The Best Grill Pan has tall ridges, really thats all that it needs. While other factors are important like handle, construction and design, the main point of a grill pan is to make grill marks. There are various factors that goes into the manufacturing of grill pan. Such as whether it is stamped or casted. These things will play into how good or bad it is. But when you get down to it, what you really want is a grill mark. Something that you cant do if its raining or snowing outside. This article will list some of the best grill pan on the market and why you should avoid others.
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Best Grill Pan Categories
This section will list the Best Grill Pan by different metal.
Cast Iron (Staub)
Staub has the tallest ridge out of all the grill pan that I tested. If you want a sharp defined grill mark, they are the way to go. They also come with a panini press that is perfect for making sandwiches. However, they are very expensive. Lodge makes a great alternative if you want a cost effective choice. The ridge is not as prominent though.
Tri Ply (Tramontina )
Tramontina makes a good tri ply choice. Its aluminum core ensure that it conducts heat evenly. However, the grill mark are low and it can steam instead of grill. If you are ok with that, then its a great choice. The lower grill ridge also lets you clean it a traditional sponge.
OXO makes a good nonstick grill pan. It suffers the same issue as the tri ply though. The low ridges give it subpar grill mark. However, it is light and the coating makes it easy to clean. They are a great choice for someone who wants a nonstick pan.
Why Use a Grill Pan?
The main reason to use a grill pan is to get the famous grill mark. It is a good indoor alternative to the outdoor grill. Aside from that, it is quite limited in its versatility. Cooking in it takes quite a bit of time as well. Since there is so little contact point with the actual food, what you can efficiently cook is quite limited. If you cooking things like Chicken thigh, you will almost have to finish it in the oven to cook it through.
However, thinner and lighter food like vegetables are the perfect things to cook. Since cooking time is a lot less, you can effectively grill food on the table. This is perfect for entertaining guest or family. Some of these grill pan also have bright colorful color that is great for the kitchen table.
On a side note, some might claim that the smoke from the grill pan will develop flavor. I notice little to no difference between food that is grilled and regularly fried. But then again, that is just me.
Best Grill Pan Design
This section will discuss the design and characteristic of what makes the Best Grill Pan. We will go over handle, shape and general performance.
Handle really is not that important in a grill pan. For the most part, the pan will stay stationary. You will rarely have to maneuver and toss food. The only thing you really need is something that helps you transport. I suppose you can argue that shorter handle might be better. This gives you more room when you stick it in the oven.
There are a few different grill pan on the market. Square, rectangular, and round. The rectangular one is great if you plan on using both burner. In this situation you need to make sure that it is long enough to reach both burner. If not, there will be a lot of cold spots.
The square one is the most common type of grill pan and generally they work well. They have ridges that holds in fat and drippings, reducing the overall mess.
The round one are the least common one but actually the best for overall heat distribution. Since most of our burner is round, it can absorb heat the best. Unfortunately, its too uncommon and those that do offer are designed quite poorly.
There are quite a few different categories of grill pan available. They all have their pros and cons. However, because of the way these pans are manufactured. Cast Iron is generally the best choice. They are made via sand mold and this lets manufacturer decide how tall the grills are. Cookware like aluminum and nonstick are typically made via a hydraulic press. They get a sheet of metal and stamp it out. If they tried to make the grill too tall, the metal will tear. To get around this, they limit the height of the grill. The issue is that with a low grill height, food will steam and stew its own juice. You also wont get that defined grill mark. The good thing is that they are generally lighter and easier to clean.
Cleaning Your Grill Pan
Cleaning a grill pan is a pain in general. The tall ridges gets in the way of sponges. You need a brush with long stiff bristle. I recommend the oen made by OXO, they are pretty effective. But even then, its not that effective. You can deglaze the pan with water when its hot, but manufacturer usually discourage this. The risk of thermal shock can damage the pan. The easiest alternative is to just soak it in water. The left on sediments will eventually loosen.
Best Grill Pan Thoughts
While there are many different factors that leads to the Best Grill Pan. When you get down to it, all that really matter is the grill mark. Of the different pans that I have, Staub has the tallest grill. They also sell a separate press that lets you make panini sandwich. Given that, they are quite expensive. Lodge makes a significantly cheaper alternative. But the ridge is not as tall. I would personally avoid the nonstick and aluminum one but they are a good choice for those who do not have the heavy cast iron model. You should choose one that best suits your need.
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