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After his horse and his six-shooter the cast iron skillet is the Cowboy’s best friend.

Cast iron is an ideal heat conductor, providing even and consistent heat. Inexpensive and yet able to withstand a life on the range, it is the old-fashioned cowboy way to cook fat free. When well seasoned, a cast-iron pan is stick resistant and requires no additional oil.

The Cowboy method of maintaining cast iron cookware is to “season” or “cure” it. Food will not stick to the bottom of a properly seasoned skillet. Properly seasoned iron will not rust.

Seasoning cast iron requires you to fill the pores in the metal with grease. Once cooked in, the cowboy has a smooth, nonstick surface.

Many of today’s new cast iron pans come preseasoned. That said, there’s no reason not to re-season after you get one.

A cast iron skillet should be properly cleaned and re-seasoned after every use and after any extended period of non-use. Whether this is the first of the thousandth time you use the pan, here’s how to season a cast iron skillet:

Wash with warm water. If you must, use a small amount of dishwashing soap, but try to avoid it. Using a sponge or brush, clean gently. Dry completely.

NEVER put cast-iron cookware in the dishwasher.

Place the cleaned cast iron pan on the heated burner of your stove for a few moments to completely dry. While the pan is warm, lightly oil inside of pan with a flavorless cooking oil (canola, sunflower, Crisco, lard).

Mop up excess oil with a paper towel.

If your food gets a metallic taste, or turns “black”, it means your pot has not been sufficiently seasoned.

If your cast iron skillet gets minor rust spots, scour the rusty areas with steel wool. Wash, dry, and repeat seasoning process.