Anyone who spends a reasonable amount of time in the kitchen will be able to tell you that every cook has their preferences for cooking utensils.
Some people, for example, say there’s no need to spend hundreds on expensive pots and pans and that a $5 jobby from the supermarket does the job just fine.
Others are all about the famous names – “oh, it’s from Jamie Oliver? Then it *MUST* be good!”
Then there are some who are after the latest space-age technology that has flown straight in from NASA, bearing songs about triple bonded titanium which would bounce straight off a baby’s arse. Not that I condone that sort of behavior…
Last but not least, there are those who don’t really care what it is that they paid for, so long as it was expensive, not accessible to the masses and means they fit into the category of elites.
I’m all about cast-iron, baby. In my opinion, there’s nothing as versatile, non-stick or that cooks as evenly as well-maintained cast iron.
Perhaps it’s the fact that I know that my grandmother cooked almost exclusively with cast iron pots and pans back in the ‘old country’ (being under the age of 30, am I allowed to use that phrase?), and that using cast iron makes me feel closer to her now that she’s no longer here.
It might be the fact that it’s heavy sh*t and I know that it’s far too heavy for my mother or sister to use and ruin, so I feel that it’s safe from their abusive, metal scourer-wielding hands.
Or it may just be the fact that in my opinion, cast iron retains heat and cooks evenly like nobody’s business.
At any rate, my love of cast iron is deep and glee-inducing, much like the love of a fat man for cake:
(Excuse my rather woeful drawing skills. Unfortunately I was so overcome with joy at the age of 5 when I learnt how to draw stick figures that my ability has not much progressed since then…)
I mean, asking me if I want a gorgeous new cooking pot in CAST IRON is liking asking…
(I’m trying to think of a politically-correct way of conveying this and failing miserably as my atheist soul keeps turning to the clergy)
Ah hell, let’s go with my original analogy of a fat man and cake.
When the package arrived last week, I pounced on the package so quickly that the postie almost lost an arm, and resulted in him backing away veeeery quickly as I attacked the cardboard with my teeth, trying to free my gorgeous new pot from it’s paper prison.
And once it was free, I may or may not have creeped my kid brother out by curling up with the pot on the ground and gently stroking it while whispering “My preciousssssssssssss” as a gentle hiss.
Did I mention how much I love cooking with cast iron?
Anyway, once I regained my sanity and settled down to the task of deciding what dish to christen my pot with, I was a little stumped. With it being well into the winter weather here in Australia, it only seemed right that I make something unctuous and rich, something simmered slo-o-ow to perfection. As I had been planning on making a pork roast last weekend, I thought I’d use the opportunity to try something a bit different and go with a braised pulled pork – something which would use the glory of cast iron cookware to maximum effect.
Is this authentic? Hell no.
Is this the way pulled pork is meant to be made? I’ve no clue!
Is it tasty? Hell YES!
This is the sort of cooking that you want to do in winter – cooked for 5-6 hours, it fills the house with rich aromas, and can be made in a large batch that can be frozen and reheated with ease for those cold nights after work when you just can’t be bothered cooking!
And thanks to the folks at Kitchenware Direct, I now have a sexy, brand-new Le Chasseur Round French Oven in Federation Red to give away, so one of you lucky readers can get your own cast-iron cookin’ love on! Read down to the bottom for more info on how to enter the random draw
French Oven Pulled Pork
2kg pork shoulder
2 tbsp chilli flakes
1 tbsp mustard seeds
3 onions, thinly sliced
4-6 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
4 bay leaves
1 x 400g tin diced tomatoes
2 cups water
100mL red wine vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup ketchup
To serve (suggestions)
Tortilla wraps (served with fresh coriander, green chilli and avocado)
Hotdog buns (with a spicy vinegar slaw)
“Sandwiches” (served in rolls with cabbage slaw and melted cheese)
Steamed long-grain rice (with freshly chopped chilli and red onion)
1. Measure out your spices and liquids and have everything ready to go, then heat a dash of oil in the French oven (you can use any heavy pot, but cast iron has the best heat distribution and retention) and saute the onions till softened.
2. Add your garlic and spices and fry till they become fragrant, then lower the heat as much as possible and place the pork on top of the onion.
3. Add your liquids (vinegar, water, tinned tomat0es, ketchup) and the sugar, then place the lid on and leave to simmer. Make sure that you turn the pork over ever 30 minutes so that it cooks evenly. Cook the pork till you can stick a knife all the way through with almost no resistance – a 2kg cut for me took about 5 1/2 hours.
Once the pork is cooked and tender, remove from the pot into a bowl, then increase the heat under the pot to reduce the liquid by 1/2.
4. Using your fingers or a pair of forks, shred the pork completely. Once the liquid in the pot has reduced to half, add the shredded pork back to it and stir through. You can now set it aside for a day or two if you’ve made it in advance or place in a ziplock bag and freeze it for up to a month – defrost overnight in the feidge, then to reheat it, put the lid on tightly and simmer for 30 minutes – 1 hour.
All you need to do is leave a comment on this post telling me what your favourite dish to make in winter! It’s that easy
And to double your chances of winning this sassy new pot, just tweet the message “I’m entering the Le Chasseur French Oven Draw @Kitchenwench (ping @KW_Direct) – http://bit.ly/lMovf6″ and you’ll receive a second entry into the draw!
Entries close at midnight, Wednesday 6th July so you’ve got plenty of time to think about what YOU’LL do with this sassy new French oven once you win it 😉