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Cast Iron Cooking - Griddles

 
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JeremyP
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 21, 2011 4:59 pm    Post subject: Cast Iron Cooking - Griddles Reply with quote

I've noticed that there are quite a few cast iron Cookwares in the stores lately and online. for about 20 to 40 bucks you can pick up a cast iron griddle that will go over your cook range or right on top of you gas grill.

From, and engineers point of view, (even though I design Antennas for a living) cooking is one of my favorite hobbies) cast Iron/Griddle cooking has come major flavor advantages. Ever wonder how they cook burgers at your favorite dinner/fast food joint. Its probably on a griddle. Same with pancakes/ French toast, possibly bacon. Now most of us probably can't afford a multi-thousand dollar stainless griddle like they do in a restaurant, but we can get similar results with cast iron.

First off, the most important thing is to buy one that is thick enough, at least 1/2 inch thick or so (at the thinnest point, most have a flat side and a ridged side, use the flat side most most things except steaks), The second one I bought was barely 1/4 thick in places and it didn't cook evenly at all (on a stove/range top).

First of all, the thing to know about cast iron grilling (griddeling) is that you have more "heatpacity" to work with. By this I mean the giddle might only be at 350 deg F, but when you put your most burger on there its going to stay at 325 or so even with several burgers on the giddle.

Well you might say, cast iron? is it going to stick? well yes it can, if the temperature is too low.

Imagine a typical aluminum skillet, you preheat it and then put your "wet" meat or burger on there, as soon as you do that the pan cools off to about 220 F around the meat, as the water in the meat turns to steam (basic laws of therodynamics). This is just not accepable, it wont create the flavor and it will stick, unless you have a not still pan

If you have enough heat for long enough, the meat will "release" once the fat in the meat starts to melt. Again the trick is heat, for long enough. So pre-heat the griddle until a few drops of water bead up a whirl around like mercury.

There are some some accessories you will want to have, a iron press thingy: this is basically a flat cast iron press with a handle. I found one a Amazon, you might try to find an antique cast iron clothes iron. the idea here is that you have something that you can heat up on the griddle and then place it on the burger or meat that you are cooking, this heat keeps the meat flat, squezes some if the juices out (creating flavor) and speeds the cooking time. It will help enhance the flavor and give you more control over the cooking process.

The next item you will want is a cover, this can be an all metal pan lid or something that won't burn. Basically this is just another enhancment to help speed up certain items, such as melting cheese, or making a grilled chesse sandwich, grilling vegetables etc.

The Fat,

The fat is the most important aspect, and it doesn't have to be unhealthy as long at you don't burn stuff.

For burger you really dont need any fat as there will be plenty once you cook the first burger or two. Bacon doesn't either. Pancakes will require a light application of cooking oil. Don't use magarine, and only clarifed butter.

I can highly recommend coconut oil, or high heat olive oil, if you really need it. Don't use high poly-unsaturated oils they are worse for you when cooking around high heat. The secret for flavor is of course bacon fat, or beef fat. (really it is). McDonalds used to fry their french fries in beef fat, until they switched to the cheaper, heat stopping transfat loaded partially hydrogenated soybean crap.

Keep in mind cast iron griddle cooking requires more start up time and more energy to get going, so its not efficient for onesy, twosy things, but when cooking for a large family or a partly it is a drooling mouth watering
experience, that can't be beat.

Just practice a few times, get to "know" your griddle an how much heat it requires to keep it going "under a heavy cooking load" and you be all set to create, meal it you mouth diner experience.

Things that work well on the griddle.

Burgers
Bacon
Pancakes (add oil to the batter)
French toast
Grilled sandwitches (such as paninis)
Grilleed vegetables (onions & mushrooms for example), peppers
Anything sauted

I had mixed results with chicken breasts.

Things that dont work well on cast iron
Scambled eggs.
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francisscott22



Joined: 19 Dec 2011
Posts: 1
Location: wisconsin

PostPosted: Tue Dec 20, 2011 11:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Burgers are perfect in griddles. One just has to make sure that they are always clean and free from rust or else it will really reflect on the burgers. Smile
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 17, 2014 1:19 pm    Post subject: Scrambled eggs on cast iron Reply with quote

We had a tough time at first with scrambling eggs on cast iron because they would stick to the pan like something aweful, but now they turn out perfect every time. The secret is high heat. We heat the pan medium high until it starts to smoke a bit. Then we throw some olive oil in there, at which it will continue to smoke. Next poor in your scrambled eggs and as soon as they begin to bubble up (almost immediately), begin pushing them around the pan and flipping them over. Follow this method and you'll get perfect scrambled eggs every time.

Philip
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Jim Cooley



Joined: 09 Oct 2008
Posts: 335
Location: Seattle

PostPosted: Mon Feb 17, 2014 8:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I might try that trick with my next batch of scambled eggs. Normally I use teflon for eggs, but I have a hunch you are right.
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Dilbert



Joined: 19 Oct 2007
Posts: 1018
Location: central PA

PostPosted: Mon Feb 17, 2014 8:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have an old Griswald that I can fry & one-handedly flip eggs over easy.

it's 'well seasoned' (g)
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Jim Cooley



Joined: 09 Oct 2008
Posts: 335
Location: Seattle

PostPosted: Tue Feb 18, 2014 12:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Your arms must be stronger than mine, Dilbert. I doubt I could flip even my 8" 'well-seasoned' Griswold with one hand.


But our Guest's comment concerned how to scramble eggs in a cast iron pan. I think I've been doing it wrong my whole life. Must try higher heat as he recommended.
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Dilbert



Joined: 19 Oct 2007
Posts: 1018
Location: central PA

PostPosted: Tue Feb 18, 2014 5:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

>>heat

methinks there's "too much" and "too little" - gotta be "just right"

I do agree too cold and the whites tend to stick. done that, I get a thin brown egg stuck-on-layer. my mom had a trick - if the eggs were sticking, she would add a little (cold) water to the pan - tablespoon or so - and swirl that around. the water seems to "dissolve" the sticking bits.

obviously too hot and the edges burn before the egg is cooked to one's desired state.

the sticking problem is greatly reduced if you do bacon first (g) - otherwise I just run the 'end' of a stick of butter around the pan to provide a bit of fat in the pan.

>>flipping - weighed the Griswald - 3 lbs 5 oz. flips good....
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Jim Cooley



Joined: 09 Oct 2008
Posts: 335
Location: Seattle

PostPosted: Tue Feb 18, 2014 11:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

4 lbs 7.8 ounces 10" WagnerWare

Is it Griswald, or Griswold?

I almost always use a TBS of water when cooking eggs. Start on med-hi, add dab of butter when hot, add 2 eggs. Once eggs "set" (15 seconds?) add a little water around edges/circumference, cover and reduce heat to lo/very-low. 10-12 minutes (time enough for a shower) and they are done. Sunny-side up and medium-well. No burnt or crispy edges (yuck!).

I do that in a small Farberware pan, stainless steel, not my cast iron.
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Dilbert



Joined: 19 Oct 2007
Posts: 1018
Location: central PA

PostPosted: Wed Feb 19, 2014 1:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

...wold

I can never keep it straight.
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Jack Schmidling



Joined: 22 Jun 2014
Posts: 4
Location: United States

PostPosted: Mon Jun 23, 2014 5:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My wife made pancakes every Sunday for years on a rather thin aluminum griddle and had no problem frying six pancakes evenly with no heat distribution problems.

I insisted on fixing what wasn't broken and bought a big heavy cast iron one as described in this thread and it does not work half as well. The location of the burners is obvious and the pancakes must now be moved around a lot to get them all done at the same time.

So much for engineers.

Jack
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Jim Cooley



Joined: 09 Oct 2008
Posts: 335
Location: Seattle

PostPosted: Fri Nov 14, 2014 8:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jack,

You may want to try some of the tips recommended here

My only concern is the use of vegetable oil for seasoning. I find it gets sticky, so use bacon grease instead.
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