If you don’t have a cast iron pan that you cling to like your first stuffed animal, consider why not and figure out a solution. Sure, you can use a regular sauté pan or skillet, but it just wont be the same. That non-stick pan you cook everything in that you got at Target? It will loose its non-stickiness and slowly poison you. Cast iron? It’ll outlive you, and while you live will fortify your food with so much iron you may as well be shooting bull’s blood for breakfast.
Cast iron gives you purpose, and it will reinforce any tendencies you have to avoid soap (or at least it might make you a little less anal about germs).
Cast iron turns you into a charming hoarder and will give you something to do at any thrift store or antique shop you ever go to again.
Cast iron entrenches sincere notions of commitment and care. Its like baby training, except cast iron never pukes on you (obviously you need to keep babies out of the oven).
This little quickie is an ode to the quick, direct, and braindead simple way a well cared for cast iron pan will feed you and make you happy. Also, sweet potatoes are healthy, or something.
Try this tactic with most, if not all, vegetables: Heat your pan ’till it smokes, sear your treats, finish in the oven. Repeat until you’ve got grandkids (then teach them a thing or two).
Sweet Potato Salad
2 sweet potatoes
1 tablespoon of grapeseed oil
1 head of garlic
1 head of lettuce
juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
12 turns of a pepper mill (about 1 teaspoon)
1. Place your trusty cast iron pan in the oven and crank it to 500 degrees. Go about your day/evening/life for half an hour. Clean your kitchen. Walk the dog. Make out.
2. Give those sweet potatoes a quick scrub under cold running water. Split them in half lengthwise.
3. Carefully remove your hot pan from the oven (use ‘dem mitts) and place it on the stove top burner on high flame. Lower the oven temperature to 400 degrees. Heat the pan for about 2 minutes, then add enough grapeseed oil to coat the pan.
5. Once you’ve got nice spots, turn the potatoes skin side down and place an unadulterated head of garlic on top of the potatoes. You want to roast the garlic but you don’t want it to burn. Put the whole shebang back in the oven and roast at 400 for 25 minutes.
6. While the potatoes are roasting, wash and dry your lettuce and get the vinagrette started. Skin and then slice the shallot thinly and combine with the lemond juice and 1 tablespoon of cider vinegar. Set it aside and make the “aioli.”
Roasted Garlic “Aioli”
That roasted head of garlic
2 heft pinches of sea salt
1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
4 tablespoons grapeseed oil
7. Slice off the bottom of the head of garlic. Cut deep enough so that the bottoms of each clove are exposed. Squeeze the cloves out of their skins into a mortar, or a food processor if you’re more contemporary. Add salt and crush, or pulse, until you get a smooth paste. Mix in the vinegar and the mustard, and combine. Then add the grapeseed oil slowly, dribbling in 1 tablespoon at a time while mixing or pulsing until all the oil is emulsified.
8. Fish those slightly pickled shallots out of the co-mingled acids, cover them with ground black pepper and set aside. Stir the olive oil into the acid-combo and dissolve a pinch of salt into the mix. Toss the lettuces with this deeply un-anal vinaigrette.
10. Place two halves of sweet potato on two plates. Add a hefty dollop of the “aioli” to each plate and plop the peppered and pickled shallots on top of the goop. Place a fistful of dressed lettuce aside the sweeties and serve.
Beverage: Don De Dieu, a swell strong ale from Unibroue.
Soundtrack: Father Finger, Temper.