I love cooking with cast iron. I can remember my first cooking experiences, being just tall enough to turn the chicken in the old cast iron fry pan. I must have been about 7 years old and I remember the sizzle of the floured chicken pieces hitting the hot Crisco and bacon grease (didn’t all moms store bacon grease in a coffee can?) as one of satisfaction. After the chicken was cooked we would drain off the excess oil, leaving a few tablespoons in the pan, and then add a heaping tablespoon of flour into the hot oil, browning it thoroughly and then hitting the pan with cold milk and Lawry’s seasoning salt (it had to be Lawry’s). That was the best chicken fried pan gravy ever.
Unfortunately, when the Teflon craze came out, those old cast iron pans were tossed out in the modernization of my mom’s cooking. Funny as the cast iron pans went out, the processed foods came in, Rice a Roni, Uncle Ben’s Wild Rice and ultimately Hamburger Helper. My mom really like the convenience of Hamburger Helper, she made it probably 2 – 3 times a week when we moved away from the country and back to the city. It was the poor man’s meal and we were pretty darn poor in those days.
I’ve added back a few pieces of cast iron over the years, it’s the only thing I use to sear-off meats and to cook an occasional pork chop or filet. You can get them blazing hot and get such a great sear on the meat that I just don’t think is possible with non-stick. And they are great to roast in, not to mention you can develop some toned arms just handling the heavy things.
I roast a lot of vegetables, roasting brings out the best in the veggies, especially butternut squash, yams, potato, onions, eggplant and peppers. I’ll typically roast a bunch of vegetables on the weekend and then graze off them all week or utilize them in other recipes, quinoa and roasted veggies, or a roasted veggie sandwich or toss them pasta or brown rice. It’s an easy and tasty way to increase your vegetable consumption.
These potatoes have that great crunchy side and then roast in fragrant herbs until tender throughout. And, as cast iron conducts heat so well, they cook nice and even. Serve them up for breakfast or dinner; sometimes it’s the simple things that really are the best.
Cast Iron Roasted Potatoes
Makes 4 servings
- 8 White-Skin Potatoes (two per person) you can also use red potatoes, russets, whatever kind you have on hand. The potatoes I used for this were about 2” rounds.
- Olive oil 3 – 4 Tablespoons
- 1 Tbsp Freshly Minced Sage
- 2 – 6” Sprigs of Fresh Rosemary, Minced (about 1 Tablespoon)
- 6 – 6” Sprigs of Fresh Thyme (about 2-3 Teaspoons)
- Salt and Pepper
Heat oven to 450
Wash potatoes and mince the herbs. Slice the potatoes lengthways.
On the stove top, heat a 10” cast iron skillet on medium high heat. Add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the pan and brush over the bottom, add the potatoes flat-side down. Brush the rounded tops with additional olive oil, then salt and pepper with about ½ teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Cook the potatoes on medium high heat (but don’t let the oil reach the smoking point) until the flat sides are seared and starting to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the fresh herbs and put the whole pan in the hot oven (use oven mitts) as cast iron handles get HOT.
Roast at 450 until fork-tender, about ½ hour.
Remove potatoes from pan, taste and season with additional salt and pepper if desired. Top with any oil and herbs left in the pan. Drizzle with additional olive oil and top with some fresh parsley if desired.