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Proper 'seasoning'

Key to good ribs, baked beans and corn bread sticks

Posted: March 25, 2014 - 2:55pm  |  Updated: March 26, 2014 - 8:41am

As readers of this column already know, I’ve uncovered some real finds over the years at yard sales, thrift stores and flea markets. At a recent community rummage sale, I spotted a rusted-over vintage cast iron corn stick pan in the bottom of a box filled with other neglected kitchen items. The pan was the treasure among the castoffs, and although it would take some doing, I knew the pan could be refurbished and restored for use for years to come. So, home the pan went and without much trouble at all, I had a fully reconditioned pan, ready to join the other well-used and functional cast iron cookware in my kitchen. After seasoning, the newly acquired pan produced some picture-perfect corn sticks, which literally fell out of the pan after they were baked. Owners of cast iron sometimes encounter “sticking” problems with their equipment – an indication that it’s time to re-season the cast iron and get it back to where it’s meant to be. (See re-seasoning tips from Lodge Manufacturing Company following today’s recipes.) After enjoying corn sticks for breakfast, someone at the table winked and said, “These would taste good at dinner, maybe with some ribs.” And, so they did, served along with tender barbecued ribs and some baked beans, as well. Grilling ribs is fun, but so is cooking with cast iron. And just like food – with seasoning added.

 

Sue Ade is a syndicated food writer with broad experience and interest in the culinary arts. She has worked and resided in the Lowcountry of South Carolina since 1985 and may be reached at kitchenade@yahoo.com.

Slow-Baked Beans with Bacon

6 slices thick-sliced bacon, chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

1 (28-ounce) can pork and beans

2 (15-ounce) cans kidney beans, drained

¼ cup firmly packed brown sugar

¼ cup molasses

1 cup ketchup

1 tablespoon prepared mustard

 

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a large ovenproof pot or Dutch oven, over medium heat, cook bacon until browned. Remove bacon from skillet with a slotted spoon and reserve. Remove all but two tablespoons of fat from pot and stir onion into bacon drippings, cooking until onion is translucent. Lower heat and stir in pork and beans, kidney beans, sugar, molasses, ketchup, mustard and reserved bacon, mixing to combine. Place pot in oven. Bake until thick and bubbly, about two hours, stirring occasionally. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Makes 8 servings.

Barbecued Fall-off-the-Bone Tender Pork Ribs

6½ pounds pork baby back ribs

1 onion, coarsely chopped

½ cup cider vinegar

12 black peppercorns

1 teaspoon salt

Barbecue sauce

 

Cut ribs into serving portions. Place them into a large Dutch oven, adding water to just cover. Add onion, vinegar, peppercorns and salt. Bring to a boil; cover and simmer for 1 hour; drain well. Grill over low coals for 20 minutes, turning after 10 minutes. Baste with barbecue sauce and grill 5 minutes. Turn ribs, grilling for an additional 5 minutes, or until ribs are done, as desired. Makes 6 servings. Kitchen Ade note: barbecue sauces that are high in sugar will burn when brushed on foods over a hot fire. To avoid burning, always add the barbecue sauce during the last minutes of grilling. Barbecue sauce can also be added after the food is removed from the grill.

Corn Bread Sticks

½ cup sifted unbleached all-purpose flour

¼ cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

½ cup stone-ground yellow cornmeal

1 large egg, lightly beaten

½ cup milk

2 tablespoons butter, melted

Vegetable oil for brushing on corn bread pan

 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Use a pastry brush to generously coat the corn stick pan with oil, then place the pan in oven to heat while you mix the batter. Sift flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a mixing bowl. Stir in corn meal. Add egg, milk and butter, mixing well. Fill each well about 2/3’s full. (Do not overfill pans.) Bake 12 to 15 minutes, or until the tops are lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in the center of one of the corn sticks comes out clean. Remove pan to a wire rack and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Using a sharp knife to loosen the edges of the corn bread sticks, remove sticks to a rack. Serve warm. Makes 7 to 9 corn bread sticks. Recipe may be doubled if you have two corn stick pans.

How to refurbish a cast iron skillet

(Source Lodge Manufacturing Company, www.lodgemfg.com)

 

• Wash the cookware with hot, soapy water and a stiff brush.

• Rinse and dry completely.

• Apply a very thin, even coating of MELTED solid vegetable shortening (or cooking oil of your choice) to the cookware inside and out.

Too much oil will result in a sticky finish.

• Place aluminum foil on the bottom rack of the oven (not directly on bottom) to catch any drips.

• Set oven temperature to 350 to 400 degrees.

• Place cookware upside down on the top rack of the oven to prevent pooling.

• Bake the cookware for at least one hour.

After the hour, turn the oven off and let the cookware cool in the oven.

• Store the cookware uncovered, in a dry place when cooled.

• Repeat as necessary.

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