Griddle

Griddle

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A griddle is a piece of cooking equipment. In the industrial world usually it is a flat plate of metal (usually aluminium, stainless steel or cast iron). In the non-industrial world, and in traditional cultures, the griddle may be a stone or brick slab or tablet. It is used over an open flame, or on a stove, to cook many foods, including many flatbreads. It may be used with or without oil.

Foods often cooked on a griddle include pancakes, oatcakes, grilled cheese, unleavened breads (roti or chapati), dosa and Welsh cakes.

Traditional griddles

Traditional griddles include a stone or brick slab or tablet, and a shallow platter filled with sand. The former kind usually are heated to cooking temperature before the food is placed on them. The latter kind is heated after the food is placed.

In Latin America one traditional style of griddle is a budare. Made from stone or clay, it is used to cook a variety of flatbreads, such as tortilla, arepa and casabe. Modern versions for commercial use are metal.

Western modern construction

The metal usually is aluminium, stainless steel or cast iron. Metal griddles originally were a flat metal surface for frying suspended from hooks over a campfire or fireplace. Later versions were sometimes integrated into the tops of woodfired cookstoves as a removable iron plate and later as a separate plate that covered one or more burners on a gas or electric stove. These often have no handle. A traditional Welsh griddle is circular with a one-piece handle, typically cast iron, 1 cm (½ inch) in thickness. It is used to cook Welsh cakes, pikelets, and crepes. Nowadays, aluminium griddles come with nonstick coating or are anodised.

A griddle is a thick metal plate for cooking, known for maintaining even heat. This cooking tool is usually made of cast iron, steel (polished or cold-rolled), or aluminum, and may have a chrome finish. Typical griddle top (“plate”) thicknesses are 2.0-2.5 mm (1/8-1/4 inch) and thicker tops can be bought for use in cooking frozen foods. The thicker the griddle plate, the quicker the griddle can recover temperature. Griddles can be found in both floor and countertop models with varying footprints. Some models are even designed to be dropped directly over existing stove burners. Floor models often have stainless steel bodies, which make for easier cleaning.

Griddles are usually smooth-topped, but there are models that incorporate a grooved surface to drain away grease and give the food the appearance of having been seared on a grill. The grease drains into a grease trough that needs to be emptied regularly.

While one commercial griddle can be up to 2.5 m (8 feet) in length (similar to those popular in teppanyaki restaurants), it will usually have a separate temperature control (either manual or thermostatic) for every 30-60 cm (1 to 2 feet) of length. This can allow for cooking multiple foods at different temperatures on one griddle, and depending on the construction, a griddle can reach and hold temperatures of up to 400 °C (800 °F), though they are typically used at temperatures of 60-230 °C (150-450 °F). Large griddles can also accommodate more than one cook at a time, but accordingly, they will require a larger grease hood.

Portable electric griddles differ from portable electric "grills" only in that a griddle has a flat cooking surface and a grill has a ribbed surface (see the George Foreman Grill).

Uses

A griddle can be used to cook many foods—from vegetables to meat, and it can also be used to keep soups and sauces warm or to heat up plates. It works in most applications where a frying pan or sauté pan would be used.

Energy

Griddles can be powered through natural gas, propane, or electricity. More recently, steam-heated and infrared griddles have entered the commercial griddle market. Gas heat is often favored by professional cooks because of its reputation for even heating. Most gas models use 6-9 kW (20,000–30,000 BTU/h) per burner.

Griddles are not yet a part of Energy Star’s commercial food service listings. To save energy, many cooks turn the griddle temperature down during off-hours. Snap-action temperature controls can help curb energy costs by only pushing energy through the griddle when it’s necessary. Keeping the griddle as clean as possible also promotes better energy efficiency.

Safety

Some griddles come equipped with a flame-failure safety device, but like many pieces of kitchen equipment, griddles can cause a fire hazard if not properly maintained. Care needs to be taken to keep the griddle and the area around it free of grease buildup. Splatter guards at the edges of the griddle can help prevent grease from escaping to the surrounding workspace, and emptying the grease trough often helps prevent grease overflow.

Maintenance

Harsh soaps generally aren’t advised for cleaning griddles (especially those with cast iron plates). Often, scraping excess food from the griddle surface with a griddle scraper or wiping it with a cloth while it is still warm (60-80 °C; 150-175 °F) is enough to keep a griddle in good form from day to day. Further cleaning depends upon the griddle’s construction. Some types of griddles require cleaning with an abrasive brick or pad, while others (chrome finished, for example) can be cleaned with a special cleaning powder and water. Proper cleaning will ensure even heating, keep food from sticking to the griddle, and helps protect the plate from damage.

Besides cleaning, most griddles will need to be seasoned through regular oil rubdowns, and some cooks prefer to season their grills with a combination of oil and salt. This helps prevent food from sticking to the griddle surface.

It is also important to empty the griddles grease troughs (grease drawers) regularly to prevent them from overflowing. Except for solid-state thermostats, thermostat calibration should also be performed regularly (per the manufacturer’s instructions).

Troubleshooting

Some indicators of trouble spell the end of a griddle’s service life: rusted, cracked, and warped plates are generally impossible to fix. However, certain parts (gas valves, thermostats, safety pilots, etc.) can be replaced throughout the life of a griddle. Sometimes all that is required is a thermostat calibration. With regular upkeep, a commercial griddle has a life expectancy of up to 15 years.

Accessories

There are many variations on the standard griddle, and accessories abound. Examples include stainless steel cabinets, refrigerated bases, adjustable legs, belly bars, and even cutting boards, to name a few. Cleaning accessories can include such things as griddle scrapers and squeegees.

Sources

  • "A Flash in the Pan", Dan Bendall, 2008 Penton Media Inc.
  • "Daily Drill", Margaret Sharidan, Restaurants and Institutions
  • "Griddles and Charbroilers Turn Up the Heat", June 2006, Howard Riell, Fesmag.com
  • " Griddle Me This: The Restaurant Chameleon", March 2008, Tessa Somers
  • "Introduction: Griddles", December 2007, Fesmag.com
  • "Replacing Your Griddle: A Few Signs that It's Time", December 2007, Fesmag.com
  • "Web Exclusive Product Knowledge Guide: Griddles & Grills", Fesmag.com

See also

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