Mine actually got used this summer, when hubby and friends had a canoe trip, and used it to cook up a whole mess of eggs. So now it is actually clean, and hanging by our back door (as it would come in handy for a weapon if anyone ever tried to break into our home).
But last year, I bought myself a cast iron Dutch Oven, and it was love at first bite. Of the food I made in it, not the actual cast iron...
Lodge makes a dandy line of cast iron ware, it comes preseasoned and with a handy guide on how to care for it. If you are inclined, that is the brand I would invest in. I got my Dutch oven at Target, they also carry Lodge at Fleet Farm (which is a fun shopping adventure all on it's own...)
Here is my favorite basic chili recipe, that we had on Tuesday night, when the rain was pouring down the windows and the Twins were playing baseball. You don't HAVE to cook it in a cast iron Dutch oven, but I firmly believe it makes it that much better. And cooking it on a simmer for several hours doesn't hurt either.
Tummy Warming Simple Chili (if you have a copy of my cookbook, it is under Meat & Poulty, there I call it Good Basic Chili)
2 lbs. lean ground beef
3 Tbsp. veg. oil
1 md onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. ground chipotle pepper (the secret ingredient...)
1/2 to 1 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper (you decide how hot you want it)
3 Tbsp. chili powder (I use Penzey's medium strength)
3 c. water
1 26 oz. can tomato puree
2 16 oz. cans diced tomatoes
1 16 oz. can black beans, drained
1 16 oz. pinto beans, drained
1-2 tsp. salt, to taste
Brown beef in two batches in dutch oven (or large soup kettle). Drain off fat, set beef aside. Heat the oil over med. hi heat and saute the onions for 4-5 minutes, add the red bell pepper and garlic and cook 2-3 more minutes, stirring often. Add black pepper, cumin, chipotle, crushed red peppers, and chili powder, stirring constantly. When spices start to stick to the bottom of the pan and begin to brown, quickly add the water and stir. Add all of the tomatoes and the juice they were packed in, add the beans, and salt to tast. Stir in the drained beef, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer for 3 hours, stirring every 15 min. or so.
Garnish with shredded cheese and sour cream, and a few sliced scallions if you wish. I like to bake up some Trader Joe's cornbread to go alongside, or tortilla chips are good too.
Happy cast iron cooking!
Good Basic Chili