It’s time to bust out the cast iron skillet and get cooking with these comfort food recipes from
WILL IT SKILLET? By Daniel Shumski.
These delicious and easy one-pan recipes are perfect for a cozy supper on a cool fall or winter evening.
Chicken Potpie (in a Skillet)
This version skips a traditional crust and gets crowned with a buttery, crumbly cracker topping. This recipe will not have you missing the chicken. There’s plenty.
Making everything in the skillet means no crust on the bottom, since the sauce and all of the filling ingredients are cooked together on the stove-top. You won’t find the traditional crust on top, either. Instead, crushed crackers add crunch there.
25 saltine crackers
3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1⁄8 teaspoon dried ground sage
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup diced white or yellow onion (about 1 small onion)
3⁄4 cup diced celery (about 2 large stalks, trimmed)
1 1⁄2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 cup milk
1⁄3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1⁄2 teaspoon dried thyme
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
1⁄4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 1⁄2 cups chopped cooked chicken (about 12 ounces)
1 cup frozen peas
1. Make the topping: In a small bowl, finely crush the crackers. Stir in
the Parmesan and sage. Add the butter and mix with a fork until the
ingredients are evenly distributed. Set aside.
2. Preheat the oven to 400°F with one rack in the middle. Preheat the
skillet over medium heat for 2 minutes.
3 Make the filling: Add the butter to the skillet and allow it to melt,
then add the onion and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the
onions soften, about 10 minutes.
4. In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine the broth and milk. In another
small bowl, combine the flour, thyme, salt, and pepper, then sprinkle the
mixture into the skillet. Gradually whisk in the broth and milk, adding
about a quarter of the total liquid at a time and whisking until the
mixture thickens before adding more. The first batch of liquid should
thicken almost instantly, though it may take as long as 5 minutes to add
and thicken all of the liquid. When all of the liquid has been added, stir
in the chicken and peas and remove the skillet from the heat.
5. Sprinkle the topping over the skillet and place it in the oven. Bake
until the topping is beginning to brown and the liquid is bubbling around
the edges, about 10 minutes.
6. Remove the skillet from the oven and transfer it to a rack to cool
slightly, about 10 minutes. Serve hot. Leftovers can be refrigerated in a
covered container for up to 2 days.
Substitute 2 cups cubed cooked ham for the chicken and omit the salt.
(The ham has a more assertive flavor, so slightly less is needed.)
Mac and Cheese
The pasta and sauce come together right in the skillet. So many recipes would have you boil the macaroni in one pot and make the sauce in another. But why not cook the macaroni right in the skillet in the first place?
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
2 cups elbow macaroni
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3⁄4 cup evaporated milk
1⁄2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 1⁄2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1. Fill the skillet two-thirds full of water, add the salt, and bring to a
boil over medium-high heat.
2. Add the macaroni, turn the heat to medium, and cook, stirring
occasionally, until just shy of al dente. This should take about 10
minutes, but check the pasta package for recommended cooking times and aim
for the lower end if a range is given. (The macaroni will continue to cook
a bit in the sauce.) When the macaroni is ready, biting into a piece should
reveal a very thin core of uncooked pasta.
3. Drain the macaroni and return it to the skillet. Turn the heat to low.
Add the butter and stir until it melts.
4. Add the evaporated milk, mustard, and cayenne and stir well to combine.
Add the cheese in three batches, stirring frequently as each batch is added
and waiting until the cheese has melted before adding the next batch. After
about 5 minutes total, the sauce will be smooth and noticeably thicker.
5. Serve hot. Leftovers can be refrigerated in a covered container for up
to 2 days.
Spiced Apple Funnel Cakes
Yes, they might be associated with carnivals and fairs, but no one’s going to complain if you make them at home.
A big drawback to deep-frying can be the amount of oil required. The greater the volume of oil, the more it costs and the longer it takes to heat and later to cool. Fortunately, not everything requires so much oil. Funnel cakes are the perfect candidate for skillet-frying. Because skillets have so little depth to them, they need relatively little oil. And the cast iron helps keep the oil at a steady temperature.
Funnel cakes have other things going for them, too: Unlike doughnuts, there’s no shaping or rising. All you need is a squeeze bottle (an old ketchup bottle works fine; it should hold at least 16 ounces). This makes handling the batter infinitely easier than trying to wrangle a funnel over hot oil. Yes, this means they could be called “squeeze bottle cakes,” but let’s not mess with a good thing, okay? With an assist from the skillet, these are a great special treat—one that is actually quite a bit less work than you should let on.
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
Pinch of ground or freshly grated nutmeg
3⁄4 cup milk (see Note)
1 large egg
1⁄2 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 tablespoons neutral-flavored oil (such as canola or peanut), plus more
1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Confectioners’ sugar, for serving
Use whole milk if available.
1. In a medium-size bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, granulated sugar,
salt, and nutmeg until combined. In a small bowl or a measuring cup, stir
the milk, egg, applesauce, oil, and vanilla until combined. Whisk into the
flour mixture until the batter is smooth.
2. Transfer the batter to a squeeze bottle with a 1/4-inch opening and
place the bottle in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes while the oil
3. Heat about 3/4 inch oil to 350°F in the skillet over medium heat. For
safety’s sake, do not fill the skillet with oil beyond its halfway point.
When the oil is hot enough for frying, it will bubble around the handle of
a wooden spoon. Line a large plate with paper towels.
4. Remove the bottle from the refrigerator and shake it vigorously so that
the batter is well combined. Holding the bottle over the skillet, gently
squeeze to allow the batter to flow, starting in the center of the skillet
and moving quickly outward to create overlapping squiggles that form a
circle about 5 inches in diameter. If the first one doesn’t come out
picture-perfect, don’t sweat it; your technique will improve with practice.
Fry the cake until golden brown on the bottom, 1 to 2 minutes. Carefully
flip the cake and cook until the second side is golden brown, 1 to 2
5. Transfer the finished funnel cake to the paper towel–lined plate. Return
the oil to 350°F before repeating Step 4 with the remaining batter. Do not
allow the oil to overheat or smoke. Turn down the heat if it does.
6. Dust the finished funnel cakes with powdered sugar. Serve hot, fresh
from the skillet.
WILL IT SKILLET: 53 Irresistible & Unexpected Recipes to Make in a Cast Iron Skillet (Workman; April 2017) by Daniel Shumski delivers surprising, ingenious, sometimes whimsical and always delicious meals in this new take on one-pan cooking. Easily transferred from stove-top to oven, the beloved cast-iron skillet offers endless options.