Cast iron is a wonderful material that can add to your kamado bbq on many fronts. The heat conduction and heat retention of a cast iron grill, for example, ensures that your grill has even heat everywhere and also gives those iconic grill stripes on your dish. A cast iron pan or plate has the same heat conduction and thus ensures that your pan is equally hot all around, so you have virtually no points of peak heat in one spot. This is mainly ideal with a dutch oven when you are making a sauce or stew, for example, where the entire pan has the same heat.
However, to get the best out of your cast iron you will need to treat it properly first, this will ensure that virtually nothing can stick to the cast iron and anything that sticks is also easy to take off again. This treatment can also be used when you have not used your cast iron for a long time and may even have rust spots on it. These rust spots are a sign of improper pre-treatment, which is why a once-over is the best option. This will make your cast iron last for years again. I personally use my cast iron products regularly (about once every two weeks) and therefore do a quick re-treatment of the cast iron about once a quarter for continued good function. Cast iron is not cheap, but with proper treatment it really can last a lifetime.
Some of the cast iron is already pre-treated when you buy it, however, the vast majority is not. Undespite any pretreatment, it is still recommended to go through the steps yourself. In fact, there is no telling how this pretreatment was done or how closely it was done.
- Coconut oil / Crisco
- Silicone brush
- Oven or kamado
- Detergent and dishwashing mortar
- Work shelf that can withstand heat (not plastic!)
- Old tea towel
- Kitchen roll
- Cast iron you want to treat
The first step is to get all the stuff ready and turn on your oven or barbecue (direct cooking) to 170 degrees. I personally use my oven for this because of the convenience, just make sure your cast iron product will fit in the oven. You can also use your kamado for this, especially as a novice kamado user it is a good way to practice with your temperature fastness.
Grab your cast iron and the dish soap and brush. This is the only time you are going to wash off your cast iron with dish soap, unlike other times you are going to re-treat it. This is because the detergent washes the wax/coconut oil off the cast iron, making it very vulnerable to rusting. Place the cast iron in the sink or a tub that it fits in and scrub the cast iron well throughout. Don’t forget to scrub the side and, in the case of a grate, also between the bars well. I used a new 15″ Compact cast iron grate for this example.
After scrubbing the cast iron clean, it’s time to burn out the last bits of pretreatment/wax and get it as dry as possible. Rinse the grill well and dry it as much as possible before placing it in the oven or on the kamado. The grill is now allowed to “bake out” at 170 degrees for 30 minutes.
When the 30 minutes are up, it’s time to take the cast iron out of the oven or kamado. In doing so, pay close attention that this one is incredibly hot!!! Use heat-resistant gloves and place it on a surface you can work on. I personally use a wooden serving board for this, which cannot melt or the like. You will notice that the cast iron has already turned a considerably duller color because the pores are now completely exposed. Use a few pieces of kitchen roll to wipe down the cast iron and remove the last bits of wax/pre-treatment. Again, pay close attention to the fact that the cast iron is hot!
Now that the cast iron is really completely clean and porous, it is time to begin the first coat of treatment. To do this, grab the coconut fat or crisco and your silicone brush. I personally prefer the Coconut fat, Crisco is additionally a good vegetable fat solution you can use. Coconut fat is easily available at almost any Jumbo. Using a teaspoon, take a little coconut fat and drop it on the grill. The heat will melt the bit, after which you can easily continue smearing with the brush.
The smearing also warms up your silicone brush, then you can easily use the brush to spoon some coconut fat out of the jar again and smear directly because it melts. Make sure that the entire surface, all corners, bars, side and back are well smeared and try to make a massaging motion with the brush so that you really smear the coco fat into the pores, as below:
When as well treated and smeared remove any excess (dripping) fat and allow the cast iron to go back into the oven or on the kamado at 170 degrees for an hour. This allows the grease to fuse well on the grid and soak in better. For a dutch oven, put the lid on the pan for this hour.
After the full may the cast iron again from the heat source (be careful; hot!) and dab off the excess grease from the cast iron with a paper towel. After this, let the cast iron cool for half an hour so that the grease can set in the pores.
When the cast iron has cooled down well after the half hour, repeat the steps from step 4 of the treatment and grease the grill well again. While doing this, again, do not forget all the corners of the spikes, side and back!
After oiling again, the grill may be placed in the heat source for another hour for the final “baking session. This step ensures that all the pores (now filled with coconut fat) are covered with a layer of coconut fat. After this second hour, remove the cast iron from the heat source and gently pat off the last remaining fat. Let it cool for another half hour for proper adherence and then it may go onto your kamado to enrich your dish!
Points to watch out for!
Do not clean your cast iron roasters with water after treatment, any caked-on stuff can be burned off if it is good or gently wiped off with your tongs. Because of the treatment, it barely sticks and going over it gently is often enough to clean it, if at all! Don’t go over it with your grid brush!
In advance, have fun grilling!