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I really like to cook chicken in my cast iron skillet and I cook it down with butter and Texas Pete Sauce (my mother does the same, but in Teflon).

My issue is that it takes about 20 minutes to cook the chicken and after about 8-10 the sauce begins to dry up and I have to pour more sauce in to keep the chicken soaked the way I would like (spicy). By the end my chicken is perfect, but I've used a ton more sauce than I believe I need, the kitchen smells like a cayenne pepper farm, and there's a thick layer of dried sauce on my pan.

Any ideas on how to save on sauce or to keep it from drying so quickly?

  • Lower temperature?

  • More butter?

  • Not possible?

I would prefer to continue using the cast iron, thank you.

Update:

Used a smaller skillet (8 in), turned to medium heat, added red wine vinegar for extra liquid.

7

You could just add water instead of extra sauce. The water will cook off just as much as the sauce would have, leaving you with essentially just sauce by the end. If that's not spicy/saucy enough for you, then it means you did actually need some of that extra sauce you've been adding.

Alternatively, you could try lower temperature. If it's all cooking down and drying, you're presumably boiling it, but it only needs to be simmering to cook the chicken. If you're trying to get some browning, you can always increase the temperature at the end. It will probably take a bit longer to cook this way, though.

All that said, I know you said you want to use this pan, but it also kind of sounds like the pan might be too big. Extra surface area means liquid boils off faster. If it were crowded with chicken and sauce in the gaps, then it wouldn't boil off as quickly, and there wouldn't be room for sauce to dry onto the pan.

  • I have a smaller cast iron pan. I'll try that tonight and get back. Thank you – theblindprophet Apr 27 '16 at 18:13
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    The smaller pan was perfect. Really makes sense now since my mother uses a bigger pan but its filled full with chicken while I was using cooking less chicken. My 8" cast iron did the trick. – theblindprophet Apr 27 '16 at 21:37
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First of all, there's no reason why the sauce would dry up faster simply because you're using cast iron instead of a teflon pan. So, you might wish to reexamine your mother's technique to see if there's something else you're doing differently.

That being said, there are a few things you can try.

  • Cover the pan, for at least some of the cooking time.

  • Lower the temperature, so the sauce just simmers and doesn't boil.

  • Add more liquid (e.g.: stock, wine, or even just water)

  • Add something else that will release liquid (e.g.: onions, mushrooms, celery — but note this will work best only when the pan is also covered).

  • Thank you for the tips, I first tried the smaller pan size as recommended by the other user and it was perfect for my scenario. Happy cooking! – theblindprophet Apr 27 '16 at 21:35
  • I have found cast iron can sometimes evaporate more liquid in certain cooking styles. I think it is something to do with teflon pans usually being thinner (thus with less capacity) and also less heat conductive. Such that the liquid heats more slowly and therefore less evaporates. Though this is only the case for short high temp cooking in my experience. – Vality Apr 6 '17 at 22:05

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