Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Cast Iron Skillets and Elk Burgers.

The last time I had made Elk Burgers was on July 4th, on the grill outside, along with my hot and sweet pork ribs.  Here I was again planning to make them for dinner, but Roy was going to be home late.  I always make something special for when he returns home; he has to live and work in Moab all week.  He’s another victim of the lack of full time employment in San Juan County; staying in Moab saves on fuel costs.  While making them on the grill is great, I had no intention of standing outside in the dark, with a flashlight, flipping burgers.  So, the question was, how to make them hot, fresh and quickly without using the outdoor grill?

Done up in the oven?  Just wouldn't get the caramelization that we liked, and would leach the juices right out of the meat.  The stove top was the last option.  Stove top burgers require the ultimate in a skillet...the cast iron skillet.  These little beauties cook evenly, retain high heat and last forever if taken cared of properly. I have had my skillets for over 30 years, they're still going strong; a bit beat up, but they do the job right.

Cast iron skillets do not come pre-seasoned, so prepare to do this before any attempt at cooking in them. Set the oven temperature to 450F, give the inside of the skillet a light coating of vegetable oil, and leave it in the oven for 30 minutes. Turn off the oven and let the skillet cool down. Hold on though, you're not done yet; repeat this process two more times. Why? The baked on oil is sealing up pores in the skillet and developing its own nonstick surface.


Every time you use your seasoned skillet, clean-up is basically hot water and paper towels. Using soapy water, steel wool pads or scrubbing pads will just take off that seasoned coating and allow rust to form in the skillet. Clean up with hot water, use paper towels to scrape off any stuck food bits, dry thoroughly and then smear on a light coating of oil with a paper towel. When storing, place a paper towel inside the skillet to keep dust particles from sticking to the coating, and when stacking pans.  I might be redundant, but paper towels are a best friend for your cast iron skillets.  A tip I learned the hard way, don’t store a wet pan on top of the cast iron; the water will soak through the paper and rust will form.

By the way, cast iron skillets can be used for baking.  I can attest to the fact that it creates the most fantastic honey cornbread; but that story is for another day.

Time to make some Elk Burgers...

Cast Iron Skillet Elk Burgers


3/4 lb. ground Elk meat
1/4 lb. lean ground beef
1 cup diced tomatoes
1/4 tsp each sea salt, ground black pepper, garlic powder and chili powder
3 Tbsp. butter
1 medium red onion, cut into strips
1 large green bell pepper, cut into strips


In a medium bowl, mix together the Elk, ground beef, tomatoes and seasonings. Form 4 patties which will be one inch thick.

On medium-high heat, melt butter in skillet and put in the onion and bell peppers strips. Place the patties on top of the vegetables. Cook for 12 minutes on one side, lift up burger, mix vegetables up underneath and flip uncooked side of burger down on vegetables. Do this for each burger and continue to cook for another 12 minutes each. This will allow the vegetables and the meat to caramelize, and the meat will be cooked well, but still juicy.

Remove to plate and let rest 5 minutes before putting burgers on buns with a serving of vegetables. Serve with lettuce, cheese and condiments if desired.

Makes 4 burgers.
Mary Cokenour