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Nov 11, 2005 04:02 PM

Cleaning cast-iron fry pan...lingering smell of grease after steak cooking?

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Sorry..yet another maintenance question. I know I am not supposed to use water, so after I cooked some great skirt steak in my cast-iron pan (in melted beef fat, as the butcher suggested), I let the pan cool, then attempted to clean with kosher salt. Put about half-cup of salt into pan, rubbed with paper towel and was left with brown salt in a smelly pan. Wiped salt out as best I could, wiped again with cloth rag, left pan on cool stove overnight. Today pan smells like grease and when I rubbed clean paper towel inside, the towel got grease all over it. Question: If I clean the pan the right way, will the grease smell linger or did I do something wrong? I am about to put water in it to get rid of the smell.

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  1. Get as much stuff as you can out.

    Then heat the pan with a little canola oil, until it shimmers. Kill the heat, add the salt, scrub vigorously, empty, wipe clean. Let cool completely.

    1. I wash my cast iron with ...horrors!!!!!!! detergent and hot water. It is well seasoned and well used. Washing has never hurt it at all.

      1. Who says you shouldn't wash your cast iron cookware? Use hot water and dishwashing soap and scrub the heck out of it. After rinsing, dry the pan by putting it on a burner turned down very low. I do it this way, my mother does it this way, my Grandma did it this way....You get the picture.

        1 Reply
        1. re: ratbin

          Yeah, I use detergent too. But very little. I clean it as soon as I'm finished using it. I first add water, while it's still hot, and vigorously scrub it with a brush. Then add a little water and a drop or two of detergent and put it on the stove. I watch it carefully and as soon as it starts to simmer I do the brush thing again and rinse it out and dry it. It goes back on the stove for a minute and turn off the heat and let it sit for awhile. Mine has a fine, easy to fry an egg on, patina. In fact all five of mine have a fine patina and they all get the same care.

          Some times I rub a little oil on 'em. Good Luck and enjoy.

        2. Baking soda and hot water - soak an hour (not overnight or you risk endangering the patina)
          then wash with a gentle scrub brush and a mild non-toxic soap. If you burned something - you did the right thing just using salt as an abrasive.
          But do use baking soda as a natural deodorizer.
          Dry thoroughly, put on low flame with a bit of oil rubbed in to restore surface completely.

          1. Add my vote for hot water (though the pan is always still hot enough an hour later to warm the water). I don't use soap, and rarely need more than two paper towels. If it does, so what?

            To me, the hour long baking soda regime is too precious. I can't imagine the upside since I've only once re-seasoned a pan and that was because it didn't get basic (easy) maintenance.