As the richsoil article says, "a little smoke is a good thing" but I feel like I have too much whenever I cook with my cast-iron skillet. My skillet definitely has a bit a greasy residue feel to it, which again is supposed to be good, but I believe that when I cook at high temperature that residue starts to smoke quite a bit, especially if I'm not cooking on that part of the skillet. For instance, if I'm cooking a small steak then the residue around the edges of the skillet seems to smoke quite a bit. It make the cooking environment unpleasant but with a window open it's manageable. The residue/season on the part of the skillet I'm cooking on also seems to blacken very easily and transfer to the food, which leaves an unpleasant taste and again a lot of smoke. I try to cook with relatively high smoke point oils like canola.
I'm relatively new to cooking on cast-iron, so any advice is appreciated!
I rub my pan with a bit of slightly oily old towel after I've warmed/dried it, so there's a film to prevent rust, but no more. I use grapeseed when a flavourless oil's required. When I cook meat, I've never needed to add fat: the meat lubricates itself as it cooks. I used to be a chef, and a symptom of that is cooking most things at exceptionally high temperatures, so I'm with you on the smoky house! I find that cooking meat hot and fast in the middle of the pan, then resting on a warm plate works fine. I try to use the meaty-pan goodness to fry up some potatoes, mushrooms or whatever.
Cast iron cooking the bane of many a chef. The trick to cooking with cast iron is have the pan heated before you start. The cast iron pans were usually on a wood stove at the back at all times and when you wanted to cook you brought it forward to a hot spot. The heat test is done with a drop of water when the water dances it is hot enough.
Something most people are not aware of is its the heat that prevents sticking not the gobs of grease thats used. The searing prevents sticking the oil is only used to spread the heat evenly.
Eggs are simple as well just lightly salt the pan add a bit of butter and drop in the eggs the salt props up the egg until it starts to cook and seal by that time the salt desolves and you have full contact.
Scrambled eggs no problem just add the eggs and immediatly start gathering the egg mixture to the center of the panstart at the outside edge and pull the cooked egg to the center and uncooked will run in and fill the void left do this all around the pan and in about 2 mins your eggs are done.
People prefer the polished pans to the pebbled ones thinking the polished will work better the pebble is there to act as the salt would and the pebbles will go away after many steel wool washings.
The magical seasoning of the pan is more of a folk tale than a practical solution and oil added and baked on at different secret temperatures is only a temporary glazing Cast iron is rough but not porious. So any seasoning is a waste of time and only temporary although some swear by it.
Cleaning the pan... gasp try soap and water with steel wool or an sos pad works just fine. Save it for the last clean it dry it and place it back on the stove. Soak it and you go a rust bucket.
When cooking meat do the heat test add oil and throw in a steak don't put oil in a cold pan and wait for it to smoke and then add the meat if the oil starts smoking your breaking it down and it will act as a glue rather than a heat evening agent.
Butter or oil whats best? Butter is a norther european idea and olive oil is a southern idea. (No olive trees in England) Butter adds more flavor olive oil cooks at higher temps. I personally use a few drops of olive oil and a pat of butter together. Or you can clairify the butter by melting it and skimming the solids off thats what burns in the butter the milk solids.
If your using an electric range NEVER use high the only thing you use high temp for is boiling water. You fry on the fry setting or 3/4 of max heat. Never fry steaks out of the freazer or refridgerator allow them to come to room temperature first. The pan is hot stays hot and cooks fast if you use cold meats the outside will be done but the inside will be cold. In a pinch just nuke the meat for a minute or so to warm it up.
And a last word about the heat test that drop of water should not flash to steam or sizzle the puppy sould dance around the pan like a witch on PCB's.
Don't give up. Cast iron is great to cook on, but you have to get used to it. If you don't have someone around who is familiar with cast iron, you will just have to mess around, and that includes some messes.
I am not one to use soap and steel wool on my cast iron. I guess some folks do, but I find that if I soap and scour, the pan rusts, and the food sticks more. If I buy a "new" pan at a yard sale or good will and I'm not sure what's been in it, I put it in the fire and burn it til the metal is clean, then I do rub it with oil and heat it a few times, but I don't have any secret temperatures or oils.
I do cook tomato sauce in cast iron to warm it up, and prepare a meal, but for hours of cooking, like reducing the juice to sauce for canning, I stay away from the cast iron.
as I said, don't give up!
Best luck: satisfaction
Greatest curse, greed
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