Tuesday, August 25, 2009

How to season your cast iron skillet

A properly seasoned cast iron skillet is an excellent culinary tool; for cooking up a shore lunch, sauteing fresh duck breast with a side of eggs for an after hunt brunch, or making a stir fry from the previous post. If you are just purchasing a cast iron frying pan or are restoring an old one, the first thing to be done is to scrub it well with steel wool and hot water to remove any manufacturing film or rust. Once it is thoroughly clean and dry, heat the pan over medium to medium high heat until hot and then rub vegetable (olive is best) oil into the hot pan. Wipe out excess oil. This process may need to be repeated again until a smooth, slick surface is created. You now have a seasoned cast iron pan. An old-fashioned cast iron skillet should not be washed with soap and water because it will rust and not have the "seasoning" that prevents food from sticking. Rather, to clean your cast iron skillet, sprinkle some coarse salt (pretzel salt works great, but any salt will do) and a drop of olive oil in your pan and rub it with a cloth to remove any food and particulates. The salt helps with abrasion and to sanitize. Then heat your pan over medium high heat for a few minutes and wipe the pan out again with a paper towel or clean cloth. You may need to add a few drops more olive oil before heating the pan to create the nice seasoning (this is especially true if you are seasoning a new pan or had been cleaning with water and soap in the past). If you clean your cast iron skillet with salt and oil each time, you will have a natural non-stick fry pan. And yes, you do get extra iron in your diet when using a cast iron skillet!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Dog Days of Summer

August is an excellent time to start cleaning out the freezer. You may have some venison packages tucked in the back, perhaps a duck breast or pheasant buried in the deep freeze. Some of this meat may even have a little freezer burn on an outer edge. But before you decide to cook them up for the pooch, here are some ways to make those lost freezer relics tasty.

First, defrost the meat safely in the refrigerator. Then look for any whitish discoloration along the edges where it may have gotten freezer burn and trim this off.

Stir Fry with Seasonal vegetables (and out of season meat)
1/4 cup soy sauce (low sodium preferably)
1/4 cup sherry or chicken broth (or water if need be)
1 clove minced garlic
1 tsp. ginger
1 Tbsp brown sugar or honey
pinch of red pepper flakes or cayenne to taste
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb. game meat (such as venison steak, duck breast, pheasant or quail) sliced- you may want to tenderize the meat before slicing by pounding it with a meat mallet.
2 Tbsp. flour, seasoned to taste with salt and pepper
2 cups of fresh sliced vegetables, such as carrots, zucchini, sweet peppers, brocoli, greens beans, etc (you can use frozen veggies in a pinch)

In a small bowl mix together the soy sauce, sherry (or chicken broth), garlic, ginger, brown sugar or honey, and red pepper. Set aside. Heat olive oil in a heavy skillet or wok over medium high heat. Dredge the meat in the seasoned flour and put in skillet with hot oil to brown meat. Cook about 3 minutes and then add the vegetables. Cook for another minute or two stirring constantly. Add the soy sauce mix and stir until sauce thickens, 1-3 minutes (if sauce doesn't thicken enough to your liking, you may add 1 Tbsp cornstarch mixed in 1 Tbsp water or chicken broth to the pan). Serve over whole grain rice.