Thursday, March 01, 2007

Fave Thing #4

"You weren't that fond of it when I first brought it home," said my wife.

No, I guess I wasn't. I thought my instructions had been clear. I was thinking about stir-frying. I'd read an article written by some guy who said American stoves weren't constructed to properly heat a wok. He said anyone with brains knew the best way to stir-fry vegetables or anything was to use a large, flat cast-iron frying pan. He sounded like he knew what he was talking about, so I described the article to my wife and asked if she'd look for one in the discount store on the way back from work.

We'd been married for a month or two.

She phoned me at work to say she'd found a cast-iron pan. It wasn't exactly like I'd described, but she thought we'd use it just the same. Besides, she could always take it back.

"Great," I said. "Buy it."

When we got home, I stared at the chicken-fryer. "That's not really what I had in mind," I said.

"But don't you think we'd use it for other dishes?"

"Well," I said, "it's not really what I had in mind."

"I can take it back," she said. "I just figured we'd use it for other dishes."

There didn't seem to be any good reason to abandon my passive-aggressive strategy just yet. "We probably will," I said. "Let's keep it."

It's become my favorite pot. It is one of two pots we own that gives a dish the sort of character you want in a dish. Two or three times a month I'll roast a chicken in it. When it's done, I'll remove the bird and stir up some schmaltz for the wild rice. Whatever is left on the carcass is used for chicken stock. The chicken stock is used for risotto, which I make in the self-same pan.

The pan is also good for Bourbon n' Beans, and a host of other dishes. It's a great pan. We use it all the time.

As for the stir-fry advice, Mr. Magazine Article Writer didn't know what he was talking about. If you want a good stir-fry, nothing beats the hefty cast-iron wok her sister gave us -- the other indispensible pan in our collection.


Cowtown Pattie said...

Well, hell yeah!

I cannot, no absolutely will not, cook without an iron skillet in my kitchen.

jim said...

That's sweet!

I have a set of cast iron skillets, but none that large. They're great for making cajun blackened whatever. That happens on the backyard grill, too much smoke for the kitchen.

We do have an aluminum pan that's as large but not as deep... don't think I could roast a whole chicken in it, unless it was cut in half. That picture you posted is so inspiring, I just might try it.

Yahmdallah said...

Um, how do you roast a chicken in an iron skillet? Recipe please. That looks yummy.

Whisky Prajer said...

Yahmdallah - I've no idea what sort of difference this makes, but the walls on this sucker are quite high. And it comes with a lid(!) too, making for close to 30 lbs of cast iron, all told. I roast it without the lid (natch) at 400 degrees, 1 hour or so for a five-lb bird. Two or three tablespoons of butter, salt and pepper on top of the bird. Baste it every 15 minutes and Bob's yer uncle.

Whisky Prajer said...

Oh, yeah: 40-clove chicken (dutch oven version) rocks!!

DarkoV said...

I've got a Crueset version of this great pan. Funny thing; it's got the same problem (my view) as the one in your picture. Namely, very short skinny handle. I don;t get it. With the weight of the pan (and the heat it attracts), you'd think some manufacturer out there would have caught on and had a longer handle. It's not as if we're talking about a great deal of added weight or money. I'd certainly fork over an add'l buck or two.
Or maybe I should be doing more wrist curls so I could handle the weight of the pan and its contents.

Your thoughts, WP, or do you have those Popeye forearms and consider this dilemna so un-guylike.

Whisky Prajer said...

DV, that tiny handle is indeed a problem. Even a pair of jug-ears on the pan would be an improvement. As for Popeye, it's worth noting that even though I'm not a south-paw, my left-handed grip is considerably stronger than my right hand. I attribute it to the pan.

Jim said...

That pan of mine that's not nearly high enough has a handle that extends clear into the next county! No jug ear on the other side though. If only it were higher.

Whisky, you roasted that bird with no lid? Hmmmmm... now I really have to try it.

I dream of 40 clove chicken and I do indeed have an uncle Bob.