There is no doubt that cast iron cookware is the king of the kitchen. Not only is it nearly indestructible, it retains heat like a champ, sears steak like nobodies business, pieces are relatively inexpensive (when compared to stainless steel) and easily moves from the stovetop to the oven without worry about the handles or the finish being destroyed. But let me ask you, have you ever thought about moving it from the kitchen stovetop to your outdoor grill? Yes, folks… this is cast iron cooking; grill edition.
If you have an outdoor grill or smoker for that matter, this post is for you. Save some of your hard-earned cash and skip those specialty pans or baskets that companies design ‘just for the grill’. Your cast iron transitions easily to outdoor use. In fact, it was the original outdoor cookware (think pioneers or cowboys gathered around a fire preparing dinner). Between cast iron skillets and dutch ovens, one could prepare an entire meal with these versatile pieces.
While most of us are no longer cooking over a fire while on cattle drives or traveling cross-country, we can still enjoy cast iron cookware from the comforts of a deck, patio, or backyard.
Cast Iron Cooking; Grill Edition Tips
- thaw meat or vegetables thoroughly
- pre-heat cast iron on the grill before using
- melt a fat, such as lard, in the cast iron pan as it preheats
- drain any marinade from meat or vegetables prior to grilling
- keep small children and pets away from the grill and cast iron
- place grill in a well-ventilated area
- use of charcoal, propane, or electricity are all good options ( the type of heat source is a personal preference)
- outdoor grill
- heat source (dependent on grill type): pellets, wood, charcoal, propane, or electricity
- cast iron skillet (select one large enough for food to fit without being crowded)
- fat for lubricating the cast iron skillet (so cooked food does not stick)
- thermometer for checking the temperature (optional)
- tongs to stir and/or flip food
- oven mitt(s) to hold or pickup hot cast iron
- platter to move cooked food to
Benefits of Using Cast Iron on the Grill
- reduced flare-ups from fat dripping (compared to grilling directly on the grill grate)
- food does not fall through the grill grate and into the fire (ever lose a hotdog or grilled asparagus spear through the grate)?
- uniform heat distribution to the food
- food does not stick (when cast iron is properly lubricated compared to a grill grate)
- able to apply a sauce without loosing it through the grill grate
Steps to Cast Iron Cooking; Grill Edition
- Pre-heat the grill
- Place cast iron pan on the grill grate
- Add fat to pan
- Close grill cover to retain heat
- Check the temperature of the pan with a thermometer (I shoot for a temperature between 400 – 450F).
- Add food to be cooked (for this example, using pork)
- Stir periodically so food does not stick to pan
- In between stirring the food, replace the grill cover. This helps retain heat so the food will cook more quickly
- Season with salt, pepper (or other seasonings to taste)
- Cook food (pork) until it reaches an internal temperature of 145F
- Optional step: add a sauce to the pork (in this case, BBQ), and stir until it thoroughly coats the meat and the sauce becomes hot
- Remove cast iron pan from grill
- Transfer pork to a waiting platter or dish
- Turn off grill, you are done
NOTE: Step 13 is very important. Cast iron is an excellent material for retaining heat. If you do not remove the cooked food from cast iron, it will continue to cook (due to residual heat) and food may dry out or potentially burn on the bottom.
Also worth noting, you do not have to use the highest temperature setting in order to grill with cast iron. Depending on which type of food you will cook, a medium low to medium is generally quite sufficient. For those of you with a temperature dial, please use that. If you have an older grill or a grill that simply does not have a temperature dial/gauge, please use a thermometer.
Practical Cast Iron Tips
- Use a pan that is the right size for the quantity of food you will be cooking as well the pan fitting on the grill (I have a very small grill and my go-to 12″ cast iron skillet would not fit on the grill)
- Remember that cast iron is heavy and when full of food is heavier still; use the assist handle (tiny handle opposite of the standard handle) in addition to the regular handle
- Once your cast iron pan has become hot, remember to use oven mitts when lifting or repositioning the pan
- Allow cast iron to cool before cleaning it
So folks, let this post inspire you to take your cast iron out of the kitchen and into the backyard. These rugged pots and skillets work well not only in an oven or stovetop but great on the grill as well. Won’t you give cooking in cast iron, grill edition, a try?
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