Jenny's dig regardless, I started thinking about re-seasoning the old Dutch oven a few days later. The old layer was starting to peel away in places and there was a rusty blush growing on the underside of the lid. It was around that time my father called to tell me about an article on the very same topic in "Cook's Illustrated" magazine that was supposed to revolutionize the way cast iron should be seasoned.
Now, "Cook's Illustrated," in case you don't already know, is the greatest thing to home cooks since sliced bread. The magazine tackles just a few recipes and techniques in each issue, with tons of text on the trial-and-error process that led to the perfection of the final result, which, almost always, works beautifully in my kitchen. There are honest and thorough produce reviews and ingenious tips for convenience in the kitchen and pantry. Add to that the fact that publisher and editor Christopher Kimball is a hunter and often writes beautifully of that pursuit in his letter from the editor and I simply cannot give the publication higher praise.
The staff at "Cook's Illustrated" called blogger Sheryl Canter's seasoning technique for cast iron "ultimate" and that was good enough for my dad and me.
First, a word on seasoning. Cast iron is a desirable material for cookware because it distributes heat evenly and holds it better than any other metal or compound used in making pots and pans. Unless it is "seasoned," however, cast iron is decidedly "stick." To make it non-stick, you must treat the cast iron with several layers of natural oil and heat. The heat causes the omega-3 fatty acids in the oil to combine into a strong coat that gives well-seasoned cast iron pots and pans their smooth, shiny black look.
|This Dutch oven needs love.|
|Stripped down after three rounds with the oven cleaner.|
Now, instead of vegetable oil, the "ultimate" technique calls for flaxseed oil, which has six times the amount of omega-3 fatty acids as "old reliable" and forms a polymerized bond that is supposed to withstand the rigors of a run through the dishwasher and come out unscathed. Such a boast is practically unbelievable to me, (I'm used to cast iron pans that rust in 30 seconds if you don't dry the water residue immediately) but since it's the "ultimate," I paid the $15 for a 12-ounce bottle of flaxseed oil at the local health food store.
I took my stripped Dutch oven and placed it, as instructed, into a 200-degree oven for 15 minutes to "open the pores" of the metal for a better bond. Then I applied a teaspoon of flaxseed oil (well shaken to stir up those all-important lignans) and wiped it into a thin layer the interior of the pot. I applied a similar layer to the lid and cranked the oven up to 550 degrees. When the oven came to temperature, I placed the pot and lid on the middle rack and let it rip for one hour. A word of caution: Ovens operating at such high temps for long periods tend to smoke. Make sure you can open some windows or disable the smoke detectors before you start. If you're married to someone (like I am) with a low tolerance for kitchen smoke, do NOT attempt this while they are at home.
|Patches of cast iron showing through?|