cleaning up Cast Iron skillet after pork chops - a real mess
I have a 6 month old Wagnerware - really smooth bottom, and have only been cooking with lard. Got good seasoning layers built up from lots of bacon, eggs, toast, pancakes. Avoided anything acidic so far.
Been cooking pork chops on it, with lots of lard, and after cooking, the mess it leaves is very hard to clean up. I've been using cheap salt to help scrub the hard stuff up, but it seems to wear down the seasoning in the center quite a bit, and then takes weeks to get dark again if I go back to just eggs/bacon, etc. Each time I cook pork, it really tears up my pan
Is there a better way? (cooking it, and cleaning it)
My method to clean any pan with your dilemma.....first is to drain the grease and wipe out with paper towels. Second, I simply soak it for a while, and any food build up is released easily most times. For really tough stuck on mess, I return it to the burner on a low flame with about a quarter inch of water. When the water heats up, I scrape the pan with a wooden spoon.....similar to deglazing when making sauces or gravies. Works every time.
I just turn my burner on all the way and crisp all the gunk out. When it gets dry I use a compound knife to scrape the pan. Of course I have a very powerful vented range hood to clear out the smoke, so I don't suggest doing this if you can't get the smoke outside. I have also stuck it inside my oven and set it on broil for twenty minutes as well.
As for cleaning it, you can use the salt method as you have. You can also use a plastic scraper to scrap the carbonized crust (assuming that is the kind of mess you are talking about).
This is a cast iron cookware. We shouldn't have to baby it. If we are, then we are missing the point -- I think.
The salt should be a coarse salt such as Kosher salt. Saturate the salt with some oil in the warm pan. Rub the entire inside of the pan with this mixture and a paper towel, not just where you have the residue. This will help maintain an even seasoning throughout the pan.
Hot water into the pan can help to deglaze it prior to cleaning.
I use a griddle scraper to remove lots of gunk from my cast iron during and after cooking. A good example is if I want to cook breakfast sausage and then fry some eggs. Without the scraper the eggs will stick to the residue left from the sausage. But like Chem said I'm not in the baby the cast iron camp. I normally use some sort of cast iron everyday. It does what I want, when I want and I never lose sleep over it.
Let me tell you why this is most likely happening - the pan is not hot enough when you start your sear. And here's the deal - with cast iron and if cooking reasonably thick chops you are almost always going to have to sear and then finish in the oven - cast iron is not supple enough to put a quality sear on a thick chop and then respond to lowering the flame to finish the chops on the stove top. IGet the pan hot, use a small amount of oil and put a sear on them. Finish them in a 350* oven for twenty minutes or so depending....
Relatively low heat, pork chops, and cast iron always equals those little mealy stains I know you're getting. Very maddening. The only answer is high heat and a hard sear IMO.
You won't get these clean without losing some of the seasoning. The goal is not to get these stains at all.