My friend and photographer extraordinare, Jim Fletcher (a.k.a. “Fletch”) over at Smokies Light, has asked the existential question, “What is it about cornbread that it only tastes good cooked in cast iron?” I think it has to do with the fact that with a cast iron skillet, you put it in a super hot oven with a smear of oil or if you’re feeling especially decadent a lump of butter and once it is sizzling, pour in the cornbread batter. You know it’s hot enough if tiny bubbles foam up all around the edge. Then you know you’ll have a good crust. With a square or rectangular Pyrex glass pan, there is no way on God’s green earth to get that brown, yumilicious crust.
I have a few classic Le Crueset enamel over cast iron pots. They’re beautiful and have longevity over generations, same as the Lodge cast iron. But lately, somehow, I have turned back to the plain good looks of the black cast iron, and am using it for just about everything.
Tonight, for example:
The coho salmon was seared in the cast iron skillet, moved to our plates, then a mix of balsamic vinegar, red wine, lemon juice and honey reduced to a syrupy consistency in the skillet and was poured on the fish. Another skillet held sauteed spinach with pine nuts. The remaining, smaller cast iron oldy-goldy, grilled sweet red peppers, onions and warmed over almond-turmeric potatoes from the other night.
It’s raining cats outside. The dog is inside, snoring contentedly with a bite of salmon and spinach in her belly. Maggie makes soft hoot hoot owlish sounds for awhile before she begins to snore in earnest. The rain is loud. Buck and I are content in the small bubble of light here in our forest of lovely longleaf pines. Feels like we got hit with the lucky stick.