**Please note: To see the photos contained within a post, you must click on the title of the post to open it separately. Why? I don't know. I just know that it needs to be done to see the pics. :)
Giovanni M from Virginia wrote to Ask The Pan Handler, and said:
“Good morning, I have a technical question on this griddle picture attached. Can you identify it by the correct ‘Size Number’ because I know a lot of makers used the same nomenclature for these things, but I can’t for the life of me figure it out. The markings on the back say US CMC 1951. It weighs a lot, maybe 40 lbs. Appreciate your assistance, you seem to know a lot about this stuff. I have a few other old pots and cast iron pans hanging around but for now, I need to research this one, thanks again.”
Giovanni attached this photo to his request:
Giovanni, that looks like a nice griddle that just needs a bit of cleaning up before it can be put to good use!
If I understand your question correctly, you are asking me to kind of “assign” a number to your griddle, such as are commonly used by other manufacturers, e.g. Griswold long griddle number 8, Wagner long griddle number 9, etc.
It looks like your Korean War Military griddle measures about 31″ handle to handle, 28″ long not including the handles, and 19″ wide. You said it weighs about 42 pounds.
I can tell you that a Griswold “Family Grill” – apparently considered by Griswold to be a size 18 – measures 16-3/4″ x 10″. A number 11 Griswold long griddle, however, measures 25″ x 13-1/2″. One Griswold size 8 long griddle measures 19-5/8″ x 9-1/2″. Another measures 10-1/8″ x 7-3/4″. So, it’s pretty much impossible to assign a size number to your griddle; you’ll just need to be satisfied that you have a big nice long griddle!
Thank you for your question, Giovanni!
I have mentioned before that I have been trying Blue Apron and really enjoying the experience. Sometimes I LOVE what I’ve made, sometimes I like it, and only once did I actively dislike what I made.
This is one of of those occasions where I LOVED what I made. The steak and sauce was fantastic! I over-salted the kale, so didn’t love it, but without so much salt I am sure I would have enjoyed it more. The potatoes were good as well.
Yet another occasion to cook steak in my Griswold #8 slant logo skillet!Steaks au Poirve with Crispy Fingerling Potatoes and Sautéed Kale
From Blue Apron. Serves 2 (though I loved the steak and sauce so much I ate most of both at once!), ~700 calories per serving.Ingredients: 2 top sirloin steaks (about 10 oz. total was provided – use more or less to your taste) 2 cloves garlic 1 bunch kale 3?4 lb fingerling potatoes 2 T crème fraîche 1 T butter 1 T beef demi-glace 1?2 t coarsely ground black ppper 1/4 c grated parmesan cheese Salt, pepper, olive oil
Cook & peel the potatoes:
Wash and dry the kale. Heat a medium pot of salted water to boiling on high. Once boiling, add the potatoes and cook 14 to 16 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a fork. Drain thoroughly and set aside to cool slightly. When cool enough to handle, using a paring knife, carefully peel the cooked potatoes; discard the skins. Transfer to a bowl.
Note: I thought that peeling the potatoes was a pain. Were I to make them again, I would leave them unpeeled.
Prepare the ingredients:
While the potatoes cook, peel and mince the garlic. Remove and discard the kale stems; coarsely chop the leaves.
Cook the steaks:
Pat the steaks dry with paper towels; season both sides with salt and half the black pepper (reserving the rest). In a size 8 or larger cast iron skillet (one big enough to hold your steaks without crowding), heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium until hot. Add the seasoned steaks and cook 2 to 4 minutes per side for medium-rare, or until browned and cooked to your desired degree of doneness. Transfer to a plate, leaving any browned bits (or fond) in the pan. Set the cooked steaks aside to rest for at least 5 minutes.
Cook the kale:
Add 2 teaspoons of olive oil to the cast iron pan with reserved fond; heat on medium until hot. Add the garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until fragrant. Add the kale and 1?4 cup of water. Cook, stirring occasionally and scraping up any fond from the bottom of the pan, 3 to 5 minutes, or until the kale has wilted and the liquid has cooked off. Remove from heat and stir in the cheese; season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a bowl and set aside in a warm place. Rinse and wipe out the pan.
Note: I followed the Blue Apron directions and added salt and pepper at various stages of cooking the kale. I deleted that from the instructions, as my kale was far too salty. The parmesan itself is salty; I would hold off on seasoning with salt until you taste after cooking.
Brown the potatoes:
In the same cast iron skillet, heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium until hot. Add the peeled potatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, 6 to 8 minutes, or until crispy and browned on all sides. Transfer to a bowl and set aside in a warm place. Wipe out the skillet.
Finish & plate:
Return the rested steaks to the pan. Add the demi-glace, crème fraîche, remaining black pepper and 1?4 cup of water; cook on medium, stirring occasionally, 1 to 2 minutes, or until the sauce is slightly reduced (note: this happened very quickly for me). Add the butter; cook, spooning the sauce over the steaks, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Transfer the finished steaks to a cutting board; thinly slice against the grain. Divide the cooked kale, browned potatoes and sliced steaks between 2 plates. Top with the pan sauce. Serve any remaining pan sauce on the side.
Enjoy, and just try to restrain yourself from eating both steaks, as I did!
We visited Harold R. Henry of Hamilton, Missouri in October 2015 and I wrote a long, photo-laden blog post about his collection (you can find it by looking in the October 2015 archives of the blog). Southern Cast Iron Magazine has condensed and printed it in their Spring 2016 edition, hitting newsstands in mid-March 2016.
Here is a link to purchase the magazine online, if you are so inclined.
Reprinted with permission.
Michael D. from MA wrote to Ask The Pan Handler with several inquiries. In part, he said:
“I totally screwed up a beautiful pan my wife got me a while back. See the photos…It was totally smooth before I messed it up. I had scrubbed some of the same type of stuff off the inside walls prior to “seasoning it.” Now it’s everywhere. Any assist you can give me to bring it back would be much appreciated.”
Here are the photos that Michael sent:
From my several emails with Michael, it sounds as though he spent hours and a lot of elbow grease cleaning his pan to bare iron – or as close to bare iron as he could get with elbow grease alone. He then used some methodology to season the pan, but ended up with the blotchy spiderwebs that you see in the photos.
Michael, I can assure you that just about everyone who has seasoned vintage cast iron cookware has seen these same blotches in their first efforts. The blotches that you see are from uneven layers / too much of the seasoning oil that you applied, which then cooked on to the surface of the pan.
As I understand it (I am no scientist!), in simple layperson’s terms, when the oil you are using for seasoning heats beyond its smoke point, it changes composition, polymerizes, and forms a thin hard elasticized layer on the iron which protects the surface. That hard layer is what we call the “seasoning.” Here is an article from Serious Eats which explains the smoke points of various oils, and why it matters. In addition to the chart on Serious Eats, you can find charts all over the web that list the smoke points of various oils.
You can see on your pan that you had too much of your seasoning oil, which then resulted in the blotchiness upon heating. I bet your house smoked to high heaven while seasoning it – am I right?
I use Crisco vegetable shortening when I season my pans (plain Crisco; not the butter flavor). Crisco works best for me to season pans. I do not use flax seed oil. I have tried it, and in my experience (and the experience of many others), after some period of time it flakes off. There is a lot of controversy in the cast iron world about what oil is best to season your pan. I am not saying that my method is best or the only way; I am just saying that I use Crisco. Do some research on the web – you will see a jillion different oils and ways that people season their pans.
In your case, you can go ahead and use your pan, if you like. The seasoning will continue to build up with use and heat. If the aesthetics bother you (and I can see why it would – if you go through all that effort to clean the pan, you want it to look clean), strip the seasoning which you just applied from the pan, re-clean and re-season.
People all over the place have their own favorite methods of cleaning and seasoning. Mine is not the only way; it is just the way that works for me. That said, here’s what I would suggest for your pan:
To strip the seasoning (see also the FAQs section – there is an article there about cleaning vintage cast iron pans).
One easy method to strip the seasoning from a pan is to apply a thick coat of Easy-Off Oven Cleaner all over the pan, then place the pan in a large zip lock bag. Let it sit for a few days, to allow the Easy-Off to do the work for you. Be sure to follow the cautionary instructions on the can – use gloves and protective skin covering!
Once you have a nice bubbling mess inside the bag, remove the pan from the bag. Again, follow the cautionary instructions and protect yourself in doing so. Rinse it under hot water. Use stainless steel scrubbie balls and Dawn blue or Dawn Platinum dishwashing detergent to scrub the pan to bare iron. If you still have built up crud, apply more Easy-Off and put it back into the bag. Repeat until the pan is cleaned to bare iron.
To re-season (see also the FAQs section – there is an article there about seasoning and caring for vintage cast iron pans).
Thoroughly dry the pan using paper towels. Place it in the oven. Turn the heat to 450 degrees. Let the pan cook in the oven for an hour.
Turn off the oven, let the pan cool. Remove the pan from the oven when it is still warm – use potholders/towels/mitts/whatever is necessary to protect your hands from the heat.
Using a clean terrycloth rag (or shop towel), apply a THIN layer of Crisco vegetable shortening all over the pan, including any nooks and crannies. It is easiest to apply a very thin layer if the pan is hot. Use oven mitts – be sure to protect your skin!
Wipe the Crisco off the pan with a separate towel. It should appear as though there is no Crisco remaining on the pan – you should not have a “wet” looking surface.
Place the pan upside down into the oven. If you wish, you can place aluminum foil under the pan to catch any drips. I do not find this necessary. When you first start seasoning pans, though, it is common to use more Crisco than you really need (hence the spiderweb pattern that you see on your pan), so you might want to err on the side of caution and use the aluminum foil.
Turn the oven to 500 degrees. Let the pan cook for an hour. You may notice some smoke and an odor coming from the oven. Presuming you have a very thin layer of your seasoning oil on the pan, it should not be a tremendous amount. Be sure to turn on your vent fan.
Once the pan has cooked for an hour, turn off the oven. Let the pan cool. While still warm but not too hot to handle, remove the pan. Using the terry towel, wipe another very thin layer of Crisco all over the pan.
Let the pan cool.
Use that pan! I typically recommend that people begin with liberal use of their preferred oil and/or cook fatty foods such as hamburger to start. The seasoning will continue to build up with use.
After Use of the Pan:
After each use of the pan, be sure to clean it thoroughly, removing all food residue. It is easiest to clean while still warm. I use a plastic brush, stainless scrubbie balls, and/or a chain mail scrubber, depending on what I feel is necessary. I use a small amount of soap when I want to use soap. You can see my routine cleaning process on my youtube channel – see here and here.
Once the pan is cleaned, dry it thoroughly with paper towels. You may wish to heat it on your cooktop or in your oven to ensure it is completely dry. Wipe it with a THIN layer of your preferred oil (I use a spray of Pam on a paper towel) before storing. If you store your pans stacked in a drawer or cupboard, put paper towel between each pan. I keep some of my personal cast iron in my oven drawer, and I display my oft-used #5 and #8 on my counter in a rack.
Thanks very much for your inquiry and your patience in awaiting a reply, Michael. Now…go cook up some delights in your pan!
And Just For Fun…
Here are two photos that show how the Griswold Manufacturing Company recommended seasoning cast iron pans upon purchase (obtained via the wild, wild web).
Dean R, from Massachusetts, wrote to “Ask The Pan Handler” and sent along two photographs of a pretty square skillet.
Dean asked for help with identification of the pan. He said, “This skillet has a gate mark, is marked with L7 on the bottom, and has four small legs. It has a very detailed handle and a unique shape. Thank you!”
Here are photos of Dean’s pans:
I have written a blog post that might help some of you with identifying your old cast iron pieces; you can find it here.
Dean, you have a pretty skillet! I like the detail on the handle, in particular. Some of the very old skillets and griddles have very interesting and beautiful designs on the handle.
Unfortunately, I cannot tell you which foundry produced your pan. I can tell you that is is a very old pan; most foundries stopped producing gate-marked pieces by around the 1880s, and certainly by around 1900. There were many, many foundries that produced American-made iron, however. Given the dearth of photographs and advertisements for cookware of that era, it is not possible for me to tell you with certainty or accuracy who made your pan.
I can say it is a beautiful old pan; just a bit of rust removal and re-seasoning, and it will be a fine cooker!
Readers, if an of you do know with certainty who manufactured Dean’s pan, do write to me and let me know (and provide your reference materials). If someone does come up with a definitive answer, I’ll update this post so we can all be educated!
Thanks for your inquiry, Dean.