Week after Thanksgiving, time to clean and use up the leftovers. We’ll start with the cleaning, today How I Clean My Cast Iron!!!
Step One (arguably the most fun of all the steps):
Dirty the Cast Iron. There are many ways to do this, I made Roasted Mushroom Gravy!
Now there’s a lot of you out there that would think this would be a good time for soap, water, a green scrubby and some elbow grease. I Say Thee Nay!!! Nothing ruins a good, seasoned cast iron pan faster than soap and water. How do you clean it, much less sanitize it? Salt! Salt is amazing, it’s abrasive so it’s good for getting out baked-on food, but more importantly, salt sanitizes your pan using osmosis, which is ten times cooler and more effective than any soap. This brings us to:
Salting the Cast Iron. Dump enough kosher salt into your pan to generously cover the bottom, like so.
Put the pan on a low flame, as low as you can possibly make it. Then just scrub the pan. I like to use two folded up paper towels to protect my hands from the heat, other wise just scrub the pan using the salt until the bottom is nice and shiny. You’ll be amazed how much unseen build up the salt will pull off your pan, causing it to turn color as it pulls up the grime.
For those of us concerned about waste, you can keep this salt in a container and use it multiple times. In fact, this is where the term Seasoning Salt first came from! Any-hoo, after you have all the baked in, built up grime scoured up off the bottom of the pan, it should look something like this.
Now it’s time to put a fresh coat of seasoning on the pan. Or as I like to call it:
Oiling the Cast Iron. Put the pan back on the flame and let it sit there until you can see the first faint wisps of smoke curling up off the surface. Then add in a small amount of canola oil, about the size of a fifty-cent piece. If you don’t know the size of a fifty-cent piece, look it up, it’s about time you learned about something that happened before 1996.
Take the oil and swirl it all around the bottom of the pan, making sure to tip the pan slightly to get it up on the lip as well. Be Very Careful!! Oil is hot. This is not something to do while the kids are busy lacing your shoes together. Then put the pan back on the flame and heat the oil to a light smoking. Then swirl it again. Repeat once more for good measure. Then take two paper towels folded up into fourths and wipe out all the excess oil. The hotter the pan is when you do this, the more successful you’ll be. So buck up and touch the hot pan! If you’ve done things correctly, your pan should look like this.
One important note, 80% of the time, this isn’t necessary. You just need to wipe the pan out really well as soon as you’re done with it and then give it a very light oiling and wipe it out. This technique is for when you burn the crap out of something, or you just don’t have time to get to the pan right away. Otherwise, good luck!