Joined at the Heart · Recipe · Writers Write

Cooking-Day 23

My favorite pan is a deep iron skillet with a lid. Empty, it weighs close to ten pounds. I bought it from an elderly Mexican-American gentleman for $3.00. He was moving to assisted living. He no longer needed his fried chicken pan, and he wanted to sell it to a real cook. I must have passed the test.

The pan is special for its origin, but also for its utility. The heavy iron conducts heat better than any other. At high altitude–on a mountain camping trip–it will bake cornbread atop a Coleman stove. At home, spaghetti sauce simmers with almost no flame. Another cook might complain that it’s too heavy to heft from burner to oven. But the way I see it, that’s the pan’s grace.

The skillet’s usefulness will surely out live me. Someday, I’ll pass it on to another real cook.

Cornbread for My Brother, George

  • one pound lean ground beef or turkey
  • one half teaspoon ground cumin
  • one half teaspoon chili powder
  • one half teaspoon Kosher salt
  • one onion chopped
  • small can diced green chilis
  • one package cornbread mix (I like Jiffy)
  • one egg
  • one can creamed corn

Brown the meat in an iron skillet. Add onions, chilis, and spices. Cook until the onions are soft. In a separate bowl combine the cornbread mix, egg, and creamed corn. Pour the mixture over the meat. Spread to the edges, but do not stir. Bake uncovered for 50 minutes in a 400 degree oven. A knife inserted into the middle should come out clean. Cool for fifteen minutes. Slice into wedges. Serve with salsa.

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