Cooking a steak or burger in a cast iron skillet on the grill gives you the best of both worlds. You’re outside in the fresh air, so there’s no danger of setting off the smoke alarm and the meat acquires a different flavour.
Cooking in a skillet creates a better crust on the meat, as it offers a more even cooking surface than grill grates. The skillet also catches all of the meat drippings, which normally drop through the grill and can cause flare-ups. Patties and steaks are juicier on the inside and crisper on the outside.
A cast iron skillet is the ideal choice for foods that need high heat. For example, meats such as steak that need a hard sear, not scorched, or roasts that should be browned before braising, cook beautifully in a cast iron. The surface of the meat takes on a deep brown colour and crust without accumulating burnt, black bits at the bottom of the pan. To get the most out of cast iron cooking, preheat the pan over the flame so it has time to absorb the heat. As an added bonus, cast iron is oven-safe, so you can take it from the stovetop directly into the oven if you need to keep food warm for a while before serving.
Stir-fried meals are another great cast iron option, because the pan’s ability to hold heat is similar to that of a wok. A proper stir-fry cooks up in minutes, crisping the rice and/or meat, while allowing the vegetables to retain some crunch.
There are a number of myths around the maintenance of cast iron skillets, so check here first before you clean yours.