Monte Cristo Skillet – and Your Cast Iron Memories


This delicious recipe is at the bottom of the post. Hope you get to try it soon!

Be sure and share your special Cast Iron memories in the comments below!

(more details at bottom of post)

Today I’m thrilled to bring you a guest post from the good folks at Martha White, along with a fun announcement! The National Cornbread Festival is coming up! The cornbread festival is held each year in the neat little town of South Pittsburg, Tennessee, and this year Martha White has asked me to be a judge. So I get to participate in the festival AND taste all of the yummy entries, to boot! The festival is a weekend long family event with all sorts of fun activities taking place, including tours of the Lodge Cast Iron Factory. Click the Cornbread Festival logo at the bottom of this post to visit the official homepage and learn more.

I’m really looking forward to meeting more of the Southern Plate Family! We have a page over on Facebook where folks can RSVP that they are coming so if you plan on coming out for the fun this year so click here to head on over there and let me know so I can look forward to seeing your face and keep you posted on times and location of the Southern Plate Family meet and greet.

I’m also hoping some of you will enter the competition. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if a member of the Southern Plate family won it? I happen to know that y’all are a group of extremely talented cooks – who cook for the love of family and friends – and I can’t imagine a dish tasting better than one made by one of you. For the official rules of the competition, click here. To go ahead and enter, click here.

This Monte Cristo Skillet was the Grand Prize Winner of the 2006 National Cornbread Festival. It caught my eye because I recently had my very first Monte Cristo Sandwich and absolutely loved it. Southern Living sent me to Charleston to do some presentations for the Taste of Charleston Festival. Have you ever been to Charleston? Oh my goodness gracious, is that a beautiful town! With every sight and sound I became more determined to bring my family back there someday so I could experience it with them (It is hard to enjoy a trip without the folks you want to share it with beside you).

As I’ve started traveling from time to time I’ve taken a queue from my adventurous counterparts at SL and started making it a point to try something new in each place if possible. In Charleston, I had my first Monte Cristo Sandwich and it was right up my alley. I ate it in the cafe of a beautiful hotel right downtown. The flavors were a unique combination for me: Ham, cheese, battered and toasted bread drizzled with a sweet fruit preserves and sprinkled with confectioner’s sugar. It was part lunch, part breakfast, part sandwich, part dessert, and all the way good!

So when Martha White offered to guest post I got to nosing around for what recipe I thought would appeal the most to everyone and as soon as this skillet came before my eyes, my heart just settled on it.

This recipe is quick to throw together and feeds six people. I like strawberry preserves with mine but feel free to use whichever you like best. I also omit the turkey and use additional ham in it’s place. Lunchmeat ham works just fine!

Monte Cristo Skillet –
  • 1 (6 oz.) package Martha White® Cotton CountryTM Cornbread Mix
  • Crisco® Original No-Stick Cooking Spray
  • 1-1/2 cups chopped cooked turkey
  • ½ cup chopped cooked ham
  • 1-1/2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons honey mustard, divided
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ cup Smucker's® Currant Jelly
  • Powdered sugar
  1. PREPARE cornbread mix according to package directions, except bake in a 10½-inch cast iron skillet (cornbread will be thin). Remove cornbread from skillet; cool and cut into cubes. Wipe out skillet with paper towels; spray generously with no-stick cooking spray.
  2. HEAT oven to 350°F. Place cornbread cubes in skillet. Top with turkey, ham and cheese. In medium bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon mustard, salt and pepper until well blended. Pour evenly over ingredients in skillet. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until set and lightly browned.
  3. MELT currant jelly by warming slightly. Add 1 tablespoon honey mustard; whisk to blend.
  4. REMOVE skillet from oven. Cut in wedges, sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve with currant jelly and mustard sauce.

Love Your Cast Iron?

Be sure and pick up this month’s special Cast Iron issue of Taste Of The South. It is filled to the BRIM with delicious recipes for your cast iron skillet, gorgeous food photography,

and those sweet people even put my name on the cover!

I don’t know who is more tickled, me or my mother!

In this issue of Taste of the South, Paula Deen, Myself, Lucy Buffett,

and many others share some of their special Cast Iron cookware memories.

These skillets, pots, and pans aren’t just cookware for us, they’re part of our heritage.

I’d love to hear if you have any heirloom cast iron memories in the comments below!


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  1. Susan says

    I have the iron skillet that belonged to my great Grandmother, my Grandmother, my Mother and now me. My Mother used it until I was almost grown. It was the only thing my Mother had of her Mother’s. She passed away when my Momma was 5. It was so well used it had become thin and then the handle broke off. My Father took it…had the handle reattached and then painted it….black on outside and white on the inside to look like it did when it was new. He made a special holder for it and it’s hanging on my kitchen wall with a recipe for the chocolate pie filling that my Mother always made in it. It is a precious family treasure that will be passed on to my daughter!

  2. Jane says

    I love seeing these postings about cast iron!. I have a cast iron skillet that’s well over a hundred years old, and three others that are at least 60 years old. My mother gave me the first one and when she died, I inherited the others. To me they are precious beyond any monetary value. I just used two of them yesterday, a great pot roast with fantastic gravy…. and an upside down cake… But nothing fries potatoes like cast iron….. and on and on. I have so many beautiful, shiny pots and pans that just take up space…. I always use my heavy old antiques…. A few years ago, for Christmas my daughter bought me a cast iron dutch oven…. it sits permanently on my stove top. I use it so often…. and by the way, I store my iron skillets in my oven. I even leave them in when I’m baking if I don’t need the shelf space. Once they’ve been well seasoned, they never need soap… just use a soft brush and hot water and they are once again ready to use. Can’t beat the good old things……..

    BTW…. I’m also a southern girl… my entire family was born and raised in east Tennessee. So, obviously pinto beans, fried chicken….. and all those delicious foods that we never forget, were part of my upbringing and even today, a big part of our cooking.

  3. Kathy says

    My grandma got married in 1905. They had little but she had her cast iron. She was 80 when I was born. I remmeber standing by the wood cook stove in her kitchen and watching her stoke the fire to make corn bread in her iron skillet. Mom always made our thanksgiving dressing in a monster size iron skillet. We never had cake pans – we used different size skillets to make beautiful layers. When I touch grandama’s or mom’s pieces they are with me. When I was a new bride we went to visit a preacher living in the mountains. His wife had a massive collection of iron skillets hanging in her kitchen. They had six grown boys and countless grandchildren. She cooked every meal in her skillets. Just cooked our families meal tonight in a new lodge skillet. Why would anyone choose another cookware? My son’s and grandchildren will enjoy these pieces – no doubt.

  4. Jean Cowan says

    I’m gonna have to make this for my husband. I was showing this recipe to him and he said it sounded like the sandwiches we had at Pattis Restaurant in Grand Rivers, KY. That’s been about 15 years ago! I was surprised that he remembered it.

  5. Doris Harris says

    I can not make cornbread in any other kind of skillet except cast iron.
    I have other cookware but nothing else comes close when making cornbread.
    What stores have the Monte Cristo skillets?

    • Jane says

      Doris, l’m with you! There’s no baking pan or skillet ever made that can turn out corn bread as good as an old fashioned cast iron skillet. With a nice crust on the bottom…. If I have some left over I even warm it up in my iron skillet. ,

  6. Ellen says

    I can not live without my cast iron! I learned to cook with cast iron. I remember when my mama taught me how to make cornbread in her square cast iron skillet that was saved just for cornbread. I didn’t know that cornbread came any way but squares! I inherited that skillet and several more plus have added quite a few more of my own. Now my daughter cooks with cast iron (that I have past down to her)!

  7. says

    My mom used a small round skillet to make cornbread. I have this small skillet and I make cornbread in it and always think of my mom. I am 57 and cannot remember a time when we did not have the little round skillet.

  8. says

    I am the proud owner of two round iron skillets and another that bakes cornbread into individual wedges. One of the skillets was given to me by my Mom and it is over a hundred years old. I also store mine in my oven. Such a good place. I also use Martha White cornmeal. There’s none better.

  9. says

    I love your receipes and all your post, I just bought the Taste of the South and made the roasted chicken and vegetables for Sunday Lunch, Very good! I to have my family Black skilletts, Love to make pineapple upside cake in them. Have corn muffins and muffins pans, I have no idea how old they are. Strange how all this comes back around to younger generations. Thanks for all your sharing.
    I plan to go to the cornbread festivial this spring. Hope to see you there. A neighbor,

  10. says

    Hi Christy, I have really enjoyed all of your posts and recipes, I sent you a message a few weeks ago, about your Baked Squash Casserole, when ever I try to print the recipe out, it comes out in very large print, and will only print part of the recipe.Just thought you would like to know, Any other recipe I have tried, comes out ok, the only one I really, really want is the Baked Squash. Any way, back to the question at hand, Cast Iron pots, I had my Grandmothers Large Dutch Oven, she said she got it from her mom, she passed it down to me and recently I passed it to my daughter, so it has been in the family now for 5 generations, and still cooks good.

  11. Robert says

    My grandma used to make her chocolate gravy in a iron skillet and it was goooood. Not only would she make for breakfast.She would make it for sunday dinner we had at her house to pour over a box cake she would make. Everyone loved it there never was any left.I do not know who has the skillet,but I would love to have.

  12. Lynda says

    I too have my mom’s cast iron skillets, one small and one large, plus a cornstick pan. Many fond memories of good food cooked in those pans! Also, I have my mom’s set of Wearever pots and pans she got when she married my dad in 1954. The old wood handles were replaced in the 1980’s (by the Cutco man…best knives ever made!) and I use them every day.Recently my aunt gave me some Wearever pans that belonged to my grandmother, and she even had the original sales slip…from 1945!! Since both my mom and grandma are gone now, I treasure all of these pans.
    P.S. I had my first Monte Cristo sandwich at the old Opryland theme park in my home town of Nashville TN. They were awesome! I had one every trip to the park. Gee I miss Opryland!!

  13. MOLLY says

    My Mama has a cast iron skillet that is totally smooth on the inside bottom and black as the ace of spades. Nothing sticks in that pan! I’d love to have it, but probably my sister will inherit it since she lives with and cares for Mama who is now 96 years old! She doesn’t cook anymore, but in her heyday she could
    literally put on a feed to end them all. Folks would come from all around to
    put their feet under Mama’s table. Even the hobo’s who “rode the rails” at the
    end of WWII would find their way to our house to be served a plate!

    • Jane says

      Molly, when you mentioned hobos it rang such a memory bell with me. when I was little (60 years ago) we lived -close to a rainroad. My mother always fed them….. and they were very gracious and grateful to her. Nowadays, you’d never dream of letting a stranger come into your house like that. But, my mother believed you never let anyone go hungry if you could help it. I’m a little like that now.

      BTW…. on the other side of the rainroad tracks was an old hobo camp right on the banks of the river. When I was nine years old I use to sneak over there and visit with them. They were very kind and gentle and would not cuss or say ugly words in front of me. I’d sit on a wooden apple box turned on its side and listen to them play their harmonicas and sing. I’d join in singing with them………..

      Can you even believe what would happen to a little girl today?

      My dad threatened to switch my legs if I ever went over there again. I never once felt frightened………. but today I’m afraid to walk in a parking lot alone at night…….

  14. Tom Stewart says

    As A young boy growing up in a family with 6 kids, Meals were an important time for us. My MOM had sereral cast iron pans, But her favorite was a deep 14″ fry skillet with a hinged lid! She used it all the time and My Grand-Father (MOM’S DAD), on Sunday mornings would use it to fry bacon and then make “RED EYE GRAVY” (Coffee and the bacon fat!).
    My younger Sister ended up with the skillet and she lives in California still, I live in North Carolina. And she and I have a game we play…It’s called “STEAL THE SKILLET”! When I go to visit her, I always find a way to steal it and bring it home with me and when she comes to see me, she steals it back!
    At least for a time, it’s mine!

  15. Shelley says

    This comment is about Martha White. In my town in TN there used to be a plant for Martha White there and my grandfather, who had moved into town from the farm, worked there. My grandfather had white (gray) hair and they told me that his hair was white because of the white flour there. I was so little that I believed them! Guess I’ve always been gullible.

    Another comment about Martha White…when I first moved to TX 3 decades ago, we could not get Martha White flour or cornmeal here. So every time I visited TN I would bring back supplies of Martha White’s Hotrize Cornmeal mix. Gotta have that cornbread. BTW, we can get Martha White here now.

  16. juanita says

    Does anyone know of someone that calls them “Spider” or Black Spider? That is what my husbands mother called them. When we got married in 1965 and she asked me to bring her that Black Spider, I thought what is she talking about. She kept hers hanging on a wall in the kitchen and I have about 14 hanging on my wall and about 2 others that are not hanging on the wall. I now have one of hers as well as several of my mothers. I can not imagine using anything else to fry food in or make homemade fudge, or cream gravy.

  17. Beverly says

    Got the magazine, loved it EXCEPT there was no picture of your smiling face on there!! My daughter has my grandmother’s corn pone skillet, she thought that was the funniest but greatest thing ever. My grandmother would bake white soup beans and bacon in her skillet when we went camping and I have never been able to replicate the taste of that one particular recipe. My mother is gone now too and that is a recipe gone forever – so that is why it is so important to share those family recipes. See you at the cornbread festival. My daughter and I are making it a mother/daughter weekend.

  18. BRYAN says

    I have found nothing better than black iron skillets and other black iron pots for most cooking. The corn bread cannot be made in any other type of skillet and still be called corn bread! I hope you will publish some of the recipes from the corn bread festival. Thanks for your work, I always look forward to making your recipes.
    God bless you and your loved ones.

  19. LisaG says

    How excited were you to have your name right there on the cover of Taste of the South magazine? I love my cast iron. My granny taught me how to cook so many things in hers. When she passed away, I wasn’t thinking abot her skillets and I don’t know what happened to them. I have certainly tried to make up for that with my current collection and I have skillets ranging in size from 4″ to 13″. And I have to agree with Bryan (above) if you didn’t cook it in a cast iron skillet, it just “ain’t” cornbread!

  20. Frani says

    When I got married, the first thing my daddy bought for us was a cast iron skillet. That was 50 years ago and I still love that one and all the others I have acquired. (The one daddy bought me is now highly collectable.)

  21. Jane SS says

    Christy, My mama is no longer with me but I always remember her using her cast iron skillet to make all of our meals. I always commented that I wanted one but didn’t buy one because I didn’t know how to season one. Well this Christmas My Aunt bought me a set and it was the best gift ever. Because it reminds me of my mama and thats the best gift ever. Can’t wait to try this recipe in it.

  22. Suzy says

    I picked up a copy of the magazine this weekend — loved it. My husband collects (and cooks) in cast iron. We have lots of pieces of every size and shape. I have skillets and griddles that belonged to my grandmother and I use them often. I agree with LisaG — it just isn’t cornbread unless it’s baked in cast iron!

  23. Susan Riggs says

    I have the cast iron cornstick mold that my mother used to make cornsticks for our family. My father loved them. I find it extremely difficult to clean, so I don’t use it very often, but it still brings back happy memories.

  24. Jennie says

    WOW, Christy! Right there between Paula Deen and Lucy Buffett! What an honor :) You mean people cook cornbread in something besides an iron skillet?? I own several “hand-me-down” iron skillets, but my favorite belonged to my grandmother and she made the best “steak and gravy” ever in it. As a little girl, (staying with her because my Momma worked outside the home) I watched her every move! She’s been gone for over 30 years now, and I was honored to get that skillet. It’s deep and has a lid….perfect for making steak and gravy! BTW, I don’t wash my cornbread skillets, just wipe them out with a paper towel…perfect cornbread every time!

  25. Diane says

    My Grandma Birdie gave me her cast iron skillet when I got married. For 20 something years I tried to make cornbread like my daddy made in my skillet, but it always stuck in one spot, even though I heated it in the oven just like he taught me. And, my cornbread was never as good as my grandmother’s. I finally gave up and made cornbread from a pouch in a glass baking dish.

    A few years ago when I was going through a box of my family memories, I found where my grandmother had cut the recipe off a a Martha White cornmeal bag and wrote on the back, “This is the recipe I use to make my corn bread. My skillet sticks though, so I have to add flour.” I cried. I had been making cornbread like my grandmother after all!

  26. margaret says

    hello christy i have my mother s cast iron . iuse it all the time, it is veryold iuse a lot of cast iron . please let me know when you are going to be in south pittsburg .see you there

  27. Rhonda says

    My mom cooks in hers on a daily basis. She make the best liver and onion gravy in them, besides her cornbread, pineapple upside down cakes, biscuits. Oh my the list just goes on and on. I personally don’t have one, but I am thinking of getting ,myself some. My sister has them and loves them just about as much as my mom : ) Thanks : )

  28. Mica says

    My family is originally from Eastern Kentucky – cast iron skillets – what else!! Daddy (87 years young)has been living in Florida for the past twenty years and I am in Arizona. When I go visit, one highlight is going to get (if he has run out, and to get some for myself to bring home) Martha White’s self-rising buttermilk corn meal mix, and buttermilk by the gallon – what a dream! He, of course, has to give me a ‘how to take care of his skillets’ lesson every time! Needless to say, that is how I season mine, but that is not important! We have fun making enough cornbread and hoe cakes for an army – and not one measure does he do! The stuff life is made of….

    Side note – about 7 years ago, I found a cast iron wok at a flea market – what a dream! I can make fried potatoes like no other!!

  29. Debbie says

    I inherited my great-grandmother’s small and large iron skillets. My Maw Maw was a fabulous cook. I watched her cook fried chicken in the large skillet and corn bread in the small one. Those skillets hold a life-time of memories and good cookin’. Every time I use them I think of Maw Maw, how she taught me to cook, and how much she loved me–her first great-grandchild. Soon I will be teaching my little granddaughter to cook in those precious skillets so she will have cherished memories too–of cooking with her MiMi.

  30. Rebecca McCoy says

    My late mother-in-law and her sister both gave me cast iron skillets that they had used so of course they were seasoned. What a blessing ! I also have a couple I received in a set as a wedding gift. I keep mine seasoned by spraying them with oil before putting them away in the bottom drawer of my stove. They get more seasoned everytime the oven is on.. Thats the way my Momma did hers, too. I use them a lot, love to make cornbread and of course biscuits in them. One of my beloved sons put one of my skillets in the dishwasher once and it did not hurt it at all, still seasoned and non-stick ! I like to say I am blessed among Southern cooks to have several seasoned cast iron skillets !!

  31. Sandra Drummond says

    My mother passed away in 2008. I inherited her cast iron cookware. She had skillets of all sizes, pots. Dutch ovens. I added these to my small collection. I use a skillet almost everyday. Each time I pick up one of these items I think about her. I have so many memories of her using these and I enjoy remembering the memories of her cooking and of her. I hope to pass these along to my daughter and grandchildren.

  32. Michelle Hall says

    My mama grew up in hard times. Where they lived, in the mountains of NC, the terrain was rough, and the weather could get bad.
    Back in the 1940’s there wasn’t much but love to keep a family going.
    Mama used to tell me stories of her childhood…and one that sticks in my mind the best involves a cast iron cooking pans:

    Food being scarce, they ate what they had. Grandma would get up way before dawn and start the wood stove to warm the icicles off the nail heads inside of the house before everyone else got woke up.
    She’d make a modest breakfast for them, with homemade biscuits, and cooking whatever precious little meat they had in a cast iron skillet.
    Then at “dinner time” (or lunch, as some folks say,) she’d feed everyone the “big” meal of the day, which usually consisted of dried beans that she’d cooked all day in a cast iron dutch oven, some sort of greens, and corn bread that had been baked in her cast iron skillet.
    Almost every night, they had that leftover corn bread…they would crumble it up into a cup of the “likker” from the greens or in some buttermilk, which was a “treat” for them.
    That was supper, and they were grateful for it!

  33. Deborah says

    One of my favorite Cast Iron Memories is of when I would go to visit my grandmother(Mammy) in Kentucky for the summer. She used her cast iron skillet everyday and just about every meal! One of my absolute favorite things she would make was Chocolate Gravy! Yes, you heard me CHOCOLATE!!!!! It was a special treat she would just whisk up for us! It was sooooo good served over her homemade biscuits and a glass of cold milk to wash it down! It is the simple things in life that are truly the best!

  34. says

    Just this weekend I picked up a cast iron 10 1/4 inch skillet.

    I’m still a little “scared” about the cast iron cooking bit but I thought I should really give it a “whirl”, I mean there are so many people that seem to LOVE cooking with cast iron (for years and years, generation to generation) so I put my big girl panties on and found a Lodge brand that said it was “pre-seasoned”. I figured the first part of the seasoning thing was already done for me …… now I just have to keep it that way.

    Now I will be looking forward to trying some of these recipes and then maybe making some of my own (in my dreams) using this pan.

  35. Tammy says

    My mother has my dad’s mother’s BIG ol’ iron skillet ~ and a few others. The one I’m talking about is about 4 inches deep and probably 12 inches across. Well, there are a LOT of us at Thanksgiving dinner. She had always made her delicious gravy in that skillet. One year, she went to pour the hot, just made gravy from the skillet to a couple of cute little pitchers (gravy boats do not work on our table ~ take up too much space!)…just as she went to pour it out, her wrist gave out under the really heavy weight of it all and HOT gravy went right down her legs. Right there in the kitchen, she shucked off her pants! Right in front of my boyfriend who I had only been dating a few months! Luckily, she was smart enough to do that and she avoided being scalded! But, to this day ~ 12 years later, he asks me if my mom has done any encores to the panty dance!

  36. Lisa says

    My mother always fixed dessert for my daddy who had an insatiable sweet tooth. Homemade pies (she had a pie recepie that would turn into chocolate, lemon or coconut meringue depending on what she had), cobblers, fried pies, pound cake both vanilla and chocolate and banana pudding. But my favorite was the pineapple upside down cake she made in an iron skillet. The skillet she used for this was very deep. I can still see her mixing up that batter (I always got to lick the bowl) and the smell of that cake as she flipped onto a plate from that old iron skillet was just heavenly. I haven’t had one in a long time but I can almost smell and taste it now just thinking about it……..

  37. Heidi says

    Hi! I too am a dummy when it comes to cast iron. I remember my mother having one when I was a kid but I dont know what happened to it. I did not grow up in the south but I live in FL now and my husband was born and raised in FL. I felt brave when I read this post and I went out and bought an iron skillet and and an iron dutch oven.I feel like I am missing out on so much without cooking in iron.

    I am so sad I cannot find Taste of the South magazine here. I really wanted that issue with all the cast iron recipes and such. Anyone know where I can get a copy of that? Thanks.

  38. Ann says

    I have my grandma’s cast iron skillet that is only used to make cornbread (and sometimes fried eggs). I have a friend who unknowingly used her husband’s grandma’s skillet to cook something else in and he told her in no uncertain terms that it was only for corn bread!!! We still laugh about it. I love mine!!

  39. Amby says

    My skillets all came from Mom, and Grandmother. I have one that Grannie’s broke and is welled back together. It was one of the first skillets she got as a newly wed in 1900.
    Everyone that is afraid of “Seasoning” Don’t be. You can not hurt cast iron; if it gets sticky wash really well grease with crisco and put in 250 oven for 2-3 hours on a cookie sheet. Comes out brand new.
    Cornbread, fried anything and the best pineapple upside down cake you can make comes from this one pan.
    Born and raised in Alabama and could not live without my skillets!!

    • says

      WOW, 1900! I bet that is one of your most prized possessions. I would love to see it sometime. If you happen to follow me on Facebook I would love it if you could post a picture of it sometime. I am so impressed. Of course I love antiques and heritage.

  40. Shirley Simchik says


    I’d love to come to see you this weekend at the cornbread festival, but I’m currently bedridden with divertictus.

    Am IMissing you daily recipes or are you too busy to send them daily anymore.

    We Unaers are so proud of your success!


  41. Julia says

    I wish I could use a real cast iron skillet – I have one that is coated on the outside purchased that way due to having a glass cooktop stove – I have been warned never to use a regular cast iron skillet on the top as it damages it.


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