Friday, January 18, 2008

Since You Asked

Blogging Buddy... well, we've never met, so I'll say Highly Regarded Fellow Blogger Leopold Stotch writes with a culinary-type question. Following is his query and my response in italics:

A question that you might post on if you think it's relevant:

What the hell, I need some material, and this comes in handy.

I retired my George Foreman in favor of a pre-seasoned cast iron grill pan (which I seasoned several additional times just to be sure), and I'm loving it. The Foreman dries out the meat and usually burns one or both sides, but the cast iron with a grill press has completely changed the flavor and texture of everything I've cooked.

Good man. Cast iron is untouchable for meat cookery dry cooking methods. Its density gives it great heat retention, that and its heat conductivity means even heat with relatively little "spot heat", where some parts of the surface are significantly higher than others.

When I've been to places with open kitchens, they rub down their grills with a towel and I'd like to clean mine with one instead of paper towels or a brush (the former tears up while the latter scrapes off the seasoning).

Actually, when they rub down a big commercial grill like that, they're not cleaning it, theyre re-seasoning it. They've already cleaned it with a brush. I'll make some cleaning and care recommendations in a minute, but since you asked:

What kind of towel is appropriate for this? Does it matter? At the places I've been it's looked like a chamois, but maybe it's just a normal cotton towel worn with usage.

Bingo. It's a cheap terry side towel that's been rolled up in a... well, roll, and soaked in vegetable oil. Reoeated use wears off the piling.

Here's how I would recommend caring for your new grill pan: After you're done using it, while it's very hot, run it under HOT water. You're essentially deglazing the pan, but not to make a sauce -- you're just lifting off the residue. Use a long-handled brush or handled scrubbing pad to clean it off, then immediately wipe it drywith a clean, dry dish towel. If it looks like you've lost any of the cure, heat it back up, rub it with a bit of oil and re-cure. A thorough and indepth cure shouldn't be necessary -- get it hot, rub in the oil, and wipe off the excess. For curing, a paper towel should be ok for this, but if you insist, see my earlier comments about the type of towel they use. From your comments on curing, I'm going to assume you're aware of the evils of strong chemical detergents on cast iron.