You may have recently picked up a phenomenal new piece of kitchenware made from cast-iron and are wondering just how the heck you are supposed to use this heavy pan? Follow these tips and tricks to unleash the full potential of this awesome kitchen tool and ensure it lasts a lifetime!
Preparing The Seasoned Base
We're not talking pumpkin spice here. One of the many cool features of cast-iron is the natural build up of a seasoned base, meaning a type of oil that bonds to the bottom of the pan which changes the flavor of your dishes, forever.
First you need to scrub down to the iron bottom. Feel free to use soap here, and really, really, scrub it out. Make sure you get both sides of the pan and the handle! Finish by rinsing it under hot water and letting it dry out completely.
How To Season Your Cast-Iron
Now that your pan is thoroughly dry, you'll want to add a thin layer of oil (preferably lard or bacon grease) to cover both sides of the pan. Wipe off any excess oil as this will make the surface sticky. Place the pan inside an oven at 450-500°F for approximately one hour before turning off your oven to allow the pan to cool.
NOTE: Put a layer of foil on the bottom of the oven to catch any oil drippings!
Next you'll learn how to cook with your seasoned pan and make incredible home-style food!
Cooking With Your Cast-Iron
Now that your pan is ready to go, you're probably itching to try out your first recipe! First, make sure you preheat the pan by letting it sit at your desired temperature for 5-10 minutes so that the pan is evenly heated.
When cooking, try to let the food sit in one place, and keep flipping to a minimum to ensure it stays crispy. You can also try finishing it off in the oven on a broil setting!
Cleaning Like A Pro
Arguably one of the most important things to know about looking after your cast-iron equipment is the proper way to clean it while maintaining the seasoned base.
Make sure you begin cleaning while the pan is still relatively warm, otherwise food tends to stick to it. Next, rinsing it with hot water and gentle scrubbing with salt allows you to protect the seasoned base. While using soap isn't the worst thing in the world, try to use it as little as possible!
Dry the cast-iron on a stove top or in the oven and repeat the seasoning process by adding a thin layer of oil and heating it in the oven.
While it seems like a bit of work to go through, the effect is enormous on cooking amazing meals with an incredibly handy tool!