Cast iron pans are one of the best – and oldest – tools in the kitchen. There are large, flat griddles, small grills, medium sauté pans and large skillets.
Any way you slice it, cast iron is the way to go for consistent heat throughout the pan and your food as well as versatility and stamina.
One of the best features of a piece of cast iron is its versatility. You can sear pork chops on the stove stop, getting a nice crust on them and then finish them off in the oven without any worry of a handle melting in the process.
Biscuits, brownies, cornbread, protein. You name it, you can probably cook it in a cast iron pan.
Is Cast Iron Naturally Non-Stick?
For fans of Hell’s Kitchen, you know Chef Gordon Ramsay has, in the past, yelled at contestants that unseasoned cast iron isn’t non-stick. The best seasoned pans will appear to have a gloss to them and that means they are non-stick for the most part.
Does this mean that food will never stick in a seasoned pan? Nope. There’s no Teflon coating on grandma’s favorite biscuit-making tool.
But there is a way to make it more non-stick.
Easy Steps to Season Your Cast Iron Pan
How to season your cast iron pan: Seasoning the pan is the key to consistent use for generations to come. Cast iron is pretty much indestructible unless you let it rust. Then you just have scrap iron.
Now, we’re going to make a suggestion that some purists disagree with and that has to do with the use of dish soap to clean the pan first. Some cast iron aficionados insist that using a mild dish soap will ruin the pan.
We say that’s just an old wives’ tale and, well, hokum.
What’s the difference? It’s because you’re going to season it right after its bath that lets you do this. If you weren’t planning to season it, then by all means step away from the soap.
Mild Dish Soap Helps You Get the Pan Clean First
Armed with a scrub brush or s sponge and some mild dish soap, clean the cast iron pan thoroughly. After washing, make sure to rinse liberally and dry it completely, especially drying the crevices on the back side where rust can form.
Your Pan and Your Oven: A Match Made in Heaven
The most important tool in the cast iron seasoning process is your oven. Preheat to about 325 and place a sheet of foil on the bottom rack.
Using a paper towel, apply a thin coat of vegetable oil or other fat on the front and back and place the skillet upside down on the center rack. The aluminum foil will catch any drips from the pan.
Let the pan bake for about an hour and then shut off the oven and allow the pan to cool completely before removing it from the oven.
You will know when it’s time to season again if food starts to stick or it looks rusty.
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