Cast iron pans are da bomb. Serious.
You can use them on the stove top and in the oven. They are cheap. You never have to wash them (well, you shouldn’t use soap which just seems like so much work sometimes…).
Where I go to eat za (besides zero zero and Pizzetta 211) when I don’t make it for myself
I use cast iron pans to fry up eggs, bacon (oink!), steak, and fish. I make taco shells from tortillas in a cast iron pan. And, I use them to make frittatas and deep dish pizza.
I own two. One (about 11 inches in diameter) that can easily cook two New York Strip steaks and is good from making taco shells and other types of shallow frying. My otra fry pan is about 8 inches in diameter. It works great for a making personal pizza or frittata for two.
Go get yourself a cast iron pan or two today. Here are two recipes to get your started for what will surely become a life long love affair with your pan.
Easy Peasy Dumpster Frittata
Ok, unless you are an urban forager (and I have to admit, they sorta annoy me) you probably won’t get your ingredients from a dumpster but the point I am trying to make with the name is that you should only use what you have on hand. There is no need to BUY anything specifically for a frittata. That’s why I love them. I can whip myself up a frittata when it looks like my cupboards and fridge are bare.
And this one is beyond easy. I’m not even sure if you can technically call it a frittata but whatevs…
Equipment and Ingredients:
A small cast iron pan
Enough canola/vegetable oil or bacon grease to coat the bottom and sides of the pan
3 or 4 eggs (depends on how eggy you want it)
A couple of generous tablespoons of milk, ½ & ½, or cream
Salt & pepper to taste
From here, you can add:
- Protein- I’ve used prosciutto, French ham, Mexican chorizo, and bacon. You could also use crisped pancetta, or cut up leftover steak or chicken. Don’t forget to cook the chorizo or bacon prior to adding it to the frittata mixture.
- Vegetables- Last night veggies are a great add to your frittata. Try cooked asparagus, broccoli, mushrooms, chopped haricot vert (French green beans) or fresh baby spinach. My veg drawer was bare last time I made a frittata so I pulled some jarred roasted red bell pepper out of my cupboard and cut it up into strips.
- Carbs- Cooked potatoes, chunks of stale bread, or cooked pasta
- Aromatics/herbs- I like the freshness and mildness of spring onions. You could use chives, herbes de provence (a dried herb mixture), Italian parsley, basil, etc…
- Cheese- Optional, I guess. However, for me formage is never an option, but a necessity. I’ve used feta, gruyere, and plain old skool sharp yellow cheddar.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease your fry pan with either canola or bacon grease. Don’t forget the sides! I sometimes use a paper towel to make sure I get the sides thoroughly coated.
Break the eggs into a small mixing bowl. Add the cow juice of your choice and S&P. Use a fork to gently mix the egg mixture thoroughly (don’t over mix as it will make your eggs tough). Then add in the mix-ins and combine into the eggs.
Pour your egg mixture into the pan and put it in the oven. Cook until the center is just cooked through (should only jiggle ever so slightly, like my tush). It should take about 20 minutes to cook, but depending on your oven it might take longer or shorter, so watch it carefully.
Once it’s set, pull it out of the oven. Get two plates that are the same size or slightly larger than the fry pan. Hold the fry pan in your one hand (make sure you have on an oven mitt). Place one of the plates on top of the fry pan. Now quickly flip your hands so that the fry pan is now on top. Say a quick prayer. Lift the fry pan. Hopefully, you’ll be looking at the bottom of your frittata intact! Place a plate on top of the frittata and flip your hands again. Lift the top plate (which was the bottom plate just a moment ago). Viola! Frittata!
I like to serve it with fruit, salsa, buttered toast, champers and coffee.
Personal Deep Dish Pizza- Animal Style
Why call it animal style? I’m thinking maybe animals would like it cuz it’s full of meat and cooked onions. I dunno.Give a girl a break.
This dish requires you preheat the pan in the oven prior to assembling the pizza. (It’s kinda like using it like a pizza stone.)
Olive oil (doesn’t need to be virgin)
A ball of raw pizza dough (I buy the whole wheat version at Trader Joes). Don’t make dough unless you are trying impress someone….
2 cups of Bolognese (aka meat sauce, sometimes I use a turkey meat version)
Grated Romano cheese
Fresh mozzarella, roughly sliced or torn
Brocollini, Broccoli rabe or Broccoli – I blanch and shock the weeds in boiling water prior to putting them atop the pizza.
Good extra virgin olive oil, fresh basil, red pepper flakes, and parmigano reggiano are all optional (but oh so yummy!)
How to make the pizza:
Place your 8 inch cast iron pan in the oven and preheat to a smokin’ 450 degrees. While your oven and pan are pre-heating, shock and blanch the brocollini.
When your stove and pan are preheated, pull out the pan (use oven mitts or you will be really sorry!!!) and place it on a pot holder.Pour a little olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Take approximately half of the dough and spread it into a circle to fit the bottom of the pan. Important: use your fingers and hands and the weight of the dough to get it to the right size and shape outside of the pan BEFORE placing it in the bottom of the pan. Be careful, the pan will be hot, hot, hot!
Once you’ve arranged the dough in the bottom of the pan, spoon the meat sauce onto the dough. Toss some of the grated romano on top. With a light hand, put some of the sliced mozzarella on top of that. Then arrange the brocollini on the tippy top (TIP: sometimes I cut down the stems of the brocollini to get them to fit the pizza). Using oven mitts, put the za in the oven. Cook for about 20 to 25 minutes. Cheese should be bubbly and turning a wee bit brown around the edges.
Once you pull the pan out of the oven, allow the pizza to cool and set for a few minutes before lifting it out of the pan. Top with a drizzle of olive oil, torn basil, red pepper flakes, and parmigano reggiano to taste.
Deep dish pizza with brocollini and meat sauce