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Seasoning A Cast-Iron Pan


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One way to get the restaurant effect at home is to use a Lodge cast iron large skillet pre-heated as hot as your range and smoke alarm will allow. 

I don't think there's a greater pan on this planet. And my scallops turn out great in it. So does the steak. It still won't keep me from coming to eat at your house from time to time though, Michael. I can't make Key Lime Pie for shit.

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Raisa, you did nothing wrong.  You just didn't have a 750 degree cooking surface at home.  That's what does it. 

One way to get the restaurant effect at home is to use a Lodge cast iron large skillet pre-heated as hot as your range and smoke alarm will allow.  Use a fine ground sea salt and a smidge of fine ground pepper to season (there's physics and chemistry involved here) and use as little canola or peanut oil as possible.  Once you put the scallops in the pan, DO NOT MOVE THEM, that way they will crust.  If the pan is hot enough, the scallops firm and fresh enough, and you are patient enough, even at home you should be able to get the

right crust-to-doneness effect going on with enough practice.  You can also use a bit of flour.

Home cooks should never sell themselves short, it is usually merely a matter of equipment and ingredients.

Thank you Michael! I will be buying one of those pans tomorrow. (These pans have to be seasoned, correct?) I have a pretty heavy duty stove but I am not sure it will get to 750 degrees. But I will try!

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Raisa, you did nothing wrong.  You just didn't have a 750 degree cooking surface at home.  That's what does it. 

One way to get the restaurant effect at home is to use a Lodge cast iron large skillet pre-heated as hot as your range and smoke alarm will allow. 

And the cool thing is that one can actually afford a Lodge pan. Totally reasonable.

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Thank you Michael! I will be buying one of those pans tomorrow. (These pans have to be seasoned, correct?) I have a pretty heavy duty stove but I am not sure it will get to 750 degrees. But I will try!

The lodge pans are already seasoned. And they're cheap-- I think I paid less than $30 for a large one as a gift for someone this past xmas.

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Lodge Logic pans are already seasoned, but still need the little TLC of regular cast iron pans.  The regular Lodge line are NOT seasoned, although the seasoning process is not that hard.

I know this is veering off topic, but with regard to cast iron pans, regardless of the brand, not only is seasoning important, but care after seasoning is jus as important. Improper cleaning can ruin the seasoning. What I do with mine is to just scrub it under hot wate with a scrubber that has no soap in it. Then I dry it with a paper towl and put it away. Never put it in the dishwasher. If somthing should stick to the bottom that won't come off with the scrubber, I put some water in it and put it on the stove and let it come to a boil for a few minutes. That usually loosens whatever is stuck. The one I have shines like a patent leather shoe.

And yes, Lodge makes a plain pan and a pre-seasoned one.

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I remember the last time I was at Restaurant Eve, Todd told me that they use Blue Point (actually, I can't remember the name but I DO remember the word "Blue" in the brand). Can one of the chefs on this site verify this name and/or share their experience?

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I remember the last time I was at Restaurant Eve, Todd told me that they use Blue Point (actually, I can't remember the name but I DO remember the word "Blue" in the brand).  Can one of the chefs on this site verify this name and/or share their experience?

It could be that they use the De Buyer carbon steel "Acier Force Blue" pans at Eve. Carbon steel is not cast iron but it is similar in that it needs to be seasoned. They are heavy and will last a lifetime. I have some of the De Buyer Carbon Plus and I have not used a teflon pan since. --> *

eta: De Buyer Carbon Plus is available at La Cuisine in Old Town.

Edited by Jacques Gastreaux
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I have 3 used cast iron pans. In each case I paid no more than 3.00 per pan at a garage sale. The pans were a bit crudy, some with some rust. To clean them, just put them in your oven the next time you do the self clean cycle. This will breakdown any grease, dirt, or other crap embedded on the pans. It will also santitize them. The pans will then need to be washed and re seasoned (per lodge or Alton Brown's suggestions). With a little work you get practically new pans at a fraction of the cost.

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Jumping on the cast iron bandwagon. I also love cast iron and use it for most everything. Scallops are incredible when made in these pans. I also love making scrambled eggs, salmon, asparagus, steaks and burgers, and I'll stop now. I have 4 frying pans of varying sizes, all purchased at garage sales and cleaned up at home and I also have what I suspect could be the oldest cast iron dutch oven still in existence, the kind of thing you could take on a camping trip (assuming, of course, you go on camping trips. I'm just guessing here). I use all of the cleaning methods mentioned by everyone here and, in desperation, when things really stick, I've put salt in the pan and used both paper towels and scrunched up aluminum foil to get it clean. I reseason the pans after that, though. I also try to season/reseason some of the pans when I use them the first few times, and it seems to work out fine.

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When my mother passed away I inherited a cast iron skillet. A black cast iron skillet. Over one hundred years old which had never been washed and had an uneven crust that had formed from years of frying chicken and pork chops, never having ever been within a yard of a soapsud! About ten years ago I took a cast iron skillet that I bought at K-Paul's in New Orleans in 1979 down to my mom's house and we made pork chops in both skillets. Identical pork chops with flour, egg and fried in Crisco. Her's were better. Noticeably better.

Unfortunately, this tale has a tragic ending: when I went to pick up the skillet from her house I could not find it. And I looked everywhere. Many times. I just cannot tell you how good those pork chops were in the 100+ year old heavily black "crusted" and never washed cast iron skillet. It's a taste that I will literally never know again.

Unless I find who stole that damn skillet!

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I agree with the points made here ...

just as a way of displaying my capacity for trivial information ...

-- if you are interested in what the truly obsessed about cast iron are saying,

go to Ebay ... the finer points of Griswold vs. Wagner vs. Lodge.

-- in the old days, when your cast iron got cruddy, you could put it in the fire

box of your wood stove for a few hours, then re-season (or is that just an

urban myth?)

-- cast iron skillet owners are as protective of their stuff as carbon steel knife

owners ... likely to store the cast iron in the safe deposit box when their

mothers-in-law come to visit, to avoid "a good cleaning with soap and water".

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There's also an element of nostalgia and history to this. The 100+ year old was the same skillet that I remember my grandmother frying chickin in around 1955-a chicken that my grandfather "contributed" from his pen for our Sunday dinner in Goldvein. The same skillet that my mother fried chicken in for our dinner while Alan Ameche scored the touchdown in overtime when the Baltimore Colts beat the New York Giants in overtime in '58. The same skillet that was the last dinner that my mother cooked for me before she passed away decades later.

There's an essay here but for another time.

Edited by Joe H
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There is a short article in today's Wall Street Journal about seasoning cast iron pans and it recommends that they be first be scrubbed with a handfull of salt. Use of salt also has been suggested in some posts above. I'd like to challenge the notion that applying salt to the raw metal prior to seasoning and during cleaning is a good idea. As I understand it, salt corrodes iron. I can't help but think that some salt residue would remain on the metal after the scrubbing and before the seasoning, trapping it there to rust the pan. It also strikes me that usign salt to clean the pan could work salt into the seasoning leaving it there to cause rust. What is the benefit of using salt in the first place, is it the abrasive effect that is desired? Ldoge makes no mention of using salt.

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What is the benefit of using salt in the first place, is it the abrasive effect that is desired?

Exactly. But...but...them walnut hulls is reserved for Boxer-primed brass!

I think the real trick is to season with pig [lard], by using the item as often as possible. Seasoning with vegetable shortening is okay in a pinch. Vegetable oil tends to polymerize too thickly. Avoid corn oil entirely, unless you like a sticky mess. My favorite egg-frying pan is a little old cast-iron number that a friend's mom picked up at a garage sale in Frederick County, where they still abound. I don't know how much sizzling pork fat it's seen, but clearly even more than I've been able to eat so far (and I've been known to host all-bacon extravaganzas).

Also, between one good raging hot cast iron skillet and the oven broiler, it's steak-time all year round, even when I'm too lazy to fire up the TEC infrared. Cast iron...don't equip home without it.

Edited by ol_ironstomach
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Cured or uncured?  Wouldn't cured pig have salt in it?

Sorry, brain fade. Uncured; use lard for the initial seasoning...I didn't mean to say that lard was "okay in a pinch". I believe traditionally, woks were cured with a chunk of pig fat.

That said, it's the continuous use that maintains the pan. So cook, and eat.

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Honestly, my cast iron pans are only what I would call semi-seasoned from regular use. I do clean them, with a small amount of soap, wipe dry immediately and wipe with a tiny pit of oil. They may npt be perfectly seasoned, but there have developed quite a patina to them.

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