Grilled foods have bold, distinctive smoke and char flavors that come from being cooking at high heat directly over glowing coals or fire. Griddled foods are cooked at lower temperatures on a flat, heat-diffused surface. Griddles keep char flavor away from the food being cooked, but additional flavor can come from the oil or shortening used to prevent sticking.
Seasoning is the process of filling in the pores of a metal pan with layers of oil or shortening to help prevent food from sticking. Griddles made from cast iron, soapstone and stainless steel are often seasoned before use. Nonstick griddles are not seasoned before use. Whether a griddle is seasoned or not, most cooks use butter, oil or shortening to prevent sticking.
To Grill or Griddle
The average grilling temperature is 450 to 650 degrees Fahrenheit. Foods that can be cooked through to the center before the outside is blackened are suitable for the hot grill. This includes relatively thin and tender cuts of meat, poultry parts, fish steaks or thick filets, sliced or chopped vegetables and fruit, and flatbreads. Very delicate fish filets are best cooked on a griddle, as are omelets and scrambled eggs, thin-batter breads like pancakes, and bacon.
Successfully Grilling Meat
It's easy for grilled meats to become overdone on the outside before being properly cooked through in the center. To avoid this, warm the meat before grilling. Warm meat cooks faster than cold, so there is less time for the exterior to burn. Just wrap the meat tightly in plastic wrap and cover it with warm water until the interior temperature measures 100 degrees F, which takes 30 to 60 minutes. Grill the meat immediately to prevent bacteria from growing. Instead of warming the meat, flip the meat every minute so that neither side has time to absorb too much heat. This method sacrifices perfect grill marks, however, in favor of moistness and texture.
Grill Flavor With Griddles
It's possible to get that distinctive grilled flavor with foods best suited for a griddle simply by placing your griddle on the grill. The griddle will prevent charring, but the smoke and higher heat will add flavor to your dish. Natural surfaces such as cast iron or soapstone are the best types of griddle to place directly on a hot grill; nonstick coatings can come off under high heat.
- Food Oils and Fats; H. W. Lawson
- How to Grill; Steven Raichlen
- On Food and Cooking; Harold McGee
- Photo Credit Eising/Photodisc/Getty Images