Outdoor Wok? You Betcha!

Outdoor Wok? You Betcha!

Jane's cast-iron wok I have an outdoor wok and an indoor wok. My outdoor wok is really, really old; it was my grandmother’s, and it weighs more than ten pounds. It was seasoned when I got it, but I keep up with that because unless a cast iron pan’s seasoning is kept up, you’ll lose it. An unseasoned cast iron pan is pretty much useless; your food will stick to the pan so thoroughly it’s like the food and the iron have bonded. Which they actually have. But I digress.

In the fall, a few weeks after Labor Day, we like to get out the iron wok and start some serious stir-frying in the back yard. We’re literally drowning in fresh vegetables right now, and stir-frying them up is a delicious and nutritious and really easy way to use them up.

We never use the indoor wok outside on the grill; it’s for the stovetop only. Likewise, we never bring the indoor wok outside. These two pans are not interchangeable!

We use a charcoal grill, but it doesn’t matter. Use what you’ve got and prefer. Set the seasoned cast iron wok on your grill – ON it, not in it. Add about a tablespoon of canola oil. No more than that, as food cooked in a cast iron pot retains and uses its own juices more than with a conventional pan or pot. Throw in your cut-up chicken, pork, beef, lamb, or whatever kind of raw meat you’re using. Don’t laugh, but my husband absolutely loves to use scallops in his stir-fry, so that’s what we usually have. Let the meat get almost done, and start dumping in your cut-up vegetables.

Use any type and combination of vegetables that your family likes best. Broccoli, cauliflower, onions, peppers, squashes, sugar snap peas, tomatoes, bean sprouts, mushrooms, green beans, carrots, corn. . . . just send the kids out to the garden and throw in everything they bring back!

Um, wash everything first. You don’t want to fry up any bugs, worms, slugs, or noticeable dirt. Pat dry or you’ll get some serious and possibly dangerous reactions with the hot oil. Water and oil don’t mix. They don’t even like each other, and they’ll take it out on you.

Never stop stirring your mixture. When the vegetables are done but still fairly crisp, remove them from the wok and put them in a paper towel-lined bowl.

My husband always wants brown rice with this dish.

We like to use chopsticks, but you can use forks if you want. Set out the pepper jellies – everybody here likes his/her own and no two people ever want the same flavor.

If it’s just my husband and me, we put finely chopped pineapple in with the veggies and use Pineapple Habanero pepper jelly with it.

During peach season, we like to grill some halved fresh peaches for dessert. For this family, autumn grilling means getting out the cast iron wok, re-seasoning it, and filling it with our garden bounty.

Next weekend, we’ll take some steaks out of the freezer. Weekend after that, we’ll probably fire up the iron wok again. We’ll alternate like this until it gets too cold to stand outside. For my husband and his love of grilling and Texas Pepper Jelly products, that’s about ten degrees, so we’ve got some time yet.