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One Dish Cooking with Cast Iron

By: Stephanie Foster

One of the great things about cast iron cookware is that it can be used on the stove top and the oven. That can make for less mess as you cook.

Your typical one dish meal includes your vegetables, meat and/or grain all in one dish. Most of them are fairly simple to make. The crockpot is a common way to make one dish meals, but your cast iron cookware can do it too.

For example, consider this shepherd's pie recipe:

1 lb lean ground beef
1 cup beef broth
2 bay leaves
dash thyme leaves
1 cup sliced carrots
1 sliced onion
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup frozen corn

1/2 cup beef broth
1-1/4 tbsp flour
2-3 cups mashed potatoes
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Brown ground beef in large skillet. Drain excess grease. Add 1 cup broth, pepper, bay leaves and thyme. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

Add carrots and onions. Cover and simmer until carrots are slightly tender. Add peas and corn and continue to simmer until all vegetables are cooked.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Combine 1/2 cup broth and flour. Mix until smooth.

Add to beef and vegetables. Simmer until slightly thickened.

Place beef mixture in bottom of casserole dish. Top with mashed potatoes and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Bake 10 minutes.

When I make this recipe, I use my large cast iron skillet and put it into the oven instead of the casserole dish. It works great. If I need something deeper, then a cast iron dutch oven will do the job. The mashed potatoes can be made either from flakes in a bowl, or by microwaving potatoes and mashing them in a bowl. Strictly speaking, I suppose that's a second dish, but it's one that just goes in the dishwasher like the knives and cheese grater, so it doesn't really add to the mess much.

This won't work for every recipe that goes from stove top to oven, of course. If pasta is included, for example, you may need to boil the pasta in a separate pot and then add it to the ingredients you cooked in the cast iron.

It may take just a touch of extra planning to come up with meals that only need one dish, but it can be worth it. Once you have a good recipie, you have something to make whenever you don't feel like dealing with the mess.

It's always a delight to me to cook something that creates less of a mess. Well cared for cast iron is sufficiently nonstick that the cleanup after most recipes is not too bad. I also trust cast iron far more than other nonstick surfaces. I like knowing what might be going into my food.

Author Resource:-> Stephanie Foster runs http://www.buycastironcookware.com/ as a resource for people looking to shop for quality cast iron cookware. Find new and used cast iron skillets at her site.

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