My Mimi always had a green bean can of bacon grease and always heated up her cast iron before putting in that grease. It seems second-nature for me, and yet, counter-intuative, too. It has been a key in my kitchen, unlocking the simplicity in cooking and in cleaning! Phew!
In Seattle, Washington, during the mid of summer in 2010, Cody and I took a cooking class at Delancey, taught by Olaiya Land. We learned how to make tender sweet tart dough, and also two tarts; one savory, one sweet. It was delicious. Immediately upon receiving the class (as a gift from my mother-in-love), I imagined a flour-faced Cody next to me. In reality, he was very good and we co-conspired deliciously in class (as well as in our home kitchen). We learned a few lessons, my favorite of which was the no stick trick.
You know about the dangers of teflon, right? I know, I know, a lot of people want a pan that doesn’t stick. Most stainless steel and cast iron pans, when used incorrectly, practially beg their food to stick. However, once you know the no-stick trick, you are free from the aching forearm forcing the spatula across the bottom of the pan only to whip potatoes across the kitchen and in the unreachable nook, free from the long soaking and endless sponge scrubbing, free at last! Welcome the no stick trick!
Preheat your pan, slowly. Once it is nice and hot the pores of the pan have closed which prevents food from sticking! Then add your grease (this can be butter, olive oil, lard, or bacon grease). So, you get it, right? Pans like it hot! Before anything touches the pan, heat it up. It’s counter-intuitive when you think about our body and how hot water/steam opens our pores and cold water closes them, but, it’s not too shocking, is it? After all, there are a lot of other differences between our bodies and cast iron/stainless steel cookwares.
The key to the no-stick-trick from a non-non-stick pan is in the upkeep. You must–on a regular basis–maintain and season your pan. Your pan loves being seasoned. Your pan loves being used. And again, your pan loves being seasoned. To season your pan, after you wash (cast iron needs no soap, not neva), no need to dry, place it atop the stove and over a warm flame heat it up to dry. Once dry, add a little of your greasing agent and rub around with a designated seasoning rag. Voila!