A pie iron for pie iron cooking is a metal cooking device on the end of long handles which allows you to hold the iron in or near an open fire to cook food. Obviously named for their utility in cooking pies, these utensils can be handy to cook a number of things in a fire pit, campfire, or in your fireplace.
What is a Pie Iron?
A pie iron is basically two shallow metal bowls (some are round and some are square) that fit together and each has long handles, as pictured above. After filling the bowls with food, they are secured together, so that the food is completely contained within, and held over a fire to cook the contents.
They are relatively compact so they can be taken camping to expand your campfire cooking. They can be used at home in your fireplace cooking. It can be used outside over your fire pit. Anywhere you have fire, you can cook with these great tools!
Pie Iron Cooking: What can you cook with a set of pie irons?
What can’t you cook? Basically, anything you can fit in the iron, you can cook! Simply fill it up with any ingredients, close it up and cook it! However, there are a couple of things that this accessory is absolutely ideal for.
For one, you guessed it, pies! As the name implies, pies are natural to cook this way.
Another natural is grilled sandwiches. Actually, this is my favorite! Delicious, melty, toasty, and crispy sandwiches are easy and fun with a set of these irons.
How do you use them?
This isn’t too tricky! Simply fill the irons with food, close up and cook!
But here are a couple of tips:
- Most new irons need to be seasoned before use. Simply cover them with cooking oil and hold over the fire until they just begin to smoke (a few minutes). Wipe clean and repeat a couple times to get a good seasoning coating on them. After this first time, you don’t need to repeat, but be sure to clean them after each use and coat them with a bit of oil for storage.
- Butter or oil the inside of the irons before adding food. This helps to prevent sticking and also helps to make your pie crust or bread cook nice, toasty, and crisp.
- For pies, line each side of the iron with your favorite pie crust. Then fill with your pie filling just like you would make a regular pie.
- For grilled sandwiches, after buttering the irons, push slices of bread into each side. Then fill with whatever ingredients you want. I really like to get gourmet and use some great cheeses and meats but you can do a simple grilled cheese sandwich as well. There are some ideas below!
- Close up the iron tight and hold it over your fire. This is the hardest part, figuring out when your food is done! I don’t recommend opening the iron until you are pretty sure it is done, because it might all fall out and crumble if its not cooked completely! For starters, cook longer than you think you need to. As you get experience, you’ll get a better sense for how much time you need to brown your food and cook it through.
- When done, simply open up the pie iron. Be careful, they will be hot! Then serve and enjoy!
Be sure to clean your irons well after use and coat them with a bit of oil. Because they are metal they can rust if left wet or with food on them. Coating them with oil helps protect them and keep them well seasoned.
A couple of grilled sandwich ideas:
- Grilled Cheese: Good ol’ grilled cheese is hard to beat. However, I like to spice it up a bit by using fancier cheeses that add interest. Try some French Gruyere or, if you like a bit of pungency to your cheese, Morbier or Raclette. Yum!
- Ham and Cheese: Another classic. But they can be even better with interesting cheeses. Try the above cheeses or anything else you think might be good. Even better, try some gourmet cured pork products like Prosciutto or Cured Spanish Chorizo!
- Blue Cheese!: Many people don’t think to put blue cheese in a grilled cheese sandwich or burger, but the salty, tanginess of these cheeses is delicious and they melt down easily. Try it alone, with meat or even with fruit! One of my favorites is Gorgonzola with Apple Slices in toasty bread!
Get creative and give those irons a work out! I’d love to hear of your interesting uses for pie irons. Contact me and let me know what you made and how it turned out!