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Best Christmas Present Ever: Cast Iron Grill/Griddle

2010 February 25
by Gayle

Cast iron is always the kitchen gift that keeps on giving. Easy to clean, it only gets better as year after year of patina builds up. But in December, The Kitchenette was gifted with the best Christmas present ever, a cast iron Holy Grail: the compact cast iron grill/griddle combo.

It was a present from my brother, heretofore known as Kitchenette Bro (K.Bro?),  who actually has his own cast iron grill/griddle but isn’t as thrilled with his as I am. When he bought his, he had all the space in the world (okay, not that much, but more than what I’m workin’ with), so he scored the two-burner version.

Learn from this mistake, Dear Readers. Size does matter. Sometimes.

“If I could do it over, I’d get the one-burner instead of the two-burner,” Kitchenette Bro said, “from a storage standpoint and cooking standpoint.” Since most of his cooking is being done for one or two people, taking up two entire burners for whatever protein he’s grilling greatly reduces the amount of stove-top real estate available for side dishes, he says. Plus, although it is cast iron with all the amazing even-heating, long-lasting and non-sticking capabilities therein,”the center of the two-burner doesn’t get as hot as what is directly over your heating element, so if you are cooking for a crowd, things don’t finish at the same time,” K.Bro said.

Even with these downsides, his is in pretty much constant use, he said.
It’s not often that I encourage the purchase of more kitchen implements — usually I’m suggesting you get rid of stuff. But in this case, oh yes, you need one of the one-burner babies. The perfect size for cooking for two, and oh, so versatile.
Grill on one side, giving fat a way to drain off and providing those beautiful grill marks you miss in the dead of winter/if you don’t have a backyard/if you have a backyard but don’t have a grill.
Griddle on the other, doing all the things a frying pan can do and more. Diner-style hash browns, cheese steak for two, perfect pancakes — this is where the flat-top magic happens.
No other piece of cookware is going to give you these kinds of options on the stove and still take up this little space. Ours hangs neatly on the peg board with the other pots and pans. But it could just as easily live with the sheet pans or under a stack of casserole dishes. Due to frequent use, K.Bro mostly keeps his two-burner on the stove top, if you do end up with a two-burner. And actually, ours often spends a couple days a week parked on the cook-top as well. And, as an added bonus, even high-quality cast iron comes c-h-e-e-p (as in, this Lodge Cast Iron 10.5″ square reversible griddle is under $40).
A word of caution to those who, like The Kitchenette, do not enjoy proper ventilation while cooking: the grill can kick up a fair amount of smoke. Open a window or or pull the batteries out of the smoke detector (temporarily!). The grill can also be a challenge to clean at first, depending on what you’re making. Using an old toothbrush between the ridges works for me. And it’s worth a little extra elbow grease to be the Indoor Bobby Flay, the Grill Master Operator of my own private Waffle House, scattering, smothering and covering until… yeah, you get the picture…
6 Responses leave one →
  1. Barbara permalink
    February 25, 2010

    Great post about a great kitchen tool! You are right — it is a piece of cookware no kitchen should be without. I agree with K.Bro as I, too, have a Lodge cast iron two-burner griddle/grill. The middle is pretty much useless, so you might as well just get the one-burner model! However, I do have one nice advantage on my newly purchased range — a long middle burner with an interchangeable grate and flat-top griddle combo. Even though the griddle isn’t actually cast iron, it works well and is oh, so convenient.

  2. February 25, 2010

    I’ve got the double-burner Lodge griddle and I actually use that middle section to keep my hashbrowns warm while I’m doing eggs on the one burner and low-and-slow-cooking halfsmokes on the other so the skins don’t burn. Don’t forget to re-season with rich, nutritious bacon fat to keep it at its nostick best.

  3. Linda permalink
    February 26, 2010

    OK you’ve sold me on this thing! It will be the perfect thing for cooking the frozen sirloin patties that hubby loves, but without all the grease that collects in the skillet we now use. When hubby and I first got together, he had a HUGE 14″ cast iron skillet that he used to make the best hash brown potatoes I ever had. (He called it “potato s#(%”…) But I could hardly lift the thing… I think this griddle will be much more manageable… Thanks so much for the great tip!

  4. Linda permalink
    February 26, 2010

    Oops forgot to ask – will this thing scratch a smooth-top stove?

  5. Boom Boom (Gramma) permalink
    February 27, 2010

    I made your tuna sandwich, Great.I spilled too much curry but I toned it down with mayo, and it was fine. Couldn’t find my golden raisins, but remembered they were in a mason jar in the fridge in Vodka. A few tablespoons a day is supposed to relieve arthritis pain. Tried it, didn’t like the flavor and forgot about them. They are perfectly preserved in the VoYou know I have a grill. The individual one is YEARS old, however, about a year ago, I bought A larger one. As KBRO sez, it doesn’t cook evenly and the house is full of smoke, even with the fan on and all the windows open. The smoke and cooking odors collect in the second floor rooms. I use the grill for pancakes and eggs. I use my cast iron skillets a lot, expecially for grilled cheese sandwiches. It cleans up nicely by pouring salt in the pan and rubbing with a paper towel. That way you retain your patina.

    Read your blog every day. Great Stuff!!

  6. March 3, 2010

    Love the grill top for our stove. The important thing to start talking about though is: Who is Monkeyrotica? Brilliant stuff on that site. Just brilliant!

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