From The Desk Of Anders Parker: Old Cast-Iron Pans

Looking back over the breadth of Anders Parker’s two-decade career, there is little he has yet to accomplish or prove. The stylistic range encompassed by his Varnaline work alone is evidence of Parker’s determination to explore, illuminate, absorb and transcend every musical influence he’s experienced, from alt-country and raw folk to pastoral Americana and baroque art rock. And Parker’s catalog under his own name has been equally diverse, be it the transitional familiarity of 2004’s Tell It To The Dust or the ambient instrumental guitar wash of 2010’s Cross Latitudes. There’s A Bluebird In My Heart, Parker’s latest contribution, is a welcome return to his Varnaline/early-solo sound, perhaps in reaction to his recent experimental streak. Parker will be guest editing all week. Read our brand new review of There’s A Bluebird In My Heart.


Parker: I like to cook. There are so many types of cookware, and everything’s got its place: copper, stainless steel, non-stick. Cast-iron pans are great for many things, and once you learn how to treat them and care for them, they are invaluable. Once I got hip to cast iron, I soon after got hip to old cast iron. Wagner and Griswold are among a few manufacturers in the U.S. in the early- /mid-century that made quality pieces that are still easy to find and restore to useful cooking quality. I’ve refurbished a bunch over the years from yard sales and flea markets, and I use them regularly. Here’s my no-fail roast chicken recipe (adapted from my friend Parker Platt of Brevard, N.C.)

Oven at 500 (yes 500, this is the key)

4 lb young chick

In cavity
1 tbs butter (or 2)
1-2 cloves crushed garlic
1/2 lemon squeezed and placed inside
Kosher salt (another key) and pepper inside and out

Place breast up on a nice sized cast-iron skillet

Roast for 15 minutes

Remove from oven and scrape free from pan (this is just to keep it from becoming totally glued to the bottom). Surround with quartered new potatoes, sweet onions, carrots that have been tossed in a bit of olive oil and salt and pepper.

Return to oven for 45 more minutes

Check with 15 minutes of so left to be sure the skin on the breasts isn’t burning but just getting dark and crispy

If it’s getting on toward burnt just lay a piece of tin foil over the bird to protect it a bit.

Check the joint between the breast and thigh after the cooking time. If the broth in there is clear, the yard bird is done.

Remove from pan and let rest for 10-15 minutes. Swish potatoes and other goodies around in broth in pan and return to oven to cook while the bird rests.