Sometimes I sit and wonder why everyone in the world doesn’t own a cast iron skillet. I’ve owned my Lodge 12 inch skillet since March 3, 2015 and use it almost every time I cook. It’s become an extension of my body. It’s strange because at times, I don’t even notice it’s there – I just use it. Not so much as a pan, but more as a tool.
I moved out of my parent’s house about 20 years ago. From the moment I left until today, I’ve purchased a fairly large number of skillets. Oftentimes, I fell for the hype of the non-sticks, only to find the pan sitting in the garbage less than a year after purchase. I still think of one of the more recent failures. The manufacturer (and the reviews) swore up and down that the non-stick coating wouldn’t scratch or come off. Unfortunately, due to the non-stick coating scratching and coming off, I had to ditch it. Such a shame because the idea is good. It’s just that the pans aren’t.
I understand there are certain rules that need to be followed when owning one of these pans. You can’t use metal utensils, the heat has to be just right and you need to wash them a certain way. The problem is, no one cooks and cleans so gently. When people are in the kitchen, they like to take care of business. Caring about a pan is the last thing on their lists of things to accomplish. Also, I’ve found that even when you follow the rules, the non-stick surface eventually sticks. It’s just the way it is.
Cast iron skillets have been around forever. If you ask people who own them what they think about them, they go bonkers. There are so many endorsements that it isn’t even a question about their quality and effectiveness anymore. This is why I wonder why everyone doesn’t have one of these pans. They just make sense. There are even cookbooks committed to their existence. Which brings me to this post…
I own a book called The Lodge Cast Iron Cookbook that is chock full of great recipes that can be prepared with the assistance of a cast iron skillet. It doesn’t need to be a Lodge and it doesn’t even need to be (at times) a skillet. It’s better if you do use this type of pan though because using one will immerse you into a fun way of life.
The best thing about using cast iron is that you can preheat it, fill the pan up and then put the entire ensemble into the oven to bake. The skillet heats evenly and is virtually indestructible. The ingredients cook throughout and what you’re left with is something you’d like to take a photo of to send to friends. This is what happened last night. Last night, I went southern.
The photo above is called a Cornbread Supreme with Shrimp. That’s the name of the recipe that Kay Gay and Helen Hollansworth gave it when they competed at the National Cornbread Cookoff in 2000 and won first place. With this type of street cred, it was a no-brainer whether I would give it a try or not.
This is one sinfully delicious dish. It’s got lots of butter, eggs, cornbread, onion, spinach, shrimp and cheese. Enough for one average sized piece to fill you up. As Laura and I were eating this dish for dinner last night, I kept looking at her as if we were going to get in trouble for something. It’s that good.
8 Large Eggs
Regular Olive Oil
1/2 Cup Whole Milk
1 Stick Salted Butter, Melted
1 Package Cornbread Mix, 12 Ounces
6 Dashes of Hot Sauce
1 Large Sweet Onion, Chopped
1 10-Ounce Package of Frozen Spinach, Thawed
1 Pound Shrimp, Peeled and Cleaned, Chopped
8 Ounces Cheddar Cheese, Shredded
Since everything goes into the oven to bake together, this is a fairly forgiving recipe. You can use broccoli instead of, or along with, the spinach. You can use whatever type of cheese you like as well, as long as it doesn’t brown too quickly.
Prep the Ingredients
Before you begin anything, be sure you thaw out the frozen spinach and shred the cheese. Also, if you purchased frozen shrimp, thaw and rinse them as well. Then, coarsely chop them. Chop the onion too.
Pre-Heat the Oven
At this point, go ahead and pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees. Also, center one of the racks.
Prepare Egg Mixture
Add the eggs and milk to a large bowl. Beat these ingredients together. Then, add the butter, hot sauce and the cornbread mix. Stir until everything is combined well.
Prepare the Batter
In the same bowl, add the onion, spinach, shrimp and 3/4 of the cheese. Mix well.
Pre-Heat the Skillet
When the oven is to temperature, add one tablespoon of regular olive oil to it and place the empty pan in the oven. Let the pan warm up for about 5 minutes and then carefully remove it from the oven and place on your stove top.
Add Batter to Skillet
Carefully add the entire bowl of batter to the hot skillet. Sprinkle the remaining cheese evenly across the top of the batter.
Cook the Cornbread
Add the skillet back into the oven and let cook between 30 and 40 minutes. You’ll know it’s finished when you see the cheddar cheese begin to brown on top. When that happens, remove the skillet from the oven and let everything cool for at least 5 minutes before cutting and serving.
The Final Dish
I’m still thinking about this dish. We have enough leftover for two more nights. It’s rich and extraordinarily tasty. It’s also true southern, which makes it all the more better.