Cast iron
Kirk McKoy/Los Angeles Times/MCT

If asked to name my favorite cookware, I would definitely say, “cast iron.” This is probably because it is the type my mother used when I was growing up.

In addition to several sizes of iron skillets, Mother also had an old iron pot (about 2-quart size) that she used for cooking green beans and other vegetables.

Daddy used this same iron pot for his special taffy. He really felt that the cast iron pot made a big difference in how this candy turned out, and I never saw him use any other type pot.

When I think of cooking in iron cookware, I think of old-fashioned, simpler foods — but Megan Keno, author of “Cast Iron Gourmet,” takes it to a new level with delicious and elegant dishes such as the following Chorizo and Shrimp Paella. (By the way, I do not know where to find chipotle paste, but it is an optional ingredient.)

I was thrilled when I received a copy of this cookbook. It is great, and I think you will like it, too. Some of the other gourmet favorites are Lemon and Herb Chicken with White Wine, Cowboy Butter Skillet-Grilled T-Bone Steak and Roasted Vegetable-Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms.

Not long ago, I mentioned how tasty chocolate and orange are together. You can just imagine my delight when I found a recipe in this new cookbook for Chocolate-Orange Baked French Toast. Would certainly like to try that one soon. I can almost taste it.

The only drawback to cooking in cast iron cookware is that it is very heavy. Perhaps we can have someone put the skillet or pot on the stove for us.    


  • ½ pound sliced chorizo sausage
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 ½ cups arborio rice
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 1 ½ to 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 can (15 ounces) diced tomatoes
  • ½ pound peeled and deveined medium shrimp
  • 1 cup peas
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle paste, optional

Over medium high heat, add chorizo to iron skillet and cook until crispy and brown on all sides, about 5 minutes. Once the chorizo is cooked, put it aside on a plate. Add the olive oil to the skillet and reduce the heat to medium low. Sprinkle in the arborio rice and stir to toast the rice, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cayenne until just fragrant. The rice should look just slightly translucent and toasted golden brown.

Deglaze the pan by pouring the white wine into the pan and stirring the rice with the wine. Allow the wine to evaporate and then whisk in the chicken stock and tomatoes. Cover the pan and cook the rice for about 11 to 12 minutes, until rice is almost cooked through.

Stir in the shrimp, chorizo and peas and continue to cook covered for another 6 minutes or until the shrimp is cooked through and the peas are tender. If you want a little extra kick, stir in the chipotle paste. Serve hot.

Award-winning chef Prudence Hilburn’s cooking column appears every other week. Contact her at