Cast Iron

5 Links to Read Before Caring for Cast Iron

February 19, 2014

Each week, we’ll be sharing a comprehensive list of links to help you master something new in the kitchen. Culinary greatness, here you come.

Today: How to foster a lasting, loving relationship -- with your cast iron pan.

A well-seasoned cast iron pan will take you far in life. It's the key to perfect frittatas, cornbread, pies, pancakes, and many more classics that make their way into your kitchen. And when you're finished cooking, it even doubles as a serving dish. But to unleash its true potential, you have to treat your cast iron the way you want to be treated: with care and respect. These links will show you how.

Frittata with Spring GreensChicken Under a BrickButtermilk Bacon Grease CornbreadGrilled Cheese

  • A comprehensive guide to caring for your cast iron. (Serious Eats.)
  • Tips for finding the perfect pan. (Food52.)
  • Here's how to remove rust from that vintage skillet you picked up from the thrift shop. (The Kitchn.)

Cast iron whisperers -- tell us your secrets in the comments!

14 Comments

AntoniaJames February 19, 2014
My secret? Because cast iron heats up so well unattended in a hot oven, it's ideal for quickly roasting vegetables. I put the pan in the oven after turning it on, letting it get hot as the oven heats. Meanwhile, I prep the vegetables. They go into that screaming hot pan, in the hot oven and before you know it, perfection! I do the same thing when prepping my spatchcocked roast chickens. The vegetables that go in first get nice and hot right away. I do put them under the bird however during the first 20 minutes or so, to prevent them from caramelizing too quickly. Oh, how I adore my large cast iron skillet. ;o)
 
Author Comment
Lauren K. February 20, 2014
Love this tip!
 
AntoniaJames February 20, 2014
Thanks, Lauren! Of course, I heat my sheet pans, too, when roasting larger quantities of vegetables. (Doesn't everyone? It's really effective, especially when NOT using parchment, to create a lot of steam right away, which you can then release from the oven after 5 - 10 minutes by opening the door, or not, as you please -- a carryover trick from artisanal bread baking.) Here's a link to my favorite way of roasting a spatchcocked chicken in a large cast iron skillet, a method limited only by your imagination: http://food52.com/recipes/19677-spatchcocked-chicken-with-onions-brats-and-herbs<br />;o)
 
Nancy M. February 19, 2014
My neighbor borrowed my cast iron skillet and thought it seemed a little dark so she scrubbed it nice and clean for me. I could have cried.
 
Author Comment
Lauren K. February 20, 2014
Oh no! Good thing you can always re-season :)
 
Alan S. February 23, 2014
I told my son to wash the dishes once, he for the first time ever listened to me. When I came back in the kitche,he did the same to my pan. The heartbreaker was he was so proud of how he cleaned it.
 
Gretchen @. February 19, 2014
I found this originally from Cook's Illustrated and it is hands down the best way to season your cast iron skillet whether you are 'renovating' an older one or want to season a new one. The biggest thing here is a time investment but well worth it. I have 'renovated' three old cast iron pans this way and they look like new and the non-stick properties are top notch.<br />The article is by Sheryl Canter and the link is: http://sherylcanter.com/wordpress/2010/01/a-science-based-technique-for-seasoning-cast-iron/
 
AntoniaJames February 19, 2014
The Sheryl Canter piece is so interesting and helpful, not to mention, well written! Thank you, Gretchen, for posting the link. ;o)
 
Author Comment
Lauren K. February 20, 2014
What a great resource! Thanks for sharing, Gretchen.
 
Pat I. February 23, 2014
How does one "renovate" a cast iron skillet? I have one that's sides and exterior are incredible encrusted and needs to go "back to basics".<br />Thanks,
 
Bill S. February 23, 2014
The best way to strip a pan is with Lye.
 
Stacy February 28, 2014
Pat in SoCal - when I found one at Goodwill this random person (who seemed well versed in the ways of cast iron) suggested I go pick up a putty knife at the hardware store and chip off the crud using that. It worked like a charm (black bits did end up all over the kitchen!), I de-rusted with vinegar, and the pan could be reseasoned without any harsh chemicals.
 
Bill S. February 28, 2014
Lye is safe.
 
Stacy February 28, 2014
Bill, I totally agree that it's safe. Sorry for the unclear comment. I was just offering an alternate option that had worked for me. Cheers to cast iron cooking and what works for each or us =)