CCKC Chef and Lead Instructor Jill Garcia Schmidt recently did some myth busting in her live Facebook segment, ‘Hey Good Lookin’, What’s Cookin’?’ of Ask A Chef.
The Topic: Cast Iron Pans
1) You can’t wash cast iron pans with soap and water.
2) Once a cast iron pan rusts, you can no longer use it.
3) You can’t cook with acids in cast iron pans.
“You can’t wash cast iron pans with soap and water.”
Yes, you can. True, soap and water CAN be the enemy of cast iron. But, as long as you rinse and dry it completely, it will all be fine.
“Once a cast iron pan rusts, you can no longer use it.”
Wrong. You can generally remove the rust. Cast iron is a workhorse, and can last you a lifetime with proper care. (Keep reading for tips on how to remove the rust!)
“You can’t cook with acids in cast iron pans.”
Wrong again. Much like the soap & water myth, yes, acids CAN damage your cast iron pan, but as long as you don’t leave the acid in the pans, your pans will forgive you. After cooking, make sure to follow Chef Jill’s advice for cleaning and drying the pan.
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Seasoning Your Cast Iron Pan…
Let’s say you haven’t been taking great care with your cast iron cookware and you thought you wrecked it – or maybe you got a GREAT deal on some rusted cast iron cookware at a yard sale! – here’s how you can bring it back to life. It’s a 2-Step Process: 1) Season it. 2) Clean it.
Before you start prepping your cookware for the seasoning process, preheat your oven to 200 degrees. You’ll need Lard (or Manteca) for the seasoning. You could use another high-burning fat or solid oil, such as shortening or Crisco, but just don’t get a flavored Crisco! Coconut oil is OK but not ideal, as it has a lower burning temp.
(Side note from Chef Jill: Keep lard in your pantry. Lard often gets a bad rep, but is actually has less trans fat and saturated fat than shortening. It’s ‘pure’ fat, without other additives.)
Take a big hunk of the lard and rub it on ALL the surfaces of your cast iron pan, including back, sides, handle, etc. Set the greased pan upside-down on a sheet tray with a lip (so the oil doesn’t drip in your oven.) Put in your low-temp oven for 8+ hours. Chef Jill suggests placing it in the overnight while you sleep, and when you wake up, turn off the oven, remove your sheet pan and let it cool for 30+ minutes. Wipe your pan with a clean towel (not a paper towel because it will leave behind paper residue.) Don’t use a towel that will break your heart if it gets stained. Rub. Rub. Rub. When you feel like you have removed all of the rust, dry your pan by putting it back in the oven (which is NOT turned on at this point) or on your stovetop.
If your pan feels smooth and devoid of rust, SUCCESS! If not, you may need to season it again with this same process.
Then, on to Step 2 – Cleaning it…
Put some kosher salt (a small handful) into your dry pan and rub it down with circular motions to clean it. Once clean, rinse it and dry it completely. Use this salt cleaning technique every time you use the pan. Once clean and dry, add a bit of high-temp oil (canola, avocado oil, grapeseed oil, etc., not olive oil). Rub that oil on the pan’s surfaces and allow to dry.
The more you season and clean your cast iron pan, the more non-stick it will be. And if you take care of it, it should last you forever.
Have a cast iron grill? Season and clean it the same way. If the cast iron grill parts won’t fit in the oven, you could season them in a low-temp grill instead.
Once your cast iron pan is in ship-shape condition, you know what sounds good? Make some deep-dish pizza in it! Chef Jill recommends starting with some garlic butter in the bottom of the pan. Add your pizza dough and press it out. Add sauce, cheese and your other toppings. She like to start her pizza in the cast iron pan on the stovetop to get a crusty bottom, then finish it in the oven for a crunchy, delicious pizza. And she gave a special tip for making flatbread on your cast iron – cook it on the BACK of your pan for an in-direct heat that will give you a perfect flatbread pizza!
We love to see what you create in your own kitchen. Post pictures of your before/after cast iron cleaning projects and tag us @kcculinary!
I don’t know about you, but this has me itchin’ to cook with my cast iron pan! It’s dependable, durable, super affordable, making a welcome comeback, and will last a lifetime. It may be old-fashioned and remind you of grandma’s kitchen (which isn’t really a bad thing, is it?), but when it comes to cookware, the cast iron skillet is not going anywhere, much less the way of the dinosaur. And when it comes to teaching us how to use it in this Wednesday’s Online Cooking Class, there’s nobody better suited for the job than one of our most popular instructors, Chef Richard McPeake. Chef is excited to show off his own brand of culinary expertise as he walks you through the art of cast iron cooking while teaching you how to prepare some of his favorite southern-inspired dishes like Southern Fried Chicken Tenders, Acadian Corn Maque Choux (pronounced mock shoo) and Cheesy Corn & Jalapeno Beer Bread. Details & registration @ https://bit.ly/2WUbaet
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CLICK HERE to watch Chef Jill’s ‘Ask A Chef’ video segment as she shows you how to care for your cast iron pans!