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Searing on gas grill with cast iron skillet?

So I'm pretty tired of the smoke that is produced when I sear steaks and pork chops on my cast iron skillet in the apartment. I was wondering if I can sear my steaks in my cast iron skillet but on my grill outside? That would be great as I wouldn't smoke out the house.

If this is a possibility what setting do you use on your gas grill to pre heat the skillet?

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  1. It's absolutely possible -- watch it carefully, as it can get hot enough to carbonize things within seconds.

    4 Replies
    1. re: sunshine842

      Take the grate off and put the skillet directly on the burner/ rocks/whatever. Much more efficient heat-wise. And pay attention.

      1. re: rjbh20

        I'm curious what that is so. If the 'interior' of my grill is, say, 500 degrees then why would I need to place the skillet down on the 'rocks' or whatever.

        1. re: c oliver

          Agreed -- I've somehow managed to get my skillet blazing hot while sitting right there on the rack. Much less opportunity to sear myself if I don't have to screw around with hot pans and hot racks.

          1. re: c oliver

            Because if it sits on hot rocks, the heat transfer is much more efficient than just convection (hot air). Try this -- get your oven up to 400, open the door and put your hand in without touching anything. No too bad, right?

            Now grab the oven rack with your bare hand -- after all, its the same temperature, right? (Note to the literal-minded -- do not try this at home)

      2. Absolutely. I have a large cast iron griddle that I use on my gas grill for all sorts of things, including smash burgers (the best crust!), steaks and bacon. I love that it leaves the mess outside.

        I put the griddle in the grill when I turn it on, so that it heats up slowly with the grill. I turn all my burners on high immediately, and haven't had any issues with warping or cracking. I give it a good 20 mins to half hour to heat up, minimum.

          1. When blackened redfish was the 'hot' item in the 80's, I would heat up the skillet on the stove and with a heavy glove run it outside to the hot grill for the blackening, which makes a near explosion that you don't want to happen in your kitchen, more than a sear.

            6 Replies
            1. re: Veggo

              LOL -- I remember a friend of ours who'd decided to wow us with blackened redfish -- smoke alarms going off, smoke pouring out of the apartment....and the lingering aroma of blackening spice for months -- even on his clothes.

                1. re: Veggo

                  far more than we enjoyed his "aura" for the next few months!

                2. re: sunshine842

                  Oh geez. You could be talking about hubby and me. LOL.

                3. re: Veggo

                  I made this last week -- still a great dish when done right. And not in an apartment.

                  1. re: rjbh20

                    Nice! I'm pleased it has not been forgotten!

                4. Sweet thanks for the replies everyone! So is it best to put the pan on the grill when it's hot or put on the grill before even turning on the gas and let it heat while the grill heats?

                  If anyone can direct me to a very good pork chop recipe done on a cast iron skillet I'd really appreciate it. Haven't found a really good one yet. Want to impress the wife tomorrow :)

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: Kleraudio

                    Pork chops Marsala -- just use your basic veal Marsala recipe and substitute a seared pork rib chop

                    1. re: Kleraudio

                      Let it heat while the grill heats. Cast iron likes to be heated gradually.

                        1. re: c oliver

                          Thermal shock can crack cast iron... most of us know about gradual cooling (hot pan in cold water = cracked pan), but heating is same principle, I believe.

                          1. re: AaronE

                            Yes, but almost always it is easier to cool a cast iron pan instantaneously than instantaneously heat up a cast iron pan. It is much easier to put a red hot cast iron pan in a tube of ice cold water than to put a ice cold cast iron pan in a pool of hot oil.

                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                              Good explanation, CK. After I use anything CI, I do a little mini-reseason by putting it on the burner and turning to high. Once the drops of water dry up, I add a little oil, wipe with a paper towel and then turn off the heat. Never had a problem with that.

                    2. Wondering why you would cook on the CI grate on the grill as opposed to directly on the grill?

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: smilingal

                        Not a ci grate but my ci skillet.

                      2. Preheat your skillet in the kitchen. Either stove top or oven.
                        Preheat your grill. Transfer your skillet outside when it is time to cook. I recommend channel lock or vise grip pliers as the skillet will burn anything else.

                        If this is a major part of your cooking, be on the look out for a commercial cast iron blackener. I found mine under a pile of junk in a used commercial store. One half inch thick and designed to fit over two burners. That sucker retained heat and we would use it over fires with rebar legs as it was too big for any home appliance.

                        8 Replies
                        1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                          The pliers are a good idea. I have half a jar of Paul Prudhomme's blackening seasoning, the CI skillet, and the grills, but I haven't seen redfish in the markets for eons. I should blacken red or black grouper soon now that our Florida weather is pleasant.

                          1. re: Veggo

                            but then, let's be honest -- a redfish big enough to blacken doesn't have the greatest flavor (hidden by the spices) -- and big reds are usually lousy with big worms.

                            I'll take a fat mangrove snapper or a grouper any day of the week.

                            (blackened isn't my favorite preparation - I like to taste the fish!)

                            1. re: sunshine842

                              Yeah, I think that was a fad that no one was particularly sorry to see die. Probably a prep for people who don't really like fish.

                            2. re: Veggo

                              I'd guess that you don't see them in the market because commercial harvest of Red Drum (Redfish) is prohibited in Florida. They are limited much more than they were in the past, both due to previous overfishing and to the fact that they grow kind of slowly. I think they reach maturity in only a few years, but can live more than 40 years. Many states, including where I fish in North Carolina, restrict recreational harvest to just one or two per day (one in NC),and to a slot limit of 18-27 inches, saving the big ones for breeding.
                              I was in NC about a month ago, and we caught 15 slot-length ones over the course of a week, not keeping all of them. The ones we kept - delicious!

                              1. re: Cheez62

                                Makes me feel guilty for how many we used to catch near the oil platforms in the Texas gulf, but that was before the overfishing I contributed to. We didn't know at the time. Any fish that tasty and that easy to catch is at risk. I am concerned for the destiny of grouper and hogfish, which I eat a lot of in Florida and Mexico.

                                1. re: Veggo

                                  Well hopefully the grouper and hogfish are being managed in a more responsible manner. It certainly has worked for the drum. They are being caught in numbers greater than I recall hearing about in the past, at least in NC. I think many anglers are enjoying catches that they never had, and if they want to keep one for dinner, they may do so.

                                  1. re: Cheez62

                                    Florida monitors the grouper catch. There was a moratorium on grouper long-line fishing before the BP oil spill, but it was because of green sea turtles drowning on the baited hooks, not out of concern for grouper. The moratorium was lifted after the spill because of fishermen's complaints about the woeful condition of the fishing industry. Grouper get little respect.
                                    Hogfish are reef dwellers and there is no commercial method to harvest them in commercial quantities, fortunately.
                                    In the Yucatan, the biggest threat to grouper and hogfish (mero and boquinette there) is the extraordinary growth in the number of hotel rooms and vacationers in the Mexican Riviera in the last 17 years. Both are getting harder to find, even in the old original Mexican fish restaurants, plus there are far fewer fishermen.

                            3. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                              I cook a Zuni chicken in a CI skillet at 475 and take it out of the oven with just a folded dish towel. It doesn't burn or even discolor the towel.

                            4. Awesome thanks everyone. I'll try my hand at seared chops tonight. I really hope they turn out!

                              1. I have done it on the grate on the Weber gas and on the BGE over lump charcoal. Both work great. I agree to throw it in the grill as it heats up.

                                Another alternative is a separate high BTU stand alone burner. Many very reasonable ones that may pay for themselves in time as the heat is concentrated under the pan.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: Tom34


                                  That's an interesting idea. Can they be kept outside? That's the whole reason of wanting to use the grill.

                                  Also do I need to throw these chops in the oven to finish? I don't see 3 minutes per side cooking these chops. They're about an inch thick.

                                  1. re: Kleraudio

                                    no, but you could carry them outside then store them inside when they cool down.

                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                      I'm gonna have to look into this.

                                      Oh I forgot it was daylight savings and it's really dark out. Will searing these chops indoors create a ton of smoke? I have the worst hood system in the world here lol.

                                    2. re: Kleraudio

                                      There are so many different manufactures of such stand alone burners I can't say for sure. They don't seem that expensive & I doubt many would last that long exposed to the direct elements (rain / snow) but properly covered I would think some would be OK.

                                      Bayou Classic offers many models including aluminum & SS. I don't think the heat settings adjust as finely as an indoor stove top, but they should be more controllable than throwing a pan on a grill. It does appear a minimum 10 inch fry pan is required but coming across that in cast iron should not be a problem.

                                  2. Will chops on the Ci indoors smoke out the apartment?

                                    It's too dark to do this on the grill. Totally forgot about daylight savings!

                                    1. Well I just cooked up the chops. Heated the pan on the grill. I threw some water in the pan and it immediately disappeared. So I threw in a little cooking oil and put the chops in. 3 minutes on each side then finished in a 400 degree oven for 6 or 7 minutes.

                                      The chops didn't brown at all? My wife's did a little. Then after 6 minutes in a 400 degree oven and 5 or 6 minutes of rest my chop was basically raw in the middle.

                                      What did I do wrong here?

                                      11 Replies
                                      1. re: Kleraudio

                                        How could they not have browned when you had them in the skillet with oil for 3 minutes a side? That I don't get. I've not done that cut so can't advise on the temp or time but if you don't have a meat thermometer, go get one :) $15 maybe. It's my best friend when cooking meat. Sorry about that :(

                                        1. re: c oliver

                                          I have a nice thermometer but am always hesitant to use it because when I poke the meat and take the probe out all of the juices come out of the meat!

                                          But yea it would have been good to use it on my first try at this technique. Why the meat didn't brown and caramelize is beyond me. 3 minutes in a very hot pan on each side. I guess I can let it heat longer but dont want to start a grease fire on my balcony. The water when splashed immediately vanished so I figured it was ready to rock.

                                          I'll get this cast iron on grill thing down in time. I wonder if ambient temp matters at all, it was pretty cold out tonight here in CO.

                                          1. re: Kleraudio

                                            get a small instant-read -- the hole is smaller.

                                            I also don't think your skillet was hot enough -- it only has to be above 212F to vaporize water....but that doesn't mean it's hot enough to sear a hunk of meat.

                                            If you didn't have a good crust in 3 minutes, the pan wasn't hot enough.

                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                              I second sunshine's comment, the pan wasn't hot enough.

                                              I use our cast iron skillet and griddle on our gas grill once in a while. The outside temps will make getting the pan hot enough a challenge. Were you able to shut the lid on the grill? If so, maybe you just need to heat it longer.

                                              If you can't shut the lid, it can be a challenge to get the pan hot enough if it is cold outside. I had a miserable experience with fried potatoes recently.

                                              1. re: cleobeach

                                                Ok makes sense about the 212 degrees :)

                                                Soooooo how the heck do I know if my pan is hot enough? If I leave it to heat up for 10 minutes I'm afraid of starting a big fire the moment the oil goes in the pan.....

                                                Looking forward to trying this again soon :)

                                                1. re: Kleraudio

                                                  I heat up my cast iron for at least 30 minutes, often longer. And if your cast iron has a decent seasoning on it, I wouldn't add any oil. The pork chop will release on it's own, once it has developed a nice crust.

                                                  1. re: TorontoJo

                                                    Ok then I'll let it heat up much longer next time!

                                                    I only let it heat up about 10 minutes. And yes I can close the grill when the skillet is on there so hopefully ambient temp won't affect it too much.

                                                    1. re: Kleraudio

                                                      And make sure you gas grill is turned all the way up. Mine can get up to 550+, which is what you want. And just a note: when I say 30 minutes, that's *after* the grill has warmed up, so you're looking at maybe 45 minutes or so.

                                                      1. re: TorontoJo

                                                        Wow I had no idea it takes that long to heat up. All the videos I watched said to preheat it on the stove top for 5-6 minutes and all their meat was searing beautifully. I figured a hot grill couldn't take much longer.

                                                        Yea my grill gets up to ~600 degrees as well..

                                                        Wow, I'll plan better next time! Seems like an awful waste of propane, then again, better than smoking out the house. Maybe it's best to preheat in the oven for a bit at 500 degrees, then when ready to cook fire up the grill and transfer the pan outside..

                                                        Jo, how many burners are on your grill?

                                                        1. re: Kleraudio

                                                          On the stove, the skillet is directly on the flames, in a grill, it's indirect heat, so it's more akin to heating up your skillet in a cold oven.

                                                          My grill has 3 burners, and I turn them all to high to heat up my CI. Go ahead and try for less than the 45 minutes -- maybe 30 minutes, including warm up time will work for you since you are using a smaller skillet (I have a HUGE CI griddle).

                                                          1. re: TorontoJo

                                                            OK will do. I'll buy some more chops for this weekend and give it a go. Makes sense on the indirect heat, never thought of that. 212 was easy to obtain though lol. What kind of surface temp am I hoping to achieve in this pan? I think my neighbor has one of those laser thermometers, I'll borrow that and see how long it takes to get to certain temps.

                                                            My stove is a glass top electric, no gas stoves out here, would that make a big difference in heat up time?

                                      2. Wow, your first attempt was less than stellar. Welcome to my world.

                                        Stick your skillet in a 500 degree F oven for 2 hours, and then try the blackening. And the original method was to dip the fish in melted butter and then dredge in the seasonings, You might want to try this with your pork chops instead of cooling the skillet off with the addition of oil.

                                        If you can handle the cost and storage, an 80K BTU or greater propane wok burner is perfect for this cooking technique.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                                          Exactly. Buttered fish filet, seasoning, into an empty dry hot CI skillet. Bam!

                                        2. Just grill them directly on the grate.