May 30, 2011

Fact #323: The truth

I've been posting on this blog for 323 straight days. That's a long time. I feel like we've really gotten to know each other over these past months. I feel like I can trust you.

So I'm gonna tell you the truth.

The truthiest truth I can truth.

Are you ready?


*deep breath*

I don't have any idea how to take care of my cast iron skillet. (Hangs head in shame.)

A few years ago I got a cast iron pan, and I've been using it for most of my stovetop cooking ever since. When Freddie moved his stuff out, I insisted vociferously that he let me keep the skillet because it's seriously one of my favorite pieces of kitchen equipment.

But the truth is, I do not understand the basic care and maintenance of cast iron cookware.

I'm supposed to season it, right? And I'm not supposed to wash it with soap and a scrubber like my other dishes, right? Well... imagine that I have occasionally washed it with soap, and don't actually know if I've ever seasoned it. Is that bad? How bad is it?

What should I be doing to make my skillet happier? And also to make myself feel more like a top chef and less like a hack and a destroyer of quality cookware?

Thank you for listening to my truthiness and not judging me. (And if you did judge me, thanks for keeping it to yourself. And if you didn't keep it to yourself, thanks for nothing.)

Til tomorrow!


Nate said...

It's ruined. Send it to me for proper disposal.


j/k. A little soap never hurt anyone. I think the "no soap" rule is twofold: 1) you want some grease on the pan (seasoning), and 2) there are "pores" in the iron that the soap flavor can collect in and flavor your food down the line. No biggie, but for realz keep it out of the sink except for a quick rinse and then be sure it dry it. It can and will rust.

My routine goes like this:
* cook something delicious
* leave the pan to cool and get crusty
* regret that I left it since now everything's crusty
* use my little rounded-corner square bamboo scraper to get the big chunks off
* turn on a burner and splash a little water in the pan so the crusty bits get wet
* as they heat they usually come right off with the scraper or a sponge
* you can also put some salt in the pan and use a sponge or paper towel to push it around and the salt acts like an abrasive (get the salt out when you're done)
* the pan gets ripping hot, and I put some refined veggie oil in it (super high smoke point)
* I use a paper towel to rub the oil all over the inside of the pan
* bam, clean pan, non-stick surface

If you *really* need to re-season your pan (I bet you don't), there are lots of how-tos. I think you use vegetable shortening all over the pan upside-down over a drip catcher in a 400+ degree oven for ... an hour? Then the pores fill with delicious veggie fat. Mmm.

Your secret is safe with me!

Laurel said...

Thanks Nate!! When I get back to Pittsburgh, operation Cast-Iron-Resuscitation will begin!