Lodge fryer pan - things I should know?
I have a new Lodge fryer pan (3 qt pre-seasoned cast iron). I haven't been terribly impressed with it so far, but I have a feeling I'm not using it for the right purposes.
What is it good for and what shouldn't I use it for? ie. will the acidity in tomatoes strip the seasoning? why is the fish I'm cooking sticking?
Any advice on usage would be great. Many thanks.
Per Cook's Illustrated:
Taking Care of Cast Iron
If you buy a preseasoned pan (and you should), you can use the pan with little fuss.
* Don't wash the pan with soap or leave it in the sink to soak. Rinse it out under hot running water, scrubbing with a brush to remove traces of food. (This is easiest if done while the pan is still warm.)
* (Dry the pan thoroughly and put it back on the burner on low heat until all traces of moisture disappear (this keeps rusting at bay). Put a few drops of vegetable oil in the warm, dry pan and wipe the interior with a wad of paper towels until it is lightly covered with oil. Then, using fresh paper towels, rub more firmly to burnish the surface and remove all excess oil. The pan shouldn't look or feel oily to the touch. Turn off the heat and allow the pan to cool before putting it away.
If you have stuck-on food or you've inherited a pan that is rusty or gummy, scrub it with kosher salt.
* Pour in vegetable oil to a depth of 1/4 inch, then place the pan on a stove set to medium-low for 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat and add 1/4 cup kosher salt. Using potholder to grip hot handle, use thick cushion of paper towels to scrub pan. Warm oil will loosen food or rust, and kosher salt will have abrading effect. Rinse pan under hot running water, dry well, and repeat, if necessary.
If cooking acidic foods or improper cleaning has removed the seasoning from your pan, it will look dull, patchy, and dry instead of a smooth, rich black. You need to restore the seasoning. We have found this stovetop method (rather than the usual oven method) to be the most effective way to season a cast-iron pan.
* Heat pan over medium-high heat until drop of water evaporates on contact. Wipe inside with wad of paper towels dipped in vegetable oil (hold towels with tongs to protect yourself). Wipe out excess oil and repeat as needed until pan is slick.
First, don't cook tomatoes in it unless it has years of seasoning. The iron will leach, discolor sauce and affect the flavor. Second, NEVER put a hot pan in the sink or put cold water on it. It can crack. Third, don't be afraid of a light wash with a soapy sponge. How else are you going to get the flavor of last's night's fish fry out of it before breakfast? Finally, fry everything in it. Add oil and let it get hot. That is the secret of preventing your food from sticking (try also letting your food sit out for about twenty minutes before cooking it so that it can get closer to room temp.) Also be sure it is DRY. Wet fish is a mess.
I was skeptical, but I bought my first pan a few years ago when I moved to the South. Everyone had one, so I had to try it. I now use mine religiously for bacon, eggs, burgers, chicken, cutlets, etc. How did I ever live without it?