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Looking into Cast Iron Double Burner Grill, Few Questions

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
Hey guys,

As with the question I had answered when signing up for these forums, I really don't know how to cook. I am interested by it, and occasionally try, and repeatedly fail... but am still interested!

I live in an apartment complex with a small kitchen. We do not have a BBQ Grill, and presently only use a broiling pan to make hamburgers as well as steaks. I'm not a huge fan of this, and am looking for alternatives. I have been looking at one of those double sided grill / griddle pans that sit over top of 2 burners.

I have a few questions regarding these:

1) How much smoke do they generate while cooking? Is it something to be concerned with cooking a steak indoors with it?
2) How easy is the maintenance on one of these?
3) Is there any preparation or anything I should know before purchasing one of these? Budget options are always best as my financial situation is not great.
4) What is the quality of the food of the things you grill with it? We have an electric griddle, so I don't know how often it would be used for the griddle portion.
5) When cooking with it, do you leave both burners on high?

I think that's it for now, thank you very much!
post #2 of 6
1. The same as for any pan on the same heat cooking the same food. For cooking meat at high temperatures, you'll need a decent hood -- but nothing special.

2. Very. Treat it like any cast iron. Season it well before seasoning. Be very careful how you wash it and keep it well seasoned.

3. Buy a good one. Don't cheap out. Lodge is an excellent choice and widely available.

4. Better than your electric non-stick griddle if (a) you can learn to control the heat, and (b) if your griddle is properly clean and seasoned. Not always possible if you use the grill a lot.

5. Usually not. You want the grill hot enough to sear efficiently, but not incredibly hot. One of the nice attributes of cast iron is that it holds heat well. That means that the temperature will not drop precipitously when the food is added, which means you won't need as a high a flame to maintain heat as you would with an aluminum grill. A big part of cooking is controlling temperatures. Cook according to normal principles -- for instance, the general rule is, the thicker the meat, the more moderate the temperature.

post #3 of 6
Thread Starter 
I really don't think I have a decent hood. I have one of those combined things that I think all it does is filter... it doesn't exhaust air anywhere being that I'm in an apartment.

Also, what exactly do you have to do to season it?

I believe I understand that you would want lower heat for thicker meat (it rhymes!), so you don't burn the outside and have an uncooked inside, right? Is there a way of being able to tell how hot the grill is, and how hot you want it to be?
post #4 of 6
What kind of stove do you have? Some stoves don't work well with the cast iron grills. The glass cooktop type for example as the grills usually have a lip on the back side, you don't get good contact with the heating elements. Some large coil or other electric styles might have similar problems, but there are grills large enough to work in spite of this.

They work quite well with gas.
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
post #5 of 6
Thread Starter 
Fortunately we do have a gas stove, so that isn't a concern. I am still concerned about the smoke output, and of course it would be trial and error with meats and temperature control, but for me it will be especially tough knowing what setting to have both burners, and also when the grill is ready to begin cooking.

Also, is splatter a problem from food?
post #6 of 6
1. Smoke output no different than cooking in any other pan. If you use a LOT of heat, or overcook by a fair bit, yes it's going to smoke like nuts. If you cook at the same temperatures you'd use any other pan, it won't smoke any differently. In fact, it's not different. It's just a low sided pan with ribs to raise the meat above the fat which renders from it. Now the concept of fat dripping between the grids sounds like smoke -- but stop and think about it. It's no different than fat that renders from meat in a pan -- everything else being equal it's going to smoke or not smoke like a pan.

If you have a hood above your stove, by all means use it. That having been said, you want to PAY ATTENTION. When you have meat on the grill -- no walk away, no phone. If the doorbell rings, bring your guest or armed intruder into the kitchen with you. You've got to be there.

2. Gas makes it very even to balance the heat.

(a) The magic words for temp control to sear (or saute, for that matter) on almost every stove are, "medium-high." If you don't have a mark on your the stove-front dials, set the dial for the front burner exactly between medium and high, then eyeball the flame on the back burner so it exactly matches the front burner.

(b) If, by experience you find that the flame settings are too hot or too cold, simply adjust. If the exterior of a 3/4" steak is perfect, while the interior is undercooked, your flames are too high. If the exterior is perfect, while the interior overcooks, your flames are too low. If exterior is perfect, and interior is a perfect medium-rare, the flames are exactly right.

(c) To check to see if the grill is appropriately preheated (and you MUST preheat), put a few drips of vegetable oil in the corner. If you can see the air shimmering above it, the grill-pan is hot enough to sear. If not, give it a minute or two. If the oil smokes, the grill is probably too hot. Turn the heat down to very low for a couple of minutes (as in exactly two), put the meat on the grill, then turn the heat back up.

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