It is difficult not to get disheartened when your chicken becomes stuck to the skillet, and it is even more difficult not to become disheartened when the chicken is being cooked in a cast iron pan, which is recognized for its innate nonstick capabilities. Do not give up on using cast iron for cooking just yet, even if you find that this occurs more often than you are willing to admit. According to an article that was published in Bon Appetit, there is a foolproof method that may keep your chicken from sticking to the pan in the first place, and it has a lot to do with the temperature. Instead of placing your cold chicken, which has been stored in the refrigerator, directly into a cast iron pan, you should first allow the chicken to get to room temperature and then completely preheat the pan. Before you add the chicken to the pan, make sure that there is a large quantity of fat already present in the pan. This fat may be oil or butter.
The culinary scientist Harold McGee explains in his book “Keys to Good Cooking” (via The Washington Post) that when fat is cooked, it binds to cast iron and creates a barrier that prevents meals from sticking to the pan. According to McGee, the addition of this additional layer of nonstick coating is especially important when cooking chicken. Not only is chicken a protein, which is already prone to sticking, but it’s also a protein that has lower fat content than, say, bacon. This makes it especially important to have a nonstick coating.
It’s Possible That You Will Need to Re-Season Your Cast Iron.
Even after preheating the pan, getting the chicken to a higher temperature, and adding a fair quantity of fat to the pan, if your chicken is still sticking after all of these steps, there is a significant probability that there is an entirely other problem. According to an article published in Food & Wine, cast iron tends to cause food to adhere to it when the pan is not properly seasoned or when there are residual bits of burnt food attached to the bottom of the pan. This problem often arises after you have prepared food that includes sugar, so if the meal you just prepared had honey barbecue sauce or another kind of sweet glaze, be sure to thoroughly clean your cast iron pan before using it again.
After you have removed any portions that have been scorched, you will need to season your cast iron skillet in the same manner that you did when you initially obtained it. Simply grease your baking dish with vegetable oil, bake it in an oven preheated to 350 degrees for an hour while it is inverted, and then let it cool there until it returns to room temperature. As long as you follow these instructions, the nonstick coating on your cast iron will be preserved, and you will never have to worry about the wonderful chicken skin sticking to its surface again.