Martha Stewart Living (September 2011)
People occasionally ask us about our kitchen must-haves: What cooking tools do we consider indispensable?
There's something else that we're increasingly finding crucial in the kitchen, and that's a cast iron skillet. Because an iron skillet gets so hot and cooks food so evenly, it's different from other stovetop pans, and different from the oven. It's almost like having another appliance in the kitchen.
This Broiled Shrimp with Tomatoes and White Beans is a perfect example of why an iron skillet is a great weapon to have in your kitchen arsenal.
Because you use an iron skillet under a broiler in this preparation, the shrimp, beans and tomatoes get an awesome, smoky char that really makes this a terrific meal.
This also happens to be a marvelous dish for people who are just getting started with cooking. Seriously, if you can open a can of beans and turn on your oven, you can make this dish.
And here's where the iron skillet really comes into play: Because you heat the skillet under the broiler for 15 minutes while you prep the ingredients, the food cooks in no time once it hits the hot pan.
If you don't have a cast iron skillet, you can certainly make this with any other ovenproof skillet. But we think it's worth investing in an iron skillet. Our favorite brand is Lodge, a Tennessee company that's been making cast iron cookware since 1896. Depending on the size you want, a pre-seasoned skillet from Lodge costs around $20.
Ultimately, we liked the dish very much, but it could have been much better with just a few tiny tweaks. Mostly, we just found it under-salted and under-seasoned. If you make this dish, we recommend using a little more salt, maybe a little lemon juice, and perhaps toss in a couple teaspoons of fresh oregano or basil or thyme. With a little more flavor, this dish would be a knockout.
On the whole, though, this dish is full of good flavors and, thanks to the iron skillet, it couldn't be simpler to make. In our book, that's a win.
What about you? Are you a cast iron fan or foe? Have another kitchen tool you can't imagine living without?
Let us know in the comments!
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Serves 4
- 2 cups grape tomatoes (12 ounces)
- 1 can (19 ounces) white beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 tablespoons brine-packed capers, rinsed
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic (from 4 cloves)
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- Coarse salt
- 1 pound shelled large shrimp (about 15), tails left intact
- 3/4 cup chicken stock
- Heat broiler. Preheat a large, heavy ovenproof skillet (preferably cast iron) on top rack for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, toss together tomatoes, beans, capers, garlic, 1 tablespoon oil, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a bowl. Toss shrimp with remaining tablespoon oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt in another bowl.
- Remove skillet from oven, and add tomato mixture. Broil until tomatoes are charred and beginning to collapse, about 5 minutes. Remove from oven, and stir in stock, then shrimp. Broil, stirring halfway through, until shrimp are opaque, about 3 minutes more. Drizzle with oil.