Iron Skillets Combine Nostalgia, History and Great Cooking

Cast iron skillets have been used for decades by 5-star chefs and home cooks to make great meals. They're durable, versatile and will last for many years with proper care whether you're cooking in the kitchen with your family or at deer camp with your buddies.

Cast iron skillets have been used for decades by 5-star chefs and home cooks to make great meals. They’re durable, versatile and will last for many years with proper care whether you’re cooking in the kitchen with your family or at deer camp with your buddies. (Screenshot: Lodge Cast Iron)

One of my fondest memories is of going to my great-grandmother’s house on Sunday after church for dinner — we called the noon meal dinner and evening meal supper, as good ol’ Southerners do — and seeing her cooking with her cast iron skillets.

I don’t know how many she had and, unfortunately, was too young to appreciate what was going on. She was in her late 70s then, a widower, and was a whiz in the kitchen with her garden veggies and a fresh chicken. She cooked with real butter, had a big bucket of Reelfoot brand lard and made fine fried chicken, cornbread and all the garden goodies we could stand. I wish I’d paid more attention to how she worked her garden, along with the actual cooking instead of just the eating. But she did grace me with a love of picking chicken bones clean and enjoying the gizzard, thigh and back.

She was older and lived in an older country home. She had a telephone with a party line; I’d try to quietly pick up the receiver and listen to other people talking, but usually would be told by some scornful woman to, “Get off this line! We’re talking!” and I’d hang up, grinnin’ like a possum. After she died, fortunately my uncle was smart enough to get the skillets. I’m unsure how many he has but I’m glad he got them. They’re part of our family heritage and as long as they stay in the family that’s a good thing. Cast iron skillets are touchstones.

Knocking around the Interwebz recently, I ran across The Barn blog on The Back Forty Beer site. This is a brewery in Alabama that began after our hidebound legislators finally got around to allowing sales of draft on tap and beers with more than 6% ABV. Legislators superbly spew platitudes about “creating more jobs” but often throw up roadblocks to small businesses, sometimes due to supposed religious and moral grounds that … ah, I digress. I digress. Fortunately it got done and now we backwoods hillbillies can enjoy tasty craft brews such as those from Back Forty, Yellowhammer, Montgomery Brewing and Red Clay Brewing.

Back Forty’s blog included a cool recipe for Naked Farmhouse Chili that sounds great. It also had a Backstrap Beer Brine Roast that I’m going to try in a couple of weeks. But after seeing the recipe for Shepherd’s Pie, the photo of the cast iron skillet twanged my nostalgia heartstrings. I love reading about folks cooking with cast iron, like this short piece in Bon Appetit.

Lodge Cast Iron is one of the most popular brands for chefs and cooks. They’re based in a tiny town in southeast Tennessee, churn out a ton (heh, pun intended!) of skillets and other cookware, and have a great reputation.

One of the great things about cast iron is that after it’s been seasoned and used, it develops a fantastic coating that is pretty much non-stick. That’s only if you take care of it, though. Scrubbing off “all that bad stuff” with steel wool or grease-removing detergent is a no-no. Every time you cook the cast iron gets better and better. They age gracefully with tender loving care.

If you have a new cast iron skillet or an old one that needs some love, though, take a look at how to appropriately season a skillet in this Lodge video:

If you have a great venison recipe for a cast iron skillet or Dutch oven, we’d love to hear about it. Fire it to us at bigbucks@fwcommunity.com and we’ll take a look.

Here’s a good one from longtime DDH reader Bo Gittleman of south Florida he posed on our old DDH forum food section. Sounds pretty doggone good!

Deer “Satay”
1# deer steak/chops
3 tbl fresh juice of a lime
2 tbl reduces sodium soy sauce
1 tbl asian fish sauce
2 tsp dark brown sugar
2 garlic cloves (minced)
1/2 tsp curry powder
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper 

Cut the meat into strips about 4 inches long by 1 inch wide. Whisk the ingredients in a bowl, add the meat and mix well. Cover and let it sit for 30 minutes. Then put the meat on skewers lengthwise, keep the meat flat and grill ocut meat into strips about 4″ x 1″
Whisk the ingredients in a bowl, add the meat, mix again, cover and let set for 30 mins.

Put them on skewers (try to do it long-ways, and keep the meat flat) and grill away!

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Learn to Make Your Venison Great!

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If you love cooking wild game – or want to learn – this collection will make your mouth water! We’ve put together 7 best-selling cookbooks and guides to turn you into a venison virtuoso.

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