When I brought home my first deep dish cast iron pan, and then later a Dutch oven, my imagination struggled to know how to make use of these massive cooking tools apart from my intended recipe.
I wanted to cook a batch of chili, and I did, but the more I cooked the more I came to rely on big pots to not only make big delicious meals, but simpler things too, like sauces, dips and liquid-heavy recipes.
1. Bolognese. Don’t fear the tomato as you simmer a classic sauce in your cast iron cookware… just make sure you wipe down your cocotte before your dive in for seconds.
2. Alfredo. This widely adored pasta sauce is easier to make than you might imagine, and mixing up a batch in a big cast iron pot means you can add your cooked pasta right into the sauce, stir it up and serve.
3. Gravy. Don’t toss those drippings, and instead add some spice and a thickener to mix up a gravy to go along with your main.
4. Nacho Cheese. Hot and gooey, a blend of cheeses melted together with a bit of chili and spice can lead to an entire cast iron tub of tasty for pouring over or dunking corn chips.
5. Chili. Those afternoon-long slow simmers of a batch of meats, veggies sauces and spices were one of the reasons I bought a Dutch oven in the first place.
6. Soup. Sure, almost any deep pot will cook up a great soup, but a thick-walled cast iron pot like a Dutch oven will make sure even and thorough heating.
7. Stew. Benefiting immeasurably by first browning your meat cubes in a hot cast iron pan, why swap cooking vessels when you can then just add the rest of your potatoes, veggies, spices and stock and make a great stew without losing any flavour at all.
8. Hot Dip. Ground beef, onions, spices and hot cheeses are among the minglers in this one-pot sauce that is amazing with tortilla chips and served right from a cast iron pot where it was cooked.
9. Joes. Sloppy or not, this big pot of flavoured meat was meant to be squeeze into a bun or served on a dish, makes for a great meal or a simple pot-luck delight that will stay warm and tasty in a cast iron pot.
10. Caramel. Not every sauce is savory, and cast iron can be a great tool to caramelize sugar and butter into amazing sauces for ice cream, cakes, or other dessert finishes for your meal.
People like lists. I like people. So I’m giving the people what they like. I ran a blog for 16 years and one of the most popular posts ever on that blog was a list of “100 things” that I’d compiled and posted. I’m trying to recreate something similar over the next couple months for the cast iron guy blog. This post will eventually form part of that mega list.