Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Cast Iron

  It's at this time of the year that my love for cast iron grows just a little bit sweeter.  
It says comfort – real food that fills you and warms you on the inside. 

 I started married life with one little cast iron skillet which I rarely used.  I went through numerous non-stick skillets, trying my best not to overheat or scratch them too much.  The overheating part was difficult since I am one of those cooks who uses the “High” setting sometimes too enthusiastically.  Now I mostly use cast iron.  

  My pans actually like being hot!  I can fry thing using the real meaning of the word.  Just because something is in a “frying pan” doesn't mean it is frying.  Meat simmering in its own juices verses frying are two different things.  Cast iron requires a little more attention, but it’s not rocket science – do an internet search on how to care for them if you’re interested. J  

 Onions caramelized in cast iron are a staple in my cooking.  I’ve always loved sautéing onions, but ever since I’ve tasted a Middle Eastern lentil dish made with caramelized onions, I’ve been hooked!  I have a very sweet friend from Syria who is an amazing cook.  Her foods are like nothing I’ve ever made or tasted, and they are delicious!  Once she brought me a plate of lentils covered with caramelized onions layered on top about an inch thick – it didn’t look like anything you would see in an American food magazine, but everyone who tasted it was amazed.  It just melted in your mouth with flavor!

  Ever since tasting those lentils and onions, I’ve tried to replicate it.  And I have started using onions like this in most of my cooking.  It’s an ingredient that adds so much richness and flavor.  There isn’t a pasta recipe that it doesn’t enhance.  Chop it fine and use in in sauces.  Add it to salad dressings (bought or homemade).  Toss with cooked or fried veggies.   Spruce up black beans or garbanzo beans.  Rice dishes love it.  Soups… well, you get the picture! J 

 So here is my little method. 

1.  Chop or slice your onions.
2.  Sauté with some olive oil and salt at medium heat, turning occasionally for even cooking.
3.  Sauté for about 15-20 minutes or until golden brown all over.
4.  I like to add a generous amount of minced garlic about ¾ of the way through cooking.

Since caramelizing onions is a little time consuming, I often cook a big batch of onions with garlic, and then freeze it in ice cube trays.  Then all I need to do is pop a cube or two into what I’m fixing for supper.

Happy Cooking!!!

“So, whether you eat or drink,
or whatever you do,
do all to the glory of God.”
1 Corinthians 10:31

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