Grilling is as delicious as healthy. This form of cooking is also relatively easy to master, even for the clumsiest ones. Really? If it’s so easy, why at home grilled meat gets tough and dry, fish breaks into pieces and vegetables get too raw or burned? Well, even the simplest techniques have their own small tricks and secrets. Don’t worry, they are super easy. To master this form of cooking you will only need good fresh ingredients, an appropriate pan, follow our next advices and some practice.
Choose the appropriate griddle pan
Although you could grill and griddle in a fry pan, the most recommendable is to use a grill pan or a flat griddle pan. Taste results are practically the same, but grill pans and griddle pans surface is wider, which allows cooking big ingredients –such as steaks- or various ingredients at the same time.
One of the main doubts about griddle pans is about surface. Is grill surface better than flat surface? The main difference between them is grill surface marks food with those beautiful lines we love because they remind us barbecue days. It also emits less steam and, as it separates food cooking juices from the ingredient itself, it ensures food is grilled, not stewed or poached. But on the other hand, grill pans are more difficult to clean and a little bit less versatile, as certain delicate food, such as white fish, can easily be broken. The choice is yours. But if you can have only one, we would recommend you a flat griddle pan.
Manufacturing material is also very important. Cast aluminium and cast iron are the materials with best heat retention and distribution. Consequently, they are the most recommendable ones to grill and griddle. Stainless steel and other materials are good for other cooking techniques, but we don’t recommend them to grill and griddle. Anyway, we prefer cast aluminium than cast iron. It is lighter, more versatile and easier to use and maintain than cast iron. And as it comes with non-stick coating, it will allow you to cook with less oil avoiding food from sticking on cooking surface. Cast aluminium grills and griddles are also easier to clean, both by hand and in the dishwasher, so as you will never want to stop cooking with them.
And don’t forget small details, such as the possibility to choose griddle pans with removable handles or griddle pans with cold touch side handles. Some have integrated side handles and some other allow you to remove side handles every time you want.
You must use top quality fresh ingredients
Grilled food gets cooked very fast. It’s a very healthy way of cooking which practically doesn’t require adding oil. It’s a simple non-complicated cooking technique that allows each ingredient to keep all its natural flavour and nutritional properties. Main ingredient taste stands out without distractions. For this reason using high quality fresh food it’s very important. They also free less liquids during the cooking process, which makes easier to grill them.
Grilling taste results are similar to barbercue but food never touch flames. Ingredients won’t have that unmistakable smoked taste. But if you cook them well, they will get gold coloured, crunchy, tasty and very appetizing.
Control temperature and the exact cooking time of each ingredient
Get perfect grilling results requires knowing the cooking temperature and cooking time of each ingredient. And this is the main secret to master this form of cooking. We must be able to evaporate liquid fast, but not as fast to get food dry and burned. Unfortunately, there are no magic mathematic formulas. Meat, fish and vegetables cooking times and temperatures are different and food thickness is another variable we must take into consideration.
Anyway, no matter what you’re grilling, you must always heat up your griddle pan gradually. Start heating up your griddle at medium temperature and increase intensity progressively until pan reaches the desired temperature. This way pan heats up evenly, thus cooking food uniformly.
Salt and oil are the only ingredients you need to grill
Oil must be uniformly spread on each ingredient: don’t poor it in the griddle. The best option is using a kitchen brush to use the minimum quantity as possible. There are two reasons to do this. First one is when we poor oil on a pan, we tend to be too much generous, and we are grilling, not frying. Second one is griddle must be very hot. If we heat it up with oil, it will burn before start cooking, which is not only bad for flavour but also for our health.
The most important thing you should know about salt is you must salt ingredients at the very last moment. No matter if you salt them once you have already finished grilling it, you are turning it upside down or just about to start cooking.
Are you tired of basic flavours? If you are bored and looking for new experiences, you can use herbs and spices. You can even serve your recipes together with different sauces or vinaigrettes. There are unlimited great combinations and no extra calories will be added.
How to get tender and juicy results even when cooking the most difficult ingredients
If cuts are very thick or require long cooking time, they can easily get burned outside and raw or dry inside. There are two good techniques that can help you:
Certain vegetables, such are asparagus and carrots, get more tender and juicy if you steam cook them first shortly. As grilling is a very aggressive form of cooking, this way we will only need to mark them on both sides. We will get grill flavour and texture. This technique is also valid and useful to grill the most delicate fish, which can easily break during grilling process.
Finally, this is our recommendation to grill meat with long cooking times as chicken, lamb or pork. Grill them first at high temperature so seal them and them finish cooking at medium temperature to cook the inside. Are you a steak lover? This is our guide to grill the perfect steak.
Other grilling tricks
Start cooking at room temperature. Take the ingredients out of the fridge with plenty of time. This makes easier to grill them just right: tender, juicy and tasty.
Don’t poke them. You will only make them lose liquids too fast and too soon. Consequently, food will get dry or stewed instead of grilled.
Don’t mess food around. Turn it upside down only once.
Keep your griddle pan clean. Non-stick cast aluminium griddle pans are easier to clean and maintain. You won’t feel lazy to use them. You can clean them in the dishwasher, of course. But you only need to wait until they cool down to clean them with hot water, mild detergent and a soft sponge.