Grill pans are an excellent replacement for outdoor grills and irreplaceable pieces of cookware for anyone living in apartments. When you ask yourself how to use a cast iron grill pan, you should keep in mind that preparing food in this particular city cook item is quite different than using regular fry pans.
You can find two sizes of these inexpensive pans. There are round or square models with deep ridges on the bottom. They are about 2 inches (5 cm) deep with 10 inches (25.5 cm) in diameter. The second version is an 18 by 9 inch (approximately 46 x 23 cm) large pan with a flat griddle surface on one side and a ridged part on the other. Let’s grill!
Why Do You Need a Cast Iron Grill Pan?
Even though you are one of these homeowners without a backyard, you can still make a barbeque for your family and friends. There are a few essential reasons why to choose this cookware. Let’s see.
Every time you prepare meat on your cast iron cookware, you will add pure natural iron minerals into your food. That is an excellent addition for people who need iron supplements. However, the level of its natural absorption will depend on the meal acidity and the preparation time.
Use your grill pan to prepare:
- Steaks, hamburgers, skewers, pork, sausages, hot dogs, and chicken meat
- Pancakes, bacon, and eggs
- Carrots, zucchini, onions, potatoes, and peppers
- seafood and cheese
Believe it or not, most meals will be tastier when prepared in the grill pan than in the oven or other skillets. [Recommended to read: 37 Best Cast Iron Pan Recipes]
It is no coincidence that the raw cast iron grill skillet is well-known as a King of Cookware. Despite new technological advances and top-notch pans you can find on the market these days, this skillet is much durable and quality than coated models. Plus, you can use it on high heat. To understand more about the durability and other pros and cons of cast iron cookware, refer to this article on the 10 Advantages And Disadvantages Of Cast Iron Skillet.
There are two main categories of this cookware:
- Cast iron pan made of one piece of molded iron
- Non-stick pan with an aluminum base
Keep in mind that there are easy to clean enameled cast iron pans and models that require seasoning after every use.
Excellent heat retention
Cast iron grill pan can sustain extremely high temperatures, which makes it ideal cookware for grilling and baking. That means you can prepare chicken and steak meat and keep them warm until serving thanks to the high heat retention your grill skillet has.
You can also use it to make traditional American cakes, such as Apple pie and Molten skillet brownie.
The grill pan is entirely oven-safe, so you can finish cooking your food the way you do by closing the hood of a grill. However, this skillet takes a while to heat up. Therefore, you should preheat your pan in the oven before arranging food to get the best result.
This pan is versatile, and you can use it on almost all heat sources, including electric, gas, ceramic, induction, halogen, and even campfire. Since it is exceptionally tough, you can use it in your oven on high heat, as well.
Cast iron grill pans have higher ridges than non-stick models. The reason is in their construction. The non-stick pan is made of a single aluminum sheet, and it would deform or tear if the ridges were too high.
The cast-iron model is made of a single piece to stand high temperatures, so it is necessary to feature at least 0.2 inches (5 mm) high ridges.
Compared to other grill pans, models made of cast iron are inexpensive. Take advantage of that fact, purchase one for about $30, and start grilling.
If you buy a non-stick pan, you won’t have many problems cleaning it. It will be enough to wipe it down with a paper towel. You can also scrub the leftovers with a paste made of salt and water when needed.
On the other hand, you need to wash your cast iron grill pan thoroughly. Then, rinse it in soapy water, dry it carefully to avoid rust, and oil it after every use. Take care not to leave it to soak in the sink for long.
Keep in mind that you should avoid subjecting this cookware to sudden temperature changes, as it could potentially cause the cast iron to crack. Also, be careful not to scratch the surface to prevent food from sticking in the future.
How to Use a Grill Pan
Your cast iron grill pan is excellent cookware for almost anything you plan to cook. The technique of preparing the food is not complicated. Define the thickness of your steak and thinly slice your veggies and begin the procedure. However, you need to adhere to some basic recommendations.
1. Prepare the pan
Before you start using your new grill pan for preparing a meal, you should wash, rinse, and dry it thoroughly. It is better to clean it before every use to get rid of dust.
Preheat it for five minutes on medium-high heat for at least five minutes before placing the food on it. That way, you will prevent the appearance of hot spots that may partially overcook the meat without affecting others. Plus, this is the best option to get a deep-savory flavor of the food.
2. Cut food into thin slices
Always slice your food into thin slices to prevent burning the surface while the middle stays raw. That way, you will get desired char marks without a bitter crust that forms as you try to roast the inside of the meat appropriately.
3. Pour the oil
Always brush your food before placing it on the pan instead of greasing its bottom surface. That way, your meal won’t stick, and the oil won’t burn. Take care to choose the oil with a high smoking point, like peanut oil, but avoid using olive oil.
4. Place the food on the pan
Gently place your food on the pan with tongs to avoid injuries. When you prepare steaks or large pieces of chicken, you should always put them at a distance of at least 0.5 inches (1.25 cm). On average, you need to wait about two minutes to prepare a thin steak before turning it.
5. Add smoky seasoning
If you like the taste of food coming from an outdoor grill, you can add some spices to reach the desired flavor. The best choice is to use smoked salt and paprika.
Additionally, add savory ingredients, such as hoisin sauce, fish sauce, soy sauce, or anchovy salt. That way, you can reach that complex bitter, which you get by using a real grill.
6. Cover the pan
You can hardly purchase a cast iron grill pan with a lid, so you should find a way to improve the food taste by using some other cover.
Once your food looks almost prepared, place a lid over it, and let it stay for a while. It is crucial for cooking sausages, thicker steaks, and melting cheese on hamburgers.
Covering will increase the speed of the process of preparation and enhance the smoky flavor. However, you won’t go wrong if you avoid this step if you prefer that way.
7. Don’t move the food too soon
Never break the primary rule – if you need to tug at your food, let it stay in the grill. It is obviously not ready to be turned. Once the meat or veggies effortlessly release, you will know that the moment for turning has come.
On average, you should wait at least a minute or two before trying to move food. Always turn it halfway with tongs to check if it is time.
That way, you will get desirable marks that add character to the grilled meat and veggies. Never rotate your food, or you will get diamond-shaped grill marks instead of lines.
8. Flip the food
The right time to flip your meat and vegetables will depend on the type of food you prepare. It is crucial to determine the moment that makes a difference between a perfect bite and burnt leftovers. Let’s see.
|The food type||Time|
|1 inch (2.5 cm) thick chicken meat||5 to 10 minutes|
|Pork||5 to 7 minutes|
|1 inch (2.5 cm) thick steak||3 to 5 minutes|
|Vegetables||3 to 4 minutes|
|Shrimp||2 to 3 minutes|
If you notice your food start burning, turn it right away or lower the heat down.
9. Cooking temperature
When you cook meat, you should take care of the temperature. It is crucial to allow enough heat to reach inside it, which will make your meal safe to eat.
The ideal temperatures for a few most common meals:
Poultry – You should grill it on 165 F (74 C)
Ground meat – You should grill it on 160 F (71 C)
Beef, lamb, pork, and veal – It is necessary to grill it on 145 F (63 C)
Shellfish – You should grill it on 145 F (63 C)
Cast iron grill pan is the perfect cookware for preparing steaks, lamb chops, fish steaks, shellfish, vegetables, and peaches. On the other side, never use this dish for grilling wine-braised meats, delicate fish, omelets, tomato sauce, and desserts. Bon Appetit!
Michael Johnson is the founder of The Pan Handler, Inspired by his blacksmith grandfather’s legacy has a deep appreciation for hand-crafted pots and pans, he provides invaluable guides, reviews, and recipes to enhance your culinary journey.