Cast iron is the best for searing, frying, even baking — is there anything it can’t do? But when it comes time to clean your skillet without destroying the seasoning, there’s a lot of stress involved. And who wants to be stressed out about something as mundane as doing the dishes?
Luckily, thanks to the humble potato, cleaning your skillet no longer needs to be a panic-inducing task. You can have peace of mind and perfectly seared steak too.
According to this hack from Pure Wow, all you need to do is sprinkle your skillet with coarse salt and then use a potato that’s been cut in half (cut side down) to vigorously scrub off any stuck-on food. Rinse with water, then rub with a small amount of oil, and bake the pan at 400 degrees F for an hour.
If you’re super finicky about cleaning your cast iron, this should do the trick. Or you could just, you know, save your potatoes for eating and wash your cast iron with soap and water, as cookbook author and mad kitchen scientist J. Kenji López-Alt recommends.
Many people are afraid that washing a cast-iron pan with soap will rinse off the seasoning. But it turns out the seasoning on your pan is actually made of polymerized oil. When you repeatedly heat oil in the pan, it turns into a plastic-like coating that bonds with the pan and can’t be simply washed off with soap. So if you really want to keep your cast iron maintenance easy, just wash your pan with soap and water, then dry it and re-season as you normally would.
Either way, these simple tips prove that having cast iron isn’t as big a chore as some make it out to be. And to be honest, for cornbread that tastes as good as it does in my skillet, I’d be willing to do some pretty extreme things to keep that baby in tip-top shape.