Easy recipes for caravanners: Using a skillet

By: Lynn Bain, Photography by: Lynn Bain

A cast iron skillet is a very versatile cooking utensil, perfect for easy oven-baked meals.

Easy recipes for caravanners: Using a skillet
Cornbread is always better when baked in a well-seasoned cast iron skillet

Skillet oven cornbread

Cornbread is always better when baked in a well-seasoned cast iron skillet, as the skillet gives the cornbread those classic crusty edges. However, this recipe also works well when using your skillet for the first time, as heating the butter in the skillet in your oven will also season your skillet.

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 30 minutes (or a little less)

The following quantities will serve two

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1 cup cornmeal (polenta)
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • A good pinch of salt
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup corn kernels
  • 1 small red chilli, seeded and finely chopped (optional)
  • 1 cup grated cheese

Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F.

Place the butter into a suitably-sized cast iron skillet (a heavy-based frypan will suffice as an alternative) and heat in the oven until the butter has melted. Heating and melting the butter in the skillet before adding the cornbread batter gives you a delicious crispness to the outer edges of the cornbread.

While the skillet is in the oven with the butter melting, prepare the cornbread batter. In a bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt. In a second bowl, combine thoroughly the eggs, milk and oil. Then pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and stir well. Now add the corn, chilli and grated cheese. Stir well to combine.

Pour the batter into the hot buttered skillet (it should sizzle nicely) and return the now full skillet to the oven to cook for 20-25 minutes. The cornbread is cooked when it is golden brown and a wooden skewer inserted into the middle of the cornbread comes out clean.

Remove the cornbread from the oven and let it cool for a few minutes before cutting the cornbread into wedges and serving.

Skillet oven gumbo

Gumbo is a stew that originated in southern Louisiana during the 18th century. It consists primarily of a stock, plus the Louisiana trinity of celery, capsicum and onion, as well as whatever meat and/or seafood is to hand. The following gumbo is by no means a traditional gumbo – it is just a quick and easy adaptation using handy ingredients. This is a great recipe for the day before shopping day or the last day of a short trip away, because it can use up what is leftover in the pantry/fridge.

Preparation time: 10-15 minutes

Cooking time: 30 minutes

The following quantities will serve two

  • 400g tin cream of chicken soup
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 green capsicum, seeded and cut into small cubes
  • 1-2 sticks celery, thinly sliced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp MasterFoods Cajun seasoning
  • A few dashes of Tabasco sauce (optional)
  • 1/2 cup uncooked white rice
  • 125g small green prawns, peeled
  • 125g chicken meat, cut into small cubes (or leftover barbecue chicken)
  • 2-3 tbsp fresh flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped

Preheat your oven to 190°C/375°F.

In a medium-sized skillet, combine the soup, water, onion, garlic, green capsicum, celery, bay leaf, Cajun seasoning, Tabasco, rice, prawns and chicken. Stir together well to combine.

Now either place some foil over the top of the skillet, tucking it down around the sides or place a similar-sized skillet or metal plate over the top to act as a lid.

Bake in the oven for 20 minutes before removing and stirring well. Return the skillet to the oven without a lid for the remaining 10 minutes cooking time. Once more, remove the skillet from the oven and then taste the rice to ensure it is tender. If there is still a firmness to the rice, return the skillet to the oven for a further five minutes. Then stir in the chopped flat leaf parsley and remove and discard the bay leaf. If necessary, thicken the gumbo with a little of the cornflour ‘roux’ to your preferred consistency.

Serve the gumbo with some crispy bread rolls on the side. 

Skillet peach cobbler

Cobbler may refer to one of a variety of baked dishes, consisting of fruit covered with a batter, a coarse grained batter or even a piecrust. Some cobblers are a deep-dish pie with both a top and bottom thick pastry crust. Incidentally, a (dry) crumble differs from the cobbler in that milk is used in a cobbler to make a batter. In this recipe, we cook an eggless batter version of the cobbler. You could say it is a fruit version of ‘toad in the hole’, or a Yorkshire pudding with fruit instead of beef drippings.

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 30 minutes or so

The following quantities will serve two with leftovers

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup SR flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup flaked almonds (optional)
  • 400g tin or bottle of peach halves in syrup

Preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F.

Place a skillet in the oven and add the butter to the skillet. When the butter has melted, remove the skillet from the oven.

Arrange the peach halves on the surface of the buttered skillet and drizzle the remaining syrup from the tin (or bottle) over the peaches.

In a bowl, whisk together the SR flour, sugar, milk and flaked almonds then pour the mixture around the peaches in the skillet.  

Place the skillet in the preheated oven and bake for around 30 minutes or until the crust of the cobbler has turned golden brown.

Remove the skillet from the oven and allow the cobbler to cool for a few minutes before serving with ice cream, mascarpone, cream or vanilla yoghurt.

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The full feature appeared in Caravan World #550 April 2016. Subscribe today for the latest caravan reviews and news every month!