I've tried using a cast iron skillet to cook boneless, skinless chicken breasts and pork chops using the following method:
1. coat chicken/pork with light olive oil and seasonings (I use the Weber Grill seasoning mixes)
2. preheat cast iron skillet on medium-high heat
3. add meat to skillet
4. cook, turning once halfway through the cooking process
Every time I try this, I have the same problem: the majority of the spices burn, turn to charred carbon, and stick to the bottom of the skillet underneath the meat they came off of while the meat cooks. As the meat continues to cook, the carbonized spices start to smoke. Once the meat has finished cooking, it has a "carbony" flavor to it from cooking on top of the charred spices. The charred spices may also set off my smoke alarm. Both of these effects are highly undesirable.
I originally wanted to use my cast iron pan as an indoor approximation to grilling. I figured it was the only way to cook the chicken/pork with a high enough heat indoors to promote browning, as grilling does.
Whenever I grill outdoors, the meat browns nicely without having a carbony taste. I'm guessing the spices still char and carbonize, but the bits probably fall between the grill grates and therefore avoid imparting a charred flavor to the meat.
Here are my questions:
- In general, are spices supposed to burn and char when they are on meat that is cooked over a grill or cast iron skillet? Should I be using different spices and/or lower heat? The meat itself isn't charring, only the spices.
- When cooking in a cast iron skillet, are the spices supposed to char and stick to the bottom of the skillet, giving my food a "burnt" flavor and producing a lot of smoke?
- Should I be using thinner cuts of meat? The chicken breasts and pork chops I cook with are pretty thick (3/4"-1" thick)