Long before the wok was introduced to American kitchens, cowboys would cook their meals in an old harrow disc. The parabolic discs used to break up soil in tilled fields do resemble woks, and after you've properly cleaned one, it is no more difficult to use than any other uncoated steel cookware. And because most of these discs are made of 1/4-inch steel, they can last a lifetime with proper care.
Things You'll Need
- Uncoated steel disc harrow blade, 24 to 26 inches in diameter
- Wire brush
- Steel scouring pads
- Dish soap
- # 8-32 stainless-steel flathead machine screw, 1/2 inch in length
- #8-32 stainless-steel machine hex nut
- Stainless-steel fender washer 1/4 by 1 1/4 inch
- Adjustable wrench or pliers
- Locking pliers for handle
- Gas range, grill or wood fire
- Hot pad
- Vegetable shortening
- Clean cloth
- Cooling oil
Thoroughly clean the disc using a wire brush, scouring pads and mild dish soap. Remove any dirt, oil, grease, rust or other contaminants on the disc.
Place the machine screw through the washer, then through the axle hole in the inside center of the disc. Attach the hex nut to the machine screw and tighten with a screwdriver and wrench. Tighten the screw so that the washer forms a tight seal against the inside bottom of the disc.
Adjust the locking pliers so that they clamp firmly onto the side of the disc. Place one edge of the disc all the way into the jaws of the pliers and lock it down.
Heat the disc over a gas range, grill or fire until it's very warm, but not too hot. Apply a coating of vegetable shortening over both surfaces of the disc, then allow it to cool. Wipe any excess shortening from the disc after it has cooled.
Heat the pan on your range or grill before adding the cooking oil. Add the oil and let it heat up, then add the food you wish to cook. The oil helps prevent food from sticking to the pan.
Tips & Warnings
- This pan works best on a gas range or a grill; the hex nut on the bottom prevents it from sitting level on a glass-top or electric range. If you want to use your pan on a flat cooking surface, obtain a wok ring for it to sit on.
- If you're handy at welding, you can weld steel handles on either side of the disc.
- Don't make a pan out of a coated disc blade. The powder coating on new disc blades isn't rated for food safety and could be toxic.
- Use a stainless-steel washer, screw and nut to seal the axle hole in the bottom of the pan. Regular steel hardware will rust. Also, don't use a locking nut on the pan — the nylon collar in the nut will melt in the heat of a cooking fire.
- Once you've begun using your pan, don't use soap to wash it. Soap removes the “cure” -- the layer of carbonized oil that forms in the pan and helps keep food from sticking. Just use hot water to remove grease and food particles, then dry it thoroughly to prevent rust.
- Don't put the pan in the dishwasher; this will remove the cure and accelerate the rusting process.
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