It’s hot! And once it gets hot, it stays hot. Oh, did you think I was talking about our weather? I’m actually talking about cast iron pans.
My husband’s grandparents were cast iron pan people. They cooked almost everything in their cast iron skillets including meats, beans, eggs, cakes and cornbread. Skillets included an 8-inch, 10-inch, and 12-inch along with a lidded Dutch oven. They had all sizes and shapes.
In all these years of married life and child raising, I had never cooked with a cast iron skillet, never mind owned one. But that all changed this past Christmas. I had put a cast iron pan on my “wish list” and received it as a gift from my husband and kids.
Thanks to the popularity of cooking shows, celebrity chefs and bloggers that have sung the praises of cast iron, it has enjoyed a comeback in the cookware market. In the “everything old is new again” vein, the renewed interest in traditional cooking methods has exposed people to cast iron cookware.
Cooking in cast iron has been around for centuries, but the flat-bottomed cast iron skillet came into use in the late 19th century when cooking stoves, rather than cooking over a fire, became popular. In the early half of the 20th century, cast iron was in high demand as cheap and durable cookware.
But then along came flashy Teflon in the 60s and 70s and the new-fangled non-stick pans became the must-have item. Cast iron fell out of favor and by the end of the 20th century every U.S. manufacturer of cast iron cookware was gone except for one, Lodge Manufacturing. My 12-inch cast iron skillet is made by Lodge.
Once you learn the basics of cast iron cooking, you will discover that your pan is a kitchen workhorse and nearly indestructible. And for quick recipes like the one featured this week, it is easier to use a cast iron skillet on the stovetop than to fire up the barbeque outside.
During the summer, I grill meals outside or use my cooktop several times a week because I really don’t like turning on my oven unless absolutely necessary. And by necessary, I mean baking fun birthday cakes for the four summer birthdays in my family. But that’s another story for another time.
This week’s recipe comes from Family Circle magazine and is ready in under 30 minutes. It is perfect for those on a gluten-free or keto eating plan and can also be enjoyed by dairy-free and paleo people if you omit the cheese.
The cast iron skillet is great for searing the steak in this recipe. The outsides of the meat will develop a nice char after a quick flip while the inside will stay tender. You’ll find it will take longer to heat the pan than it will to sear the meat. But once the pan gets hot, it stays hot.
- 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 1/2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 1/8 plus 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 plus 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 skirt steak
- 5 ounces baby arugula blend
- 1 small red onion, sliced
- 16 oz. grape tomatoes, halved
- 4 oz. blue cheese, crumbled
To make the dressing, mix together the vinegar, mustard, maple syrup, 1/8 teaspoon of the salt and 1/8 teaspoon of the pepper in a small mason jar or any jar with a lid. Add the olive oil, screw on the lid tightly, and shake until well blended. Set dressing aside.
Heat a cast iron skillet or grill pan on medium-high heat. Season both sides of steak with remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
Brush pan with a little oil, then sear steak on both sides for two to three minutes per side for medium-rare.
Remove steak and place on a cutting board. Let steak rest for five minutes, covered with aluminum foil, then slice steak against the grain into thin strips. Arrange meat over arugula, onion and tomatoes.
Sprinkle with cheese. Drizzle with dressing or serve on the side.