Cast Iron Skillets

Page 2 of Now that we've moved from the grilling and smoking season to the cold winter months, I am looking at investing in my first cast iron skillet. What are ... 39 comments | 2457 Views | Go to page 1 →

  1. #16
    MJAlltheWay24's Avatar
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    I prefer the grill, but I still do like a nice steak on a cast-iron skillet. Haven't cooked much else on it though.
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  2. #17
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    There are a lot of cast iron skillet reviews on YouTube. I watched a couple the other day, there is a cowboy cook who had a series of reviews where he reviews and ranks several different brands. One thing I found out is that top shelf bands are dang expensive, and you have probably never heard of them.

  3. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by NEERFAN View Post
    I have few Lodge brand and use them to death. Season before use and dont use detergent to clean.
    I struggle with not using detergent. I know you aren’t supposed to, but how do you keep it from getting too greasy? I have tried wiping it out with vegetable oil, but that doesn’t seem like enough.

  4. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beechwoodfan View Post
    I struggle with not using detergent. I know you aren’t supposed to, but how do you keep it from getting too greasy? I have tried wiping it out with vegetable oil, but that doesn’t seem like enough.
    Get yourself some Kosher salt. Dump a good sized handful in there and use a wad of paper towels to really push it around.

    Also, when you're seasoning, you don't want any oil pooling, so make sure you put the skillet in upside down in the oven, so that any extra can run out.

  5. #20

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    Blackened fish is another tasty food to cook in the skillet. Do it on the grill.
    No fish in the house. Stove to oven is another advantage.

  6. #21
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    What is the best way to cook a steak on a skillet? I have a friend who swears by searing both sides on his skillet and then putting it on the grill. Is it better just to leave it on the skillet?

    Also, let’s say some idiot washed her skillet and there is rust on it. Can that be rubbed out and reseasoned, or does this idiot have to start over again?

  7. #22
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    As far as brands go, most of the cast iron skillets we have were my mother's. The ones she cooked in before I showed up on the scene. They are almost 70 years old. I have no idea who made them, but you can't tell how old they are by looking at them.

    I have several that I've bought from Publix. They seasoned up nice and I can't tell the difference between using them and the older ones.

  8. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beechwoodfan View Post
    What is the best way to cook a steak on a skillet? I have a friend who swears by searing both sides on his skillet and then putting it on the grill. Is it better just to leave it on the skillet?

    Also, let’s say some idiot washed her skillet and there is rust on it. Can that be rubbed out and reseasoned, or does this idiot have to start over again?
    It seems like everybody's got their own preferred method for cooking steaks. I guess a lot of it depends how you like it done, too. It used to be, when I saw a recipe for using cast iron to cook a steak, it was seared first and then the pan was just put in the oven to finish cooking. But, I just recently saw an episode of Good Eats: Reloaded where he did a "reverse sear". It definitely takes a lot more time, so probably not the route to go when you're already hungry. But, in that instance you slowly cooked the steak in the oven at a very low temperature (200 I think, for about an hour or so) until the internal temperature of the meat reached a certain point. Then you pulled it out, let it rest, and then seared it. Like I said, a much longer process. But he claims it gives you a perfect medium rare steak everytime.

    As to the hypothetical idiot you mentioned...no, he/she does not have to start over with a new pan. But, yes, it will have to be reasoned all over. And that will only come after the rust is removed. Among things that I've seen/heard/used are wire brushes, wire wheel attachments for your drill, vinegar, lots of salt (scrubbed in with a raw potato), using the self-cleaning feature in your oven, sandblasting, and even electrolysis if you're really serious.

    If you do use vinegar, the one thing to remember is when you're done, you really should neutralize the acid in it with some baking soda. Regardless, whatever method you use (and a combination of them might give you the best results), it's going to take some time.

    Just remember to tell your friend that using water, in and of itself, is not a bad thing. (Don't use soap with it, though.) You just need to wipe it off as best you can, but most importantly reheat it IMMEDIATELY. That will get rid of more moisture than you can ever get with a towel.

    I wish @Colonels_Wear_Blue was on here, he'd be able to give you much better ideas of how to treat it.

  9. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by CincySportsFan View Post
    I wish @Colonels_Wear_Blue was on here, he'd be able to give you much better ideas of how to treat it.
    It's been a super busy handful of days for me...that time of the year, PLUS we're trying to get my parents' house packed up to move them into a retirement condo, so I haven't had too much time on here. I've got my eye on this one though, haha, and I'll try to drop some knowledge later on this evening.
    Last edited by Colonels_Wear_Blue; Dec 13, 18 at 04:51 AM.

  10. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChickenWyngz View Post
    Is there much difference in them besides price?
    Old vs. New:

    The biggest two differences between most of the vintage cast iron skillets and the new ones are the weight of the skillets and the surface smoothness.

    The weight is basically a product of the materials the skillets are made with. Vintage cast iron was usually made from metal that was actually mined with specific the purpose of using it for casting, whereas most modern skillets are made of recycled materials. The vintage manufacturers often sought out ores that allowed them to have thinner walls on their skillets, whereas the modern manufacturers generally have somewhat thicker walls because when they use somewhat random recycled steel materials, they rely on the mass/thickness of the material to make sure that there isn't any warping when the metal is heated on the stove top or oven. A modern 10" skillet can literally weigh 1-1/2 to 2 pounds more than a vintage 10" skillet, in some cases.

    Surface smoothness. The cooking surface on most of the vintage cast iron skillets is noticeably more smooth than the cooking surface on a modern skillet. This is because when the vintage skillets were being manufactured, the cost of labor was significantly cheaper and paying someone to machine-grind the skillet surface by hand cost next to nothing. Modern casting companies don't spend the money to have the cooking surface machine-ground because of cost, and they also like to leave the surface with some relatively minor surface grain to enable them to factory-season the skillets and send them out ready to use right off the shelf. Vintage skillets were sold as un-seasoned bare metal, and required that the end user season the skillet themselves.

    That said, the surface grain on decent modern cast iron skillet like a Lodge brand is not enough to cause issues cooking. Some of the cheaper cast iron skillets made overseas, though (like the store brand that you would find at Walmart or any number of outdoor stores), may have an overly-rough surface. With all skillets, the more times you season them and the more frequently you cook on them, the more the seasoning will build up and the smoother the cooking surface will get. That's why getting a vintage skillet from your grandma or great-aunt is a real gift - it comes with years and years of seasoning on it to make everything smooth as glass. I actually have a cast iron skillet that my grandma got as a wedding present back in 1948, and that sucker is smooth enough to ice skate on.

  11. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChickenWyngz View Post
    What's the best way to clean it?
    Cleaning:

    You want to clean any skillet you get before using it, obviously. If it's old and rusty, and/or if you got it from a second-hand store, flea market, auction, or yard sale, then you'll have to strip it and start the seasoning process from scratch, because who knows what the hell has been in it or what has gone on in that thing. I'll cover the cast iron stripping process in a different post.

    Lots of people say never to use soap when you clean a cast iron skillet. That's not necessarily the case, because that "rule" was established when most soaps still were made with lye, which can eat away the seasoning. While it's true you shouldn't go hog-wild on the cooking surface of your skillet with soap, you can still use a basic solution of warm water and a mild dish soap. However, if you can, try to avoid using scouring pads on your skillet - especially metal scouring pads like SOS pads or Chore-Boys. Those can scrape away at your skillet seasoning, particularly when the skillet is still warm.

    You can also get hard-poly pan scrapers and chain mail scrubbers that are specifically made to scrape off difficult cooking gunk without damaging the seasoning of your cast iron skillet.

    One other method that you'll see some cooks use to remove difficult cooked-on gunk is to pour about 1/4 cup or so of salt into the skillet, then use a few tablespoons of vegetable oil to wet the salt a little, and take a paper towel scour the pan out, using the salt as an abrasive. Then after you've scoured things out, you can just rinse off the skillet with warm water. I've found that coarse kosher salt works well for that.
    Last edited by Colonels_Wear_Blue; Dec 13, 18 at 06:03 AM.

  12. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChickenWyngz View Post
    What's the best way to season it?
    Seasoning:

    Like I mentioned in the post above, you should completely strip and re-season any cast iron skillet you get if it's old and rusty, and/or if you got it from a second-hand store, flea market, auction, or yard sale. Also, if you leave the skillet sitting on the stovetop and forget to turn of the heat after you're finished cooking, you can actually burn off the seasoning, and you'll need to re-season it before you cook in it again.

    Seasoning is basically a build up of polymerized fatty acids mixed with carbon that creates a smooth, hard surface on the skillet's cooking surface. To do that, essentially, you want to heat up oil to just below the smoking point, and then allow it to cool slowly and harden.

    When I have a clean, stripped pan (or brand new pan), here's what I do:
    1) Start by putting the cold, clean pan in the cold oven, and then turn the oven on, set to 200°F. After about 5 minutes, I'll pull the warm pan out and rub it down with a coat of Crisco. You only need to use enough Crisco to make the entire surface of the pan glisten...and don't forget to coat the entire thing, including the outside and the handle(s).
    2) Immediately after I've coated the whole thing with Crisco, I'll take a clean dish towel or a sturdy paper-towel and wipe the entire pan down to get off any excess Crisco.
    3) After I've coated it with Crisco and wiped away any excess, I'll put the pan back in the oven - upside down, to prevent any potential oil pooling on the cooking surface - and turn the oven up to 325°F.
    4) After 10 minutes at 325°F, I pull the pan out and rub then entire thing off with again with a clean dish towel or a sturdy paper-towel to get off as much excess Crisco as possible. Even with wiping it off a second time, you're going to end up with some Crisco left on there because it soaks into the pores of the metal, which have expanded open further from the heat.
    5) After wiping the entire skillet off for the second time, I'll put the pan back in the oven (again, upside down) and I'll turn the oven up to 425°F. Once the oven is up to temperature, I'll leave the pan in there at 425°F for an hour and a half.
    6) After the hour and a half at 425°F has passed, I turn the oven off, and I leave the pan in the oven (without opening the door) until it's cooled back down to room temperature - which takes 4 to 6 hours. The pan will come out of the oven at the end of the process with a dark brown to blackish color, which is what you want.

    I personally will repeat the process to get a good 2 or 3 layers of seasoning built up on the skillet before I cook in it, but in all reality, you're fine to cook in it after 1 seasoning process. And furthermore, cooking meat in the skillet - especially doing things like frying bacon, browning beef, or searing steaks - will add to the layer of seasoning in time. The fats in the meat render into oils as you cook them, and help build up the seasoning. That's partly why a lot of people refrain from cleaning their cast iron skillets with soap, opting to just wipe them out thoroughly...because that way the remnant oils from the food they cook will have time to cool down in the skillet and add to the seasoning.

    The guy in this oven uses basically the exact process that I learned. Skip to about the 3:40 mark to watch him go through the seasoning process:


  13. #28

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    I own a Field 10 inch pan and several Finex pieces. Both Modern brands. love them both.

  14. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Getslow View Post
    I've used one of the high-end, enamel-coated ones before but while they're super easy to clean and maintain, it's really not necessary unless you're going for style as well as function.
    The benefit of the enamel pans is that they don't require seasoning. Seasoning can be burnt off if you get to pan too hot (we're talking about REALLY hot...like leaving them on the stove-top and forgetting to turn of the burner, which most everyone accidentally does every once in a blue moon), and seasoning is also susceptible to foods that are high in acidity. In general, it's best not to use a regular cast iron pan to cook any recipes with any major amounts of vinegar, tomatoes, or citrus in them. Tomato sauces, for example, are pretty much a big no-no for cooking in a regular cast iron pan. And if you have to use it to cook a recipe with high acid content, you definitely want to clean out the pan as soon as you've finished cooking.

    However, if you have an enamel-coated cast iron pan, you can cook anything and everything in it. The enamel coating used on lower-cost cast iron pans tends to chip a little more easily, but I have a Lodge cast iron dutch oven that I use every time I make chili or stew, and it's worked absolutely great. There's a French manufacturer called Le Creuset that was the first company to try putting enamel coatings on cast iron, and they actually put a lifetime warranty on their enamel coating...but those suckers cost a pretty penny. A Le Creuset enameled 7-1/4 quart dutch oven will cost you $379.95 on Amazon, whereas I think I paid like $75 for my Lodge enameled 7-1/2 quart dutch oven 4 or 5 years ago.

  15. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sheldon View Post
    I own a Field 10 inch pan and several Finex pieces. Both Modern brands. Love them both.
    Hey! Welcome to BGP, @Sheldon!

    Field Company and Finex are supposed to be two of the best cast iron manufacturers on the market, these days, along with a couple of other newcomers like Stargazer, SolidKinetics, Smithey, and Marquette Castings. Those manufacturers all spend the time and money to use high quality metal ores to make their skillets lightweight, and to have them machined smooth so they're absolutely top quality right out of the box.

    I've gone more the vintage route...I hunt for the old-school stuff and then recondition it, but those sound absolutely awesome to have in the kitchen!

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