If there is one thing I love to do, it is smoking and grilling food out on the Big Green Egg. I have done long, over the night, low and slow cooks and short, high temperature cooks in which once complete I’ve followed it with a side dish like baked beans in a cast iron skillet. There have been times where I have, unfortunately, ran out of fuel to finish the cook.
While you may not be familiar with smokers, they don’t fire right back up to the required temperature like regular grills, so I have had to move things to the oven. More than once I’ve had to move my sides, which are usually always in a cast iron skillet, to the oven. This is perfectly safe to do. Not only can it go in the oven, but you can also use it on the stove or direct flame like a grill.
Cast iron skillets are super versatile. One of the other amazing things with cast iron skillets is that once it is hot, it will cook your food evenly. The cast iron distributes the heat the best of any pan I’ve ever cooked with. Not only does it cook foods evenly, but it is non-stick as long as it is maintained properly.
How to Maintain a Cast Iron Skillet?
The only down side to cooking with a cast iron skillet is that they do require more work to maintain. New cast iron skillets come nice, shiny and ready to use. This is a protective coating which prevents the cast iron from rusting. After every cook you’ll want to re-season the cast iron skillet to prevent it from rusting (and sometimes before if its been a while prior to the previous use).
It isn’t hard to do, but it is just more time consuming. After every cook, you will want to simply wash it clean, by hand, with a super good rinse. Once done, ensure that it dried all the way with a towel. After this is complete, it is time to season the cast iron skillet.
To season the cast iron skillet simply get some vegetable, canola or olive oil, and pour a silver dollars worth in the middle of the pan. Grab a paper towel, and spread it all over every surface of the pan. This will put a nice thin coat over the entire cast iron skillet protecting it until the next use.
What Happens If the Cast Iron Skillet Gets Rusty? (And How to Bring It Back to Life)
Trust me, it happens to the best of us! It will either sit too long, and the protective surface fades, in which the cast iron will start to rust, or you’ll let it sit in the sink too long and absorb too much water, allowing it to rust. The nice thing about cast iron is that with a little more work, it can, in fact be brought back to life.
To bring your cast iron skillet back to life, just give it a really good wash. At this point it is already rusty, I’d even throw it in the dishwasher to save some scrubbing. Once cleaned up, it is time to get to work. Simply take some steel wool, and scrub it until all the rust is gone.
Once you have removed all the rust, ensure the pan is dry. Season it the same way you would after a regular cook. Put a silver dollar size of canola, vegetable oil or olive oil in the middle of the pan, and spread it all over coating the skillet with a paper towel.
Once complete, I like to also bake it on and repeat the process one more time. To do this, either fire up the oven, grill or Big Green Egg to 500 degrees. Add the freshly cleaned and re-seasoned skillet to the heat, and let it sit there for a good 10 minutes or so. Once the time is up, let it cool. Now that it is cool, proceed with putting one more layer of seasoning on it, in which it should be good as new for your next cook.
Good luck with your future cast iron skillet cooks! It truly is an amazing versatile accessory to have on hand to use. Just be ready for the little extra work it takes to maintain it, and you will be pumping out amazing dishes in no time.