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Feb 28, 2005 01:16 PM

Lemon chicken in a cast-iron skillet- bad idea?

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I have recently accquired some used cast iron cookware and have been going NUTS- I love it! Which is why I need your help before I go overboard...

I've marinated some chicken pieces in garlic, oregano, rosemary, olive oil and a substantial amount of lemon juice. I was thinking about cooking it in one of the cast iron skillets, but as I understand, cooking acidic things in cast iron can produce some off-flavors. Although the skillet appear well-seasoned (I can successfully cook an over-easy egg in the pan w/ only a smidge of oil), is it a bad idea to cook something so acidic in the pan?

I'll get the Le Creuset when I can afford it- for now, I'm happy with my cast-iron fortune. Thanks in advance for helping a newbie out!

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  1. well from what i've heard, acidic contents will allow some of the iron to leach into the food (which is not a bad thing every once in awhile). this said, it's not like you're going to make tomato sauce in it. i use my cast iron skillet for pratically everything. including frying up chicken/rabbit pieces that have been marinated in wine and/or lemon juice. so i say go for it.

    1. I'm iron-poor, and my doctor always tells me to go right ahead and cook everything in the cast-iron pan for the additional iron content that'll be released. You might want to consider cleaning with salt and oil afterward, so that the finish isn't affected.

      1. In school we would clean the copper pans with a mix of lemon juice, baking powder and flour. Boy, were those pans clean!

        1. I'm vegetarian and I cooked some vegetarian scallops (soy and wheat) in lemon juice and butter in an iron skillet. Normally they come out great. But this time I left them in the skillet too long. The flavor was atrocious - tasting metallic. I ate them thinking they were off, but they were way off and should not have been eaten. The juice became black, I noticed, when I cleaned the skillet . And the worse thing is that my teeth (which I had whitened a few months before) became absolutely dark gray. I threw on a tray of whitening, and it helped but didn't quite get them clean. This is a lesson I will never forget.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Marilyn B

            How did you get your teeth white again?! My teeth are so gray and it's disgusting!

            1. re: peacelovecheese

              You could try holding baking soda & hydrogen peroxide in your mouth, and/or brushing with it:

          2. I use my cast iron skillets constantly and have not had a problem with off-flavors when cooking with acidic ingredients such as you describe. I frequently cook chicken with lemon juice, vinegar, etc. However, I don't make slow cooked tomato sauces in those pans because there the metallic flavor is noticable to me.

            Also, as Marilyn B suggests, don't leave the finished food in the pan once cooking is done. It will likely take on an iron flavor and/or grayish color. Enjoy your cast iron.

            1 Reply
            1. re: tcamp

              I have used an iron skillet at least 5 days a week for 30 years. This was the first time it made the flavor bad (my husband agrees! and he is not that particular). It was also the first time my teeth turned gray. However, neither of us became sick from eating the food. But you can learn new lessons even in your 60's.