Friday, March 22, 2013

no-mess cast iron seasoning | favorite things friday

Do your cast irons ever look like this?

Mine do.  After I cook in them a while, they begin to lose that beautiful sheen that they had when I first got them.  Or, I'll commit the cardinal sin of cast iron cleaning and accidentally leave leftover food or water in mine for hours (or...ahem...days) after I'm done cooking.  Guilty as charged.

I used to hate seasoning my cast iron because it was such an ordeal and always made such a huge mess.  And it never looked right - there was always a bunch of oil left in my pan.

Fortunately, I've found a new, no-mess way to season my cast iron, and it comes out perfect every time.

Begin by lining your top oven rack with aluminum foil. 

Then, spread lard or solid animal fat liberally over the inside of your skillet.  I went out and bought a bucket of lard for this purpose alone.  I just put a paper towel over my fingers, dip it into the bucket of lard, get out a large amount, and use the paper towel to spread it over the skillet.  My hands stay clean the whole time.

Then...and this is your cast iron upside down on the foil-lined oven rack.

Close the oven door and turn it on to 200 degrees.  Keep it at 200 degrees for an hour, and then turn the oven off.  Keep your cast iron inside for at least another 2 hours or until it has completely cooled.  You want the lard to return to a solid state, so if you see liquid grease on top of the foil, leave it alone.

When your cast iron has cooled, you'll find that the lard has left a lovely sheen of seasoning without gooping up - it just sinks right into the pores of the cast iron.  You'll also find that the remaining lard has solidified on the foil in your oven - just dispose of the foil for easy clean-up!

Do this as often as you need to in order to keep your cast iron looking like new.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

sausage lentil stew

It decided to rain over the weekend, so I felt like eating something warm and hearty.  This soup was the perfect creation for a cloudy day.  It took only 10 minutes to put together, is chock full of healthy ingredients, and filled us up more than I imagined it would.  It is also a slow cooker recipe, which meant that I didn't have to stay in the kitchen all morning tending to it.

The recipe was so simple that I didn't even take step-by-step photos.  So, I hope you enjoy the finished product.  Think of it on your next rainy day!

Sausage Lentil Soup
  • 1 cup dried lentils
  • 14 oz. package turkey Kielbasa, sliced 1/2-inch thick
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 cup carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 baking potato, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 bunch kale (about 1/2 pound), washed, stemmed, and cut into pieces
  • 6 cups beef broth
  • 1 t. parsley
  • 1/2 t. pepper
  • 1/4 t. nutmeg

Sort and wash lentils.  Combine lentils with remaining ingredients in a large slow cooker.  Cover and cook on high setting one hour; reduce heat to low setting and cook 3 hours.  Stir before serving.  Serves 6.

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