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Do you ever cook in cast iron on your (outdoor) grill?

I've seen a few grilling recipes that call for cooking some of the ingredients -- sauteed mushrooms, for example -- in a cast iron saute pan on top of the grill while the rest of the food grills directly over the heat . If you've ever done this, can you give me an idea of the kinds of "dual-cooking" you've done this way? I was intrigued enough by the mushroom idea to consider buying a large cast iron skillet, but I'd need more justification to warrant this purchase. Also, I'm wondering if this will work as well over charcoal as it does over gas. Your thoughts?

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  1. I used an iron skillet as a cooking/roasting pan on the 30" Weber I had in Nashville very often. I found it perfect for slow-roasting/smoking whole chickens, and once I did two ducks (and got a big grease ring on the concrete porch floor to prove it!). I've not used it too much on the gas grill I have now, except when I want to flat-grill meat. I do that with a pan on the grill because our cooktop's vent fan is permanently kaput, and one burger on there will set off the smoke alarm.

    I'm about to get another Weber now, and I will certainly be using my skillets on it. For the record, I've always had at least one iron skillet, and now have five, plus a grill pan, three Dutch ovens and two chicken fryers. Can't imagine doing without them. They've mostly been flea market and yard sale finds; the most expensive was the Lodge grill pan, bought new for $27.

    1. A cast iron pan on an outdoor girll, either gass or charcoal is a great way to cook outdoors. The cost of cast iron is low and there are many indoor uses as well. I've used my cast iron quite a bit on the grill. The most unusual thing I think I have don'e on it was a pineapple upside down cake in a cast iron skillet. Came out great, hope I can find the recipe again.

      1. The only caution is that a grill can burn the seasoning off, if you let it preheat too long. Voice of experience here.

        3 Replies
        1. re: sparrowgrass

          If I start with a piece of "pre-seasoned" Lodge Logic, do I still need to be concerned about burning the seasoning off?

          1. re: CindyJ

            Any high heat source will burn off the seasoning. When I wasn't happy with my skillet at old house, I just put it in the oven and put through the cleaning cycle and started over.

            On a gas grill if left empty on a medium heat for an extended period, it will also burn off all the seasoning. A little canola oil or hog lard will fix it right up if this happens.

          2. re: sparrowgrass

            As long as the skillet isn't warped or cracked, it can be seasoned and re-seasoned forever. The process is neither difficult nor terribly time-consuming. I've bought a lot of rusty pots and pans off the ground at flea markets and had them up and cooking in a few hours.

            I'm not massively impressed by most of the "pre-seasoned" pieces I've looked at, though it's been a while since I've examined any (since I rarely buy new ironware). But I think you'd have to overheat the pan past the point of burning the food to burn off the seasoning. When I'm roasting on the grill, it's by indirect heat. Baking an upside-down cake (a lovely idea, by the way!) would be done the same way. As for cooking meat or vegetables with direct heat, I shouldn't expect the heat to be appreciably greater than that of a cooktop.

          3. This brings to mind a lovely, simple meal I prepared for a dear friend over 25 years ago. I didn't want to leave him sitting in the back yard alone while I fiddled in the kitchen with the corn, so I just sliced off the kernels, and "fried" them up in the cast iron pan on the grill. Worked like a charm--just be sure you have a grill mitt close by!

            1. Hi, CindyJ:

              Sure, it's tried and true. I have a fine-mesh CI grate that I use all the time for veggies and shrimp, and a CI roasting pan that goes in the BBQ. Mine is a big "Texas Pit" offset smoker, so I can do direct heat *in* the firebox, smokeless indirect heat on top of it, and smokey indirect heat in the other chamber.

              One of my Summer favorites is steaks over the coals, fresh-cut smokey roasted creamed corn, and crab gratins, all done outside in CI. The shortcakes warm on top.

              Aloha,
              Kaleo

              3 Replies
              1. re: kaleokahu

                So clarify for me if you would, Kaleo, do you usually cook in the CI over direct heat or indirect heat?

                1. re: CindyJ

                  Hi, Cindy:

                  "Usually" in CI is not exactly how I cook. But since I have both direct and indirect heat available to me in abundance in/on the Pit, I use it there when I need a pan. The Pit usually has very high heat in the firebox and a lot of smoke in the other chamber, so pans tend to get blasted with heat and/or get very grimy/sooty from the smoke. With the fine-mesh grate, I have nothing comparable in another material. Aluminum and copper pans are PITAs to clean after being in that environment, so I use the CI I have on hand.

                  Other than in the Pit, my only uses of CI these days are high searing (bare) and no-knead bread (ECI, until Alarash finds me a 4mm copper cocotte). But technically, since making the switch to the wood cookstove, I guess all my non-BBQ CI cooking is indirect.

                  Is that what you were driving at?

                  Aloha,
                  Kaleo

                  1. re: kaleokahu

                    Well, sort of -- but your grilling options are different from mine, and I'm sure I don't have the intense heat in my grill that you've got in your Pit.

              2. I think I'm convinced. Now I need to decide which piece of cast iron cookware to buy (I'm only going to buy one piece for now). Should I get a 12" saute pan? A rectangular grill pan? A 17" skillet (looks really nice but is it just TOO big?)?

                FWIW, the summer before last, I packed the gas grill up in favor of a Weber Performer kettle-type grill with a propane starter, and haven't looked back. I want to be sure the CI piece I buy is sized appropriately for my grill.

                1 Reply
                1. re: CindyJ

                  I've got a 12" skillet that I never use because it's too big, though it would fit on the gas grill. My round Lodge grill pan is 10", but the everyday all-purpose skillets are labelled #8 though they're closer to 9" - exactly one handspan for me. The biggest problem in using a larger one, even for the 30" grill I used to have, is that it would encroach on the space over the coals instead of covering only the middle, and for indirect heat you don't want that. It would also impede air circulation. The #8s are exactly the right size for a big chicken or smallish turkey for roasting; if I need more volume I can use a chicken fryer, which is about as deep as a Dutch oven but has a handle instead of a wire bail.

                  Which reminds me of another thing you need to consider: with the pan situated in the middle of the grill, will the domed lid fit over it AND its handle?

                2. I use my cast iron frying pan on the grill when I make fajitas. I cook the meat directly on the grill and the peppers and onions in the pan. I have done this on both gas and charcoal grills.

                  1. For blackened fish which explodes with fishy steam I don't want in the house. But I sure do want my blackened fish.

                    1. Yes, but it is the cast iron pizza pan we bought expressly for this purpose. We make meatza instead of pizza, and doing it outside gives it a great smokey flavor.

                      1. We always take the 10" cast iron skillet camping and use it on the fire. Using one on a grill seems somewhat refined, and definitely non-envelope pushing.

                        1. You're not limited to using cast iron on the grill. At my last place, I had a teeny tiny 15" wide wall oven, so I would roast my Thanksgiving turkey in a Calphalon roasting pan inside my Weber Genesis gas grill. With the cover down, it made a lovely oven. The only down side was not having that wonderful turkey aroma in the house.