Chef Donna's Happy Cooking Tips and Recipes!
February 2013

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I love-love-love cooking with cast iron pans! Whenever I fire them up on the stove, I am literally invoking the culinary talents of my ancestors because most of my pans were handed down from my grandmother and mother. I never thought about buying a "new" pan but I was gifted a cute small cast iron server for Christmas. It is black and the label read “pre-seasoned and ready to use”. The goal, however, is to have a non-stick vessel and if the pan is seasoned correctly, food will not stick, I promise!  My good ol' used pans are non-stick - I can even cook eggs on them without scraping. Here are a few tips to help season your cast iron:
  • If you can, buy “used” cast iron at garage sales, estate sales, Goodwill stores, etc. They are already well on-the-way to being completely seasoned, even the rusted ones.
  • To clean and remove rust from cast iron use a paste of vegetable oil and coarse salt, as the salt is a natural abrasive.  Heat the pan with oil, add the salt, and scrub with a paper towel adding more salt as need.  Rinse the pan with hot water, wipe with a clean paper towel, and rub well with a thin film of vegetable oil before storing.
  • Do not use dishwashing soap to clean your cast iron! Each time you cook with your pan, you are seasoning it and the soap will nullify your hard work. Rinse pan with very hot water and wipe with a large wad of coarse paper towels.
  • A large wad of aluminum foil works wonders at removing burnt-on gunk from your pan.
Below 's a recipe that's perfectly suited to season your pan because you'll want to make this dish over and over again. Go ahead, show your pan some love!

Happy Eating,
Chef Donna and the Your Plate or Mine Team


Information Source: whatscookingamerica.net
Chicken Under a Brick with Braised Swiss Chard

Chicken Under a Brick

Adapted by Personal Chef Donna Barrow

approx 60 mins
American
Serves 4-6
INGREDIENTS
  • 1 3-to 4-pound whole chicken (fryer)
  • 2-1/2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, roughly chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Vegetable or olive oil, as needed

PREPARATION INSTRUCTIONS

1.       Rinse the chicken in cold water and pat dry. Split chicken lengthwise in the middle, removing the backbone. Rinse and dry the chicken halves again. Combine the thyme,     rosemary, garlic, and olive oil in a large zip-top bag or mixing bowl. Add the chicken halves. Cover and refrigerate overnight (or for at least 4 hours).
2.       Heat the oven to 450°F. Wrap two bricks in a couple of layers of foil. (If you don't have bricks, use heavy rocks, 2-lb. weights, or another heavy pan weighed down with cans.) Remove the chicken from the refrigerator, let the excess marinade drain off, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Set a large cast-iron or other heavy ovenproof pan over medium-high heat. When hot, add just enough vegetable oil to lightly film the pan. Put the chicken halves, skin side down, in the pan and immediately put a brick on top of each half. Turn the heat to medium and cook (without moving the chicken) until the skin is a deep golden brown (check with a spatula) and the chicken is cooked about halfway through, 20 to 25 minutes.
3.       Remove the bricks, turn the chicken halves over, and put the pan in the hot oven to finish roasting the chicken until a thermometer registers at least 165°F in the thigh portion, another 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from oven and allow chicken to rest on a carving board before slicing. Enjoy!
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