The pre-seasoned Combo Cooker probably “could” be used out of the box, but I was raised by my grandparents and to do so would simply go against the grain, not to mention those “this is how its done” mental tapes recorded so many long years ago and which still pop-up for instant replay today. 8)
Phase one was simply scrubbing out the brand new pans in very hot water to remove any coating applied for shipping. Sure enough, the inside bottom of each pan felt a bit “gritty” so I worked out on them with the green scrubbing side of a scrubbing sponge I often use to break loose the most stubborn chunks from my cast iron cookware. That may have removed part of the factory seasoning, but it was a lot smoother when done. I wiped the pans dry with paper towels, then placed each on a burner to finish evaporating *all* of the moisture from them.
Stepped outside and started preheating the grill as the pans cooled back down. When they were cool enough to handle with bare hands, but still warm enough to melt Crisco, I went out and (using my fingers) applied a thin coat of Crisco to each entire pan.
Then placed them upside-down on the grill (all four burners are on).
I am talking HOT here. If this iron were not pre-seasoned, I would have used a medium-low temperature and left them in there for at least an hour, then turned off the burners and let everything cool on its own. Since this time it is “phase one” for pre-seasoned iron, I can get away with high heat and much shorter time, (just under a half hour).
Eventually I removed the pans, taking them to the stove-top to finish cooling off. If you don’t let them cool on the grill first, it is best to use welder’s gloves *and* a hot pad to move them. 😉 (Side-note: This made me remember an old idea for another inexpensive iron grate I need to rig outside for both cooling and cooking with coals. Might follow up on than one this week sometime).
After both pans were cooled, I repeated the entire process, including the hot-water scrub. I think that is important, but it really is optional. All of this was accomplished on Friday evening. At the end, after full cooling then washing without the vigorous scrubbing – I returned them to the stove top, wiped the inside only down with Crisco, heated them on the stove then just wiped out the excess with paper towels and left them there overnight.
Phase two began on Saturday, and this was based upon my Grandmother’s advice, which was simply to “fry up some bacon in it first”. My Granny was smart, and paid good attention all her life. A literal “fountain of wisdom” for a young boy with a good memory himself.
About this time, my wife peeked out the back door and asked “how is it going”. My response was “come on out and see”.
About this time her enthusiasm for my little “project” grew to a new height. 8)
Of course I saved back the bacon grease in a little pan for use later on.
After everything was again cooled down, it was back to the sink for yet another hot-water wash-down and scrubbing. Naturally there were some bacon bits stuck to the bottom of the pan, but they were surprisingly easy to scrub off due to my “Phase one” preparations. Then back to the stove-top with burners on to make certain *all* of the water was evaporated from the iron. The final step was to re-heat the pan of left-over bacon grease and pour it all through a strainer into the smaller pan for a minute. Then I transferred it to the larger pan – then finally back through the strainer into the, (now freshly cleaned), little pan. After a few minutes, (before it reached the smoke point), I turned off the burners – then very carefully wiped up the excess grease, carefully coating the inside of the pan as part of that process.
On Sunday, my buddy who is also an iron-cookware enthusiast, came over for an early dinner and was fascinated with the gloss-black, super smooth, seasoning of my new Combo Cooker.
I then used it to cook off Meatballs and sauce for our spaghetti dinner with he and the Mother-in-law joining us. Can you spell “H E R O”? 😀
The meatballs were browned off in the “lid” pan while the sauce was simmering in the deep pan. The browned meatballs were introduced into the sauce, stirred, then covered with the lid to simmer until done. Cleanup afterward was yet another quick hot-water wash-down, heating, and coating with a thin coat of hot bacon-grease. The Combo Cooker is ready for its next use and from this point forward that is all there will be to it – as long as I take proper care of my newest addition to my iron-ware fixation. 8)