For those of you who use cast iron on a regular basis, this will sound like old hat, but for people like me, who never grew up cooking in cast iron and had to figure it out as an adult, it was very unnerving to start cooking with a hunk of metal on the stove while navigating a slew of online information (some of which sounded contradictory)!
As someone who now owns a cookware company, who designed cast iron skillets from scratch, and picks them up raw from the big foundry up the road, and seasons them over huge fires in the backyard…I can provide a few basics for the relatively new and/or uninitiated into cast iron cooking:
- Turn the heat on to medium (or medium high if your pan is already well-seasoned) and leave it on and the cast iron empty for a good 2-5 minutes. What you’re doing is polymerizing the last coat of seasoning that was applied and getting rid of any hot spots, allowing the iron to fully heat up all over itself.
- At this point, if you add any fats, add them slowly as they’ll sizzle and pop. Beware flying hot oil!
- Then, add your food and sear, saute, braze, blacken, or even bake to your heart’s content!
It really is that simple!
Another note to the newbies:
Your cast iron skillet, even if it’s newish, will come with some sort of pre-seasoning or coating. Usually this is ready to go on the stove. If your cast iron was mass produced, the pre-seasoning will usually be nominal and you’ll discover you’ll have to do many rounds of cooking to get the piece to be slicker and non-stick.