Ever heard of a grill pan? In this article we’ll discuss what is a grill pan and how does it work.
Grilling or barbecuing is not really something you can do constantly due to limitations created by things that you cannot control such as the weather, lack of outdoor space and even your availability to actually start up the grill and cook. Sometimes, situations like these will simply make setting up the big grill a little bit tedious and make you feel a little bit lazy.
It is easy to resort to the next best thing which is to try indoor grilling. However, some people find it a little bit cumbersome since it involves minor set ups that will ensure you are not engulfed with the smoke coming off of the grill. You have to check for proper ventilation, open up the windows or set up a fan to keep the airflow going. Plus, you might not have the budget for a reliable, good electric or portable grill.
All these things should not hinder or dishearten you from enjoying a scrumptious barbecue meal for the family or for when you want to gather your friends. There is always a way for you to enjoy some good old fashioned grilled meat by using one of the simplest yet, totally rewarding invention since the frying pan. You can use a grill pan instead!
You might have already seen one or are already using one but for those who are interested to do some grilling without so much hassle, a grill pan is something you can use to grill food indoor using kitchen cooking surfaces such as induction cooktops as well as your ordinary stove top.
So, What is a Grill Pan?
In general, a grill pan is designed to cook food like it were being grilled but over indirect heat as you would typically do using a traditional grill. It is also known as a griddle pan which is very similar to a frying pan except for a slight difference in design. While a frying pan has a flat, smooth surface, the grill pan has raised grill lines or parallel ridges about 0.5cm high and 2cm apart.
Cooking on a grill pan creates wonderful grill or char marks on the food while its natural juices flow down, away from the food to keep it from boiling or broiling into a soggy mess. Aside from adding some char marks, it also provides great color and texture to the dishes cooked in it. The grill lines or grids are also designed to sear food evenly while drain excess fat.
The grill pan is the next best thing when it comes to replicating the flavor of food cooked with outdoor grilling sans the process of lighting up charcoal and excessive smoke. It also comes in different shapes and sizes so there are plenty of space for all kinds of ingredients to be grilled or cooked at the same time.
How to Choose the Best Grill Pan?
The best grill pans are usually made from enameled cast iron or cast-iron material. This ensures that the surface area is ideal for retaining a great amount of heat as well as cook food evenly on its surface. Cast iron mimics or creates a better surface for grilling when compared to nonstick pans or frying pans.
A grill pan with deep grooves or ridges is also highly recommended since it will provide a more defined sear as well as char marks while keeping your ingredient away from liquid that can broil or make them soggy.
Avoid buying cheap grill pans that are made from flimsy material because there is a high tendency that it will warp, bent or not retain the right high temperature to give you a good cook. You want to be able to use your grill pan as often as possible and for a longer time so, consider it as one of your important investments in order to enjoy some good barbecue indoors at any time!
How Does a Grill Pan Work?
As mentioned, a grill pan mimics or duplicates similar flavors and appearance as the food that you have cooked in a grill or an open flame. Food that is heat up or placed in a grill pan will get that wonderful iconic line marks and grilled taste because of the pan’s direct contact with high levels of heat.
Just like meat from the grill remains tender, juicy and firmly charred, the ridges of the grill pan recreate this without too much fuss. The ridges built into the grill pan’s cooking surface allow fat to flow off the meat as it would usually drip off on a traditional grill. The pan exposes the food or ingredient to a consistent, constant heat source without steaming, boiling or sautéing the food or saturating it in its own juice and fat.
How to Use a Grill Pan?
The great thing about a grilling pan is that is pretty simple and easy to use. It is almost as easy as using a frying pan to fry up some egg or cook your everyday pancakes in. But, before you start cooking up a storm with it, you should know a few tips and tricks on how to effectively use it.
- Oil Your Pan – It is always a good idea to brush your grill pan with oil. It will prevent the food from sticking on the surface as well as help in cooking any part of the food that is not situated on the grill ridges or grooves. This also helps in building layers of seasoning to your food. You do not need to use too much oil, just a light brushing all over the surface.
- Drain Your Pan – In cooking with your grill pan, it is imperative that you regularly drain out your food. Unlike open, traditional grills where juices flow off naturally between the open grate, the pan’s bottom does not offer the same access. That is why there are spouts created on most cast iron grill pans. These are used to help you discard or drain out excess oil, juices or other liquids that will char or burn on the surface ruining your food. Again, you want grilled, charred food and not fried. The spout will also help you during cleaning the pan out.
- Season Your Pan – You must have heard the word “seasoning” one’s pan especially if it is made from cast iron. This process helps in creating a natural non-stick coating to your pan’s surface as well as keep it in good cooking condition and prevent any form of rusting.
- Regularly Clean Your Grill Pan – It can be a little tedious but it is advisable to clean out your pan after cooking a batch of meat before you cook the next batch. Just like draining the pan regularly, this is to prevent the juices or fat from charring or burning in your grill pan. You do not want these burnt elements to ruin the taste and texture of what you are grilling. You can use a scraper to gently scrape out the blackened food particles before cooking the next set of food. Be careful not to scratch the surface.
Once you are done cooking or using the grill pan, discard any excess oil and then, use salt to sprinkle unto the surface. This will absorb any remaining oil. Then, with a paper towel, wipe the pan and use the salt as a light scrubbing agent. You can use a little dish soap to remove excess grease. Make sure that your grill pan is completely dry before you store it to prevent any rust spots from developing and ensuring that you can use your pan any time.
Now that you have a good idea about how you can maximize your grill pan’s cooking efficiency and function, you can start enjoying great meals off it regardless of the weather condition or the lack of grilling space.
It is important to note though that there is still a difference when food, especially meat, is cooked or grilled in a traditional grill and into direct open flame. The certain smokiness to the meat and that distinct charred texture of the spices and the meat developed over the charcoal barbecue pit will never be perfectly duplicated by a grill pan or a griddle pan. There is just a tinge of difference since the food is away from the flame and is cooked on a heated surface instead.
However, this does not negate the fact that you can still get a level of flavor and barbecue texture from a good grill pan. The crust still gets created on the surface and ingredients get seared effectively to enhance the flavor. The visual effect of grill marks also adds to that great outdoor barbecue effect you will most certainly be looking for.
Grill pans are indeed the next best thing when you want to enjoy barbecue or grilled food indoors. Just make sure that you invest in a good, sturdy one and follow the tips to ensure that it provides top results as you enjoy your meal in the comforts of your own home.
Hi, I’m Mhen and I’m a HUGE fan of Food and Cooking.
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