradish. Cook for 5 minutes. Be careful not to let this mixture come to a boil.

Slowly pour the cream mixture into the potatoes while whipping the potatoes with a fork or a whisk. Mix until light and fluffy. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve hot.

MacGourmet users, click image to download recipe (or simply drag image to your MacGourmet recipe box).

Final Results:



Wow! This meatloaf is definitely a keeper! And, although Rick was wary of the horseradish potatoes, he was pleasantly surprised. I look forward to trying more dishes during the next few weeks. Look for reviews of “Braised Spareribs in Merlot Sauce,” “Slow-Roasted Beef Brisket with Apple Cider-Ginger Barbecue Sauce and Caramelized Sweet Onions,” “Herbed Skillet Bread,” and “Brown Sugar Coffee Cake.” I can’t wait!

You can also follow one of The Cast Iron Skillet’s co-writers, Julie Kramis Hearne on her website, blog and on Twitter.



Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below, or you can contact Kathy directly at kathy@cookingincastiron.com.

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