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Old Friends

A Cowboy Cauldron that lives by the smokehouse on our founder’s family farm in Sandridge South Carolina.

 

OLD FRIENDS

How Butter Pat was born over a Cowboy Cauldron.

 

We admit it: we’re tired of winter, but even by the end of March, we could always use one more fire. For the cooking, of course, but also sometimes just for the friends we gather around them, especially after this last year.

Most of you have probably seen our many references to the Cowboy Cauldron Company. Some of you have even noticed that our Lili skillet has its logo on the bottom. Well, we thought it was about time that we offered an explanation, as usual, in the form of a story.

Back in the late '90s, Mike Bertelsen, the owner of the Cowboy Cauldron Company, lived in Alexandria, Virginia, where I designed and renovated historic homes. Mike and I were both firebugs and Huck Finns, always out on the marshes of the Potomac River together, messing around with bows and arrows, canoes, and campfires.

The Cowboy Cauldron was born during those days in Virginia, and it was around the first cauldron that a thousand questions were asked, and often left unanswered, about cooking with cast iron over an open flame.

 

Before we began Butter Pat in 2013, we sourced, reconditioned, and sold thousands of vintage pieces of cast-iron cookware together - our warehouse is still full of the stuff - to chefs, home cooks, and live-fire enthusiasts, especially those with Cowboy Cauldrons.

 

In fact, the first place you could buy a Butter Pat Lili skillet, the very first Butter Pat skillet, was from the Cowboy Cauldron Company. Hence the tribute, still molded on the back of every 14-inch pan.

Eventually, Mike moved home to Salt Lake City, and Butter Pat set up shop across the Chesapeake on Maryland's Eastern Shore. Our conversations these days are more about supply-chain problems than how to build a teepee campfire, but whenever we get together, there is always a fire and a cast-iron pan.

We think Mark Twain would still approve.

 

Cowboy Cauldron has a new 24” portable cauldron, The DUDE. Yup, fits in the trunk of a car. Check it out at cowboycauldron.com, or wait around for the exclusive offer to Butter Pat customers.

FAST & FURIOUS PIZZA SPLAT

FAST & FURIOUS PIZZA SPLAT
Ben Getz is the Butter Pat staff baker (okay he does a lot of other stuff for us too), and he comes by it naturally with parents who both work for Wolfgang Puck; his mother as a pastry chef. You see his bread and cinnamon buns regularly in our Butter Pat Facebook Cooking & Recipes Group

Friday nights Ben makes “real” pizza for his family and on February 19th he’s going to show you how. Sign up here: CAST IRON PIZZA CLASS

But first, like in high school, we understand that sometimes pizza is just dinner: FAST!  

For that you need SPLAT.

I don’t even remember where I got this recipe - The Splendid Table? - I do remember hearing you can make it almost as fast as learning the recipe. It’s the anti-Ben version. Though not as bad as delivery, it is certainly not pretty.

SPLAT in six lines...

  1. Get deli counter dough at the grocery store
  2. Pre-heat your oven, cast iron skillet inside, maximum temperature
  3. Pre-cook your ingredients - whatever, but not too much - and, make your dough sorta round-ish
  4. When ingredients are pre-cooked, and with your dough ready, cheese and sauce at-hand, turn your largest stove eye on high and place your hot cast iron pan over the eye: full blast.

Get ready, the next steps are the Fast and Furious

  1. Splat, dough goes in the pan and gets covered with ingredients: work fast
  2. Back in the oven for a few minutes to finish.

You get the thin-crust char with this method.  Be careful though: you’ll get the char if you aren’t careful handling the blazing hot pan. 

 

The Summer Odd, and Ends

The Summer Odd, and Ends
What a different world now compared to the last time we sent you a Butter Pat Standard Edition. “Wow” is an understatement, and the “novelty” of the novel coronavirus has definitely been worn the hell out.  


Sitting close around a fire, sharing dishes in the dark corner of a noisy restaurant, going to weddings and funerals and picking up oblivious kids who make those occasions as much about the future as the past—all that seems so far away.

At Butter Pat, we’ve adjusted, like you. Because what choice do we have? Moving and adapting decades old foundry practices with massive equipment was no simple task for the people who actually make our pans. But these are “get it done” kind of people. They make things, and they make things happen, and a virus isn’t going to dampen that spirit.

Though we are still far behind with 14” Lili pans and the flat-bottomed Homer pots, we are making cast iron again. And we’ve found a new U.S. manufacturer for cast glass, thus a new lid is in the works for the 12” Joan. 

Meanwhile, like it or not, like you, we’ve been spending much more time cooking—and cleaning—which has given us new ideas for our seasoning process.  Stay tuned.

One silver lining of all this is that it’s been a time of reflection, about a lot of things.

After a summer spent hiking on the Appalachian Trail in 1974, I moved into a rustic cabin on Cherokee Mountain in Tennessee, with nothing inside but an ancient enameled wood stove, made by the Wrought Iron Range Company in the late 1800s. She was a beautiful beast, used for both cooking and heat, and the sounds in the cabin that fall was that of cast iron scraping across her cooktop. The stove was the heart and soul of that cabin, and it kept me warm when everything in the outside world seemed brittle cold. 



I’ve been thinking a lot about that time and place lately—the routines of heating water in the stove’s copper reservoir for a bath (yup, no indoor plumbing), of banking the wood - which better be hickory - just right to keep the coals going until morning. But mostly, the food. It just seemed to taste better.  

That cabin still stands, though it now has indoor plumbing, and that beautiful stove is long gone. I can still see the name, enameled around the temperature gauge on the oven door: Home Comfort.

Reading notes from customers, from all over the world—just this morning, Rwanda — Home comfort, that’s what we hope, however long this takes, for all of you. 

 

Dennis T. Powell - Founder