Why You Should Rotate Your Cast Iron Skillet When Preheating

Cooking with cast iron brings with it its own rules, such as how to clean it after use and how to season it. There are also ways it shouldn't and should be used. Simmering acidic foods like tomato sauce for a long period of time in a cast iron skillet should be avoided because the acidity in the food can result in metal molecules being loosened from the skillet and allowed to touch your food, according to America's Test Kitchen. A cast iron skillet also needs to be preheated before the ingredients are added to ensure a proper cook of the food. 

According to Food Network, some of the best ways to use a cast iron skillet are to fry, caramelize, sear, and bake items in it. It's also great for hearty one-skillet dinners. There are seven foods that should always be made in a cast iron skillet, per Cooking Light: Cornbread, burgers, blackened fish, small steaks, scallops, pommes Anna, and charred vegetables. 

Avoid hot spots

While Food Network recommends frying food in a cast iron skillet, it also cautions that the skillet needs to be rotated in order to avoid hot spots. By rotating the skillet, the heat will be evenly distributed. In fact, Food & Wine states that if a cast iron skillet is preheated on a stove's burner, it will take at least 10 minutes before it's completely heated. Even after 10 minutes, the heat will be primarily over the burner's flame or the heating element. According to Food & Wine, the best way to make sure that the skillet is evenly heated is to rotate it regularly. Another option is to put the skillet in a hot oven for about 20 minutes.

While preheating the cast iron skillet may sound like a fair amount of extra work, Taste of Home states it's essential to getting beautifully finished food. Preheating should be done when you bake, sear, fry, or roast food in a cast iron skillet because it will help the food cook faster. By preheating the skillet, according to Taste of Home, the dough will not be as likely to stick and will lead to char on steak or another protein ingredient. 

Next time you get out your well-seasoned cast iron skillet, remember two things: Preheat it on the stove or in the oven and use an oven mitt — that baby will be hot!