Why every home chef needs an indoor grill pan
If you watch a lot of cooking competition shows like Chopped, MasterChef or Top Chef, you've probably seen some of these in action: indoor-grill pans. Indoor grills are typically heavy, cast-iron pans that sit on top of your stove burners (one or more, depending on their size) and allow you to get the effect and flavor of outdoor grilling inside your kitchen.
But do they work? In my opinion, absolutely! In fact, since I bought an indoor grill pan a year ago (the Emeril by All-Clad model shown here to the right), I haven't use my outside grill once! I've really fallen in love with grilling indoors and enjoy that I can get that flavor year round, without having to keep an eye on an outdoor BBQ while trying to prepare other parts of a meal indoors.
An grill is so simple to use, too. Mine fits over two burners on my gas stove. You'll want to pre-heat the grill for a good 10-15 minutes before starting to cook, so that all areas of the pan are heated - although I still find there are "hot spots" right above the burners, so keep that in mind when you arrange items on the grill. Brush the surface of the grill lightly with oil before using, and you'll be all set to go! One word of caution, however, is to be sure you've got your vent going to disperse/blow out any smoke that rises from the pan. I usually like to open a kitchen window or two as well, especially when grilling steaks and pork chops.
The cool thing about this particular grill pan is that it also does double-duty as a griddle. Turn it over and you can make pancakes, scrambled eggs, or maybe even a stove-top pizza! There are lots of different ways to use this pan - just take a look at some of my kitchen creations photographed below:
As much as I love my grill pan, there are a few things to know about using one before you buy.
- Clean it quickly after use. You don't want to leave sticky food grease on this pan for a few hours, let alone overnight. Otherwise it can be a real nuisance to try to clean. What I usually do is pour some water over the surface as soon as I'm done using it (the raised sides keep it contained). Then I wash it down in the sink after I'm done eating, and reheat it on the stove to dry off the moisture before storage.
- You need to learn your pan's hot spots. Even with an extended warm-up time, you'll find certain areas of the pan are hotter than others. But you can use that to your advantage; for instance, placing chops or steaks over high-heat areas, and grilling vegetables slowly over lower-heat areas.
- Finding a good storage spot can be difficult. These pans are big - and heavy! So if you've got limited space in your kitchen it might be hard to find a place to store it when not in use. I tend to stick mine in the oven (it is oven-safe to 600 F.)
You might also want to check out some of these related accessories to use with your grill pan:
These scrapers will make it a lot easier - and faster - to clean up your grill pan after use. Get in all of those hard-to-scrub areas!
This heavy, cast-iron press will make it easier to cook bacon on the griddle side of the pan, without it curling up. You can also use it on steaks and other cuts of meats that you want to make sure are staying in full contact with the grill or griddle.
Do you have an indoor grill pan?
© 2013 Nicole Pellegrini