The Iron Skillet

An elderly gentleman several years ago approached me after the death of his wife and I could see that he was carrying  a 10 inch  black cast iron skillet. “ I would like for you to have this skillet, Jeanie”, he said. “ My wife fried many, meals in this skillet including some of the best fried “ taters” you could ever imagine and I know you love to cook and  will  appreciate and take care of it for her. Please use it. That would make her very happy.”
I am  thrilled to tell you that since the day that I received that treasured gift, I have no doubts that I have done his wife proud. Not only has it rewarded my family with some pretty wonderful fried “taters”, but also has been instrumental in producing succulently tender steaks, tasty fried chicken, sausage gravy to die for, and too many pineapple upside down cakes to even count.
Aside from fried potatoes though,  I think my absolute favorite thing is to bake the pineapple upside down cake that I have mentioned. I am including this  recipe for you today.True, you must cut the pieces in pie form when serving , but when you turn that cake out on a flat plate and it’s all round, fluffy, and perfectly browned, you are going to stand back, take a deep sigh of accomplishment, and then experience a slight pain in your arm from continuously patting yourself on the back! The iron skillet definitely does it’s part in producing excellent tasting foods.
Some of these foods include beef and pork roasts which I sear in my skillet before transferring to a crock-pot if I am going to be gone all day, or directly to the oven if I am going to be  home. Searing the meat before roasting not only enhances the taste of the rub itself, but seals the flavorful natural juices inside the roast. 
Cast iron skillets are remarkable tools of the kitchen because of their even heat retention and unique versatility of going from stove top to oven. If taken good care of, they will last your lifetime, and then be ready to be handed down.
There was a cartoon once that suggested the iron skillet as a successful combat tool  against a cheating husband. When an elderly lady was asked the secret to her long marriage she replied, “ An iron skillet.” The gentleman asked, “ Oh, because of all of the wonderful dishes you have made for your husband over the years?” “ No,” she answered matter-of-factly, “ because of it’s ability to make him reconsider adultery.”
Please know that I don’t condone this, but I did laugh!
Caring for a cast iron skillet is quite controversial. Some will tell you to never use dishwashing soap on it, and to only wipe it clean. Others will swear by just  a light wash( not immersed in the water) and a quick hot rinse.  I agree with the latter. (Although sometimes when I  fry something simple, I do just wipe it out with a  paper towel.)  However, I do believe an iron skillet should never, ever go in the dishwasher or be immersed in soapy water. There are several sights on the internet to explain how to season a new ( or badly taken care of) skillet. I  won’t take up the space here, but the information is widely available. My absolute main hint would be this- If you don’t have an iron skillet, buy one. If you have one, USE IT!!
 Although I use a boxed mix for this recipe, the topping is my trademark.Using pineapple chunks rather than slices assures a better distribution of the pineapple. Folks like the difference.
Iron Skillet Pineapple Upside Down Cake
Preheat oven to 350
1 box yellow cake mix ( prepare as directed)
½ stick butter
¾ cup of brown sugar
Drizzle of honey
1 small jar of stemless marchino cherries ( cut in half)
2- 20 oz. cans of pineapple chunks ( drained)
Melt butter on LOW heat in your iron skillet. When completely melted, add brown sugar and a drizzle of honey..Whisk until completely incorporated. Add drained pineapple and allow to brown just a little.( you may have to turn up heat..BUT keep an eye on it) Make sure you even  the pineapple out over the surface of the skillet. Remove from heat. Pour your prepared cake mix on top. Bake according to the box . Check doneness with toothpick. Cool for 15 minutes and then run knife around edges.. Turn out on plate. Drain the cherries and position  over the cake.
When serving add a dollop of whipped cream and ½ a cherry on top of cream.
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One Response to The Iron Skillet

  1. Christa Krueger says:

    Jeanie, I always liked to use my Iron Skillet, until we renovated the kitchen (actually built a new one – using 2/3 of our double car garage. That was in 1987. We had a wall oven and a (spiral burner) cook top installed, which was o.k to use the skilleton. Well, the spiral burner cook top was not what I really wanted, replaced it with a smooth top surface. That’s when I found out, the Iron Skillet was not flat at the bottom, it just would not work properly again. I do like to try that Pineapple Upside down cake, but
    can’t remember, if I gave the skillet away. Will have to take a look in my crawl space, where I store unused items. Many times our church is furnishing appartments for refugees and sometimes I DO part with things, I absolutely have no use for. Normally, nothing much leaves my house, as I always find ways to re-use everything.
    Your story is really wonderful. This gentleman knew how to honour his late wife by passing on one of her most priced possessions. Knowing you, you probably have been a gracious hostess to him as well. Very nice story as always,
    I better leave a comment on the previous one as well, while I am at it. Always like reading ‘Down the Rural Road’.

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