As you may already know, I enjoy cooking. I have a rather large collection of cookbooks and one of my favorite pastimes is to sit on the couch and flip through the pages of these books in an effort to locate incredible looking and tasting dishes and desserts. From the beginning, I knew I wouldn’t be able to prepare every single recipe I came across. Sometimes, certain foods aren’t part of our diets or we don’t have the equipment to put something together properly. In general though, I think I do a good job at making appropriate ingredient substitutions and purchasing whatever kitchen equipment is necessary to put the dish together.
One area that has been getting on my nerves lately is grilled food. I have to tell you that almost every single recipe I see that has something that’s cooked over an outside grill looks delicious. I feel so left out because we don’t own a grill and I’m not sure I really want one. We had one in the past and didn’t use it too much. In general, I prefer to do my cooking inside because of the setup and cleanup that’s required of a grill. I suppose if there were six of us living in our house or if we had lots of parties, that would be a different story. I’d most likely purchase a grill because we’d use it a lot more. But with only two of us, I just don’t think that’s in the cards.
The thing is, I want to prepare the recipes with the grilled food in them. If for nothing else, to share on this website. After all, just because we don’t own a grill, that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t keep certain recipes off the site. I needed to think of an alternative that would give me the grill lines I was looking for, but that I could use in the kitchen. I think I may have found just what I was looking for.
Enter the Lodge ten inch cast iron grill pan. I picked this up from Amazon for just about $15. Can you believe that? If you were to lift this up, you’d feel the weight and wonder how in the heck they only cost $15. I’ve been using my 12 inch cast iron skillet for a few years now and feel like it’s part of my body. These Lodge pans are very high quality. I absolutely love that pan. Without it, I don’t know where I’d be.
Grill pans are exciting because they can give whoever is cooking those sought after grill lines in their foods. You can prepare all sorts of dishes, from meat to fish to vegetables. I’ve seen so many recipes call for a grill that I’m thrilled to add this to my kitchen arsenal.
I do love this pan, but I need to be sure not to fool myself. Cooking food in an indoor grill pan and outside on a real BBQ grill are two very different things. Let’s say I placed some salmon fillets in this grill pan after it warms up for a few minutes. Only parts of the bottom of the salmon would actually be touching the pan. The “valleys” in between the raised “grill” lines in the pan would never touch the fish. Therefore, those areas wouldn’t cook nearly as fast as the areas that are touching the cast iron. The way to get around this is to turn up the heat on the stove top. The only problem with that method is that by the time the “in between” areas cooked properly, the areas of the fish that are touching the pan would totally burn. On an outside grill, you get the lines and have the areas that aren’t touching the metal rack cook just as fast, giving you an even sear.
There are two good methods for obtaining an even cook, along with the grill marks from one of these type of pans. You can either use another flat style skillet to start things off and then transfer the ingredient into the grill pan or you can get your lines on the ingredient in the grill pan and then transfer the entire skillet into a hot oven to finish things off. While it does take an extra step to get exactly what you’re after, I think you can have the best of both worlds. I’m not even going to mention the unique flavors an outside grill offers because of the flame involved. That’s a totally different story. I’m limiting this post to mere looks.
As of this moment, what I just shared with you is theory. Over the next few months, I’ll play with this pan and see how it performs. I’ll report back here with the results to give you a better picture of what it can do. Until then, thanks for reading!