Sometimes rental restrictions or weather make outdoor grilling out of the question. While grilling outside may not be possible, a similar flavor and feel can be had by using a grill pan. Grill pans are typically composed of material that can stand up to high heat. These pans feature a ridged surface that mimics the grates found in a grill. Although the results are not entirely authentic, grill pans produce a product that is a reasonable facsimile to foods cooked on an outdoor grill.
How to Choose a Grill Pan
There are a number of grill pans currently on the market. The first choice that consumers need to make is cast-iron or non-stick. Cast-iron, though more expensive, is preferred for a couple reasons. First, non-stick coatings are not very durable and tend to flake off with frequent use. This can render the pan unusable. Additionally, cast-iron stands up better to high heat, and is more similar to the grill grates that are being replicated in this style of pan.
Grill pans also come in a variety of shapes. Smaller pans are an option for single people or couples that will only be cooking limited quantities of food. Larger pans, designed to cover two burners, are more useful for cooking for three or more people. Additionally, they enable the cook to grill multiple items at once. Some grill pans serve an additional purpose, with a griddle on the opposite face. This is particularly beneficial for those who prefer multi-use kitchen tools.
Prepare the Pan
Cast-iron needs to be properly treated in order to avoid sticking. It typically comes coated in a protective material that needs to be scrubbed off with hot water and a scouring pad. After this coating has been removed and the pan has been thoroughly dried, it is time for the seasoning process. A thin layer of oil must be applied to the pan, which is then heated over high heat for five to ten minutes. After this process has been repeated three to four times, the pan is ready to use.
Cooking on the Grill Pan
Cooking on a grill pan is similar to cooking on a grill. Coat the pan in a thin coating of oil before beginning to cook. The pan needs to be heated to a high temperature, just like a grill, in order to function properly. Trying to cook at a lower temperature will not take advantage of the searing benefits of a grill pan, and it may lead to food sticking. Nearly any recipe for an outdoor grill can be completed on a grill pan and, aside from lighting charcoal, the instructions should remain the same.
Cleaning The Grill Pan
A properly seasoned cast-iron pan is very easy to clean. Soap should not be used, as it can remove the oils integral to maintaining the seasoning in the cast iron. Clean the pan immediately with warm water and a sponge. Letting it sit can lead to rust, which is difficult to remove. Stubborn residue can be removed by scrubbing gently with kosher salt, which will act as an abrasive. After cleaning, the pan should be thoroughly towel dried and coated with a thin layer of oil to prevent rust.
There will always be situations where it is nearly impossible to use an outdoor grill. However, that does not have to mean missing out on favorite foods. A grill pan is a reasonable way to produce the effects of outdoor barbecue without actual use of a grill.