BREAKING IN YOUR BUTTER PAT
Our primer for new-pan owners.
If you’re reading this, one way or another, you are part of the Butter Pat family. Maybe you recently bought your first pan, or are still weighing a purchase, or have collected the whole kit and caboodle—bless your hearts.
Either way, it’s worth knowing what to do when you finally get that piece of cast iron in your possession. Unfortunately, the internet has added a bunch of misnomers and malarkey to the process; there is no need to involve a potato, nor do you need to strip your pan or reseason it.
Instead, just follow these simple instructions:
WASH YOUR PAN.
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it many times again—the first thing you need to do after opening your box is clean your damn pan. Wash it with water, with soap, before fully drying it, and adding a touch of tool oil. At first, a gentle rinse will do, but over time, you can scrub the heck out of it. During those intensive cleanings, some of your seasoning might disappear in the process, but that’s okay—you’re working toward a progressive patina, it won’t happen overnight. Keeping your pan clean helps keep a smooth surface. What kind of soap? Any, though we tend to use those akin to Dawn. And how about dishwashers? Hard no.
DRY YOUR PAN.
This is a crucial step, whether you’re breaking in your new pan or cleaning between meals. And we only recommend one way: immediately after washing, heat your pan on the stove.
In a matter of minutes or seconds, depending on the strength of your stove, this will evaporate any residual water, which causes rust—aka the arch nemesis of iron. Don’t leave it in the sink. Don’t let it air dry. Forgo paper towels and dish cloths, which always leave behind some moisture. Rust doesn’t mean the death of your pan, but it’s best to avoid it for the flavor of your food and the longevity of your pan. If some appears, don’t panic, and see our Use and Care page for more instructions.
OIL YOUR PAN.
Oil to your just-washed cast iron is like a coat of wax on your just-cleaned car. It helps protect the smooth surface we worked hard to achieve and, over time, the non-stick seasoning that you’ve spent hours in the kitchen or over the fire working toward. Immediately after drying, while the pan is still warm, lightly coat all surfaces with a thin layer of refined oil. We prefer refined canola, but any refined variety will do. Unrefined oils, like butter and many olive oils, are more likely to go rancid between meals. Now your pan is ready to be stored or, better yet, fired up for supper!
COOK IN YOUR PAN.
It’s one of our most frequently asked questions: what should I cook first in my new cast iron? The answer is, anything, really—anything that fills the pan, uses oil or fat, and gets cooked at a consistently high heat, preferably at 500 degrees and in your oven. This helps seal in that next layer of seasoning and set you off on the right foot. In the Lili, roast a chicken with some vegetables. In the Heather or Estee, try your hand at cornbread. The Homer? Popcorn, hands down. Whatever you do, keep it simple to start. Avoid sticky dishes, like mac-and-cheese, or low-and-slow meals, like eggs and bacon. Then wash, dry, oil, and repeat.
COOK IN YOUR PAN SOME MORE.
We know they’re pretty, but Butter Pats aren’t meant to sit in the kitchen. Our pans are exceptionally smooth, but the more you use them, the more you build their seasoning into a truly non-stick surface, and the better and better they will be to cook with. So get started.
USE COMMON SENSE.
Cooking with cast iron shouldn’t be rocket science. For the most part, you’re not going to ruin your pan, unless you do something truly stupid (guilty, at times—ask us about that one summer storm or the ad-hoc dog bowl). But if you take decent care of it, it will last a long, long time. Generations, actually. A few more pointers:
- Avoid burns: Iron gets hots, including our tabs and handles. Use oven or fire mitts when handling to avoid trips to the emergency room.
- Use two hands: Our nameplate tabs were designed to encourage you to exactly that. Even though our pans are very light in comparison to other cast iron, there’s no need to show off.
- Watch your acid: Ingredients like tomatoes, wine, balsamic vinegar, and citrus are all acidic and can remove seasoning on your pan, which also lends to an off-putting flavor. We say cook with them, but do so sparingly, and only in a well-seasoned skillet. Just be sure to follow up with that wash-dry-oil routine afterwards.
For more tips, tricks, and recipes, visit butterpatindustries.com.