Annoying cast iron pan update (leftover curry)

By John, 13 January, 2024

This is part two of the saga of my aggravating cast iron pan. You can read part one here.

Last time, after cleaning the pan, I did put some oil on it. And wow, that was educational. I am used to a few drops of oil being good enough for a whole frying pan. I put a good half teaspoon on the annoying pan and it was barely enough to coat a third of the bottom. It's REALLY rough. So it takes a lot.

Another note on oiling the annoying pan: I am used to using paper towels to apply the oil. On this pan, when I use a paper towel, if I rub it with any sort of pressure, the bottom of the pan just grinds down the paper towel into shreds. So I have to be careful about that. I am certainly not putting on as thin of a coat of oil as I have done with my other pans, that's for sure. Sometimes more like, patting it on. But I don't want to lay it on too thick because I don't want it to get gummy, like parts of my Blackstone griddle got.

If you'll recall from the last post, I was on the fence between making an omelette and heating up leftover curry. Both of them seemed like they would be sticky on a super rough, brand new cast iron pan with almost no seasoning. I decided not to go with the omelette. I was super tempted, but decided against it because I did have a lot of curry and figured I should probably start eating my way through it.

So I had my pre-oiled pan. I put it on the burner and put it on low medium heat. I added some curry and some rice before the pan got very hot. Then I put a few tablespoons of water around the outside edge of the pan, and grabbed the lid from my regular lodge dutch oven (which fits perfectly) over the annoying pan, and let it heat up to simmering. Then I turned the heat down.

After a bit I started stirring and simmering and to my surprise -- nothing stuck at all. Not even when I got it up to a "pretty darn good simmer". I scraped out the pan, and really, this is the worst part of the whole experience: the feel and sound of the spoon scraping out anything out of the rough bottom metal pan. It is tooth grindingly annoying.

However, was the food delicious? It was. Did the annoying pan work fine? Yes it did.

One more thing. After the fire hamburgers, and the 20 minutes of cleaning I did last time, there was still a patch of burned on gunk on the bottom of the pan, about the size of half of my palm. I was not going to clean the pan more. I was worried, how will the pan develop seasoning on top of that gunk? What am I doing with my life? Why am I making my life more difficult for the sake of this five dollar pan?

So I was quite worried the food would stick, especially to that spot. Now to my surprise, after cleaning out the pan after the curry, I found out that a big chunk of the gunk had disappeared. I mean, not gonna lie, that does mean it got in my food. But I decided I wasn't going to be worried about it because I grew up in the 80s eating styrofoam cups as a kid.

So: baked on crud: slowly coming off. Just a patch the size of a nickel or two. The feel of that bottom: it's terrible. But I'm feeling a bit better about this whole project. I think the oil I put on after using the pan soaked into the gunk and lifted it off the next time everything was heated. And that whole process works better at getting the gunk off than boiling water in the pan (which I tried) and scrubbing with a plastic scrubber (which I also tried).

Anyway, after the curry, the pan cleaned right up. With the exception of that little patch of gunk, it's actually looking pretty reasonable, just in terms of color. It's still like cooking on sandpaper though, not great. I put another coat of oil on it (I tried to go lighter on the oil, but that meant shredding more paper towels) and it's ready for the next adventure.