Move beyond bacon and eggs to taste the almost-limitless cooking possibilities of a cast-iron skillet. Make sliders.
Cast-iron is nothing if not versatile. “You can perform any cooking technique [using a cast-iron skillet] — fry, sear, sauté, bake, stir-fry, braise — on any cooking surface, except for the microwave,” says Mark Kelly, the public relations and advertising manager for the Lodge Manufacturing Company, a leader in the development and production of cast-iron cookware since 1896. “It can be used on the stovetop, in the oven, on the grill, and at the campsite. And if it’s maintained properly, it will last a minimum of 100 years.”
2 6½-ounce packages Martha White Yellow Cornbread Mix
½ cup Martha White all-purpose flour
1½ cups milk
¼ cup sour cream
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
8 bacon slices, cooked until crisp and crumbled
¾ cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
½ cup mayonnaise
1 canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce, chopped, with 1 teaspoon sauce
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium yellow onion, sliced into rings
1½ pounds ground chuck
1 large egg
½ cup Italian-style bread crumbs
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
12 thin slices cheddar cheese
Make the buns: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease 2 cast-iron straight-sided muffin pans (6 cups each) with nonstick cooking spray. Stir together the cornbread mix, flour, milk, sour cream, and egg in a large bowl until well blended. Stir in the chives, crumbled bacon, and cheese. Fill each of the wells in the prepared muffin pans three-quarters full. Bake until golden brown, 10 – 12 minutes. (Any remaining batter can be made into additional muffins.)
Make the Chipotle Mayo: Combine ingredients in a small bowl until well blended. Set aside.
Make the burgers: Melt the butter in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onion rings and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 8 – 10 minutes. Remove from the skillet; wipe the skillet clean.
Combine the ground chuck, egg, bread crumbs, garlic, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Blend well. Divide into 12 equal portions. Pat out into thin burgers. Heat the skillet over medium to medium-high heat until hot. Cook the burgers, in batches, to desired degree of doneness. Top each burger with a slice of cheese.
To serve, slice the cornbread muffins to make buns. Spread a thin layer of the Chipotle Mayo on the tops and bottoms. Place a burger on each bottom half. Top with onion rings. Place the tops on the burgers and serve.
Recipe excerpted from The Lodge Cast Iron Cookbook: A Treasury of Timeless, Delicious Recipes (Lodge Manufacturing Company/Oxmoor House, 2012).
Photography: Courtesy Lodge Manufacturing Company
From the May/June 2013 issue.