Chef Annie Pettry can’t imagine a life in the kitchen without cast iron. “Honestly, I’ve always loved cast iron,” she says. “I grew up with it, and we learned early on how to take care of it, to keep it oiled and always dry it on a warm stove. It has always been the prize of the kitchen.”
She brings that affinity for the cookware into her work at Decca Restaurant, located in the NuLu district in Louisville, Ky. Cast iron often does double duty as cookware and table service, and in the restaurant you’re likely to see local vegetables served family-style from a skillet, seared fish, or even a piping hot dessert benefitting from some time in cast iron.
“I like that you can get it really hot, and even use it to cook over a fire since we have a wood-fired oven,” Pettry explains. “It’s hard to find another tool that is so versatile for cooking.”
Showing off versatility is what her spiced apple cobbler is all about. It might have a simple name, but it builds complexity in full-apple flavor through the use of apple brandy, dried and fresh apples, and some traditional spices with a twist. That twist is the use of the szechuan peppercorns, which add a tingle on the tongue and bring to life the other spices, so don’t omit them. The dish takes a while to construct, but served right from the pan, it’s a fitting finish to a casually elegant holiday celebration.
what you need
Butter to Coat Skillet
8-10 golden delicious apples, peeled & rough chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground star anise
¼ tsp. ground szechuan peppercorns
2 tbsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. orange zest
2-4 tbsp. cream
2 tsp. turbinado sugar
1 cup cobbler goo (recipe follows)
Cobbler biscuits (recipe follows)
servings: 6-10 (one 12" Cast Iron Skillet)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees and butter a 12-inch cast iron skillet.
Toss together apples, lemon juice, apple goo, spices, cornstarch, salt, and zest and place in skillet, pressing to fill skillet.
Arrange cobbler biscuits on top about an inch apart, brush biscuit tops with cream, then sprinkle over turbinado sugar
Bake for 30-40 minutes until the biscuits are golden brown. Note: To prevent a messy oven, place a baking sheet below the pan to catch bubbles and drips during baking.
Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes, then serve from the skillet with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.
what you need
3 golden delicious apples, peeled and chopped
½ cup dried apples
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp. apple brandy
1 tsp. orange zest
Simmer all ingredients until soft and gooey, stirring occasionally.
Allow to cool slightly, then puree and set aside.
what you need
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
¼ cup brown sugar
6 tbsp. cold butter, cut into cubes
¾ cup heavy cream
servings: 6-8 biscuits
Pulse flour, baking powder, salt and brown sugar in food processor.
Add butter and pulse a few times to achieve a coarse crumb texture.
Add cream and pulse to form dough
Remove to floured surface and roll out to ½-in. thick
Cut into 2-in. squares, circles or other decorative shapes. Biscuits may be frozen until use.
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Smithey Ironware Company, LLC
1175 Machinist St 43A
Charleston, SC 29412