Cast Iron Griddle
© Denzil Green
Griddles are flat surfaces with no sides on them heated up for cooking food items on.
That being said, more modern ones now often have side gutters, and often have ridges on one side of them.
They are usually made of cast iron, or of aluminum, with a non-stick finish.
The metal plate that makes up the surface will vary from 1/8 inch to 1 inch (.3 to 2.5 cm) thick, depending on the type of griddle.
Smaller ones may have one long handle; longer, rectangular ones will have a handle at each end. The side gutters are for grease and food debris to be scraped into. Often there is a raised back that acts as a splatter guard.
In restaurants, griddles are very large metal surfaces, made of aluminum, iron or steel. In a restaurant, a griddle is used for bacon, sausages, homefries, scrambled and fried eggs, French toast, pancakes, hamburger patties, “grilled” cheese sandwiches, fried onions, tender cuts of beef, pieces of chicken and fish, Philly Cheese Steak, Reuben sandwiches, omelets, etc.
Griddling used to be mostly used for cooking quickbreads on it, such as scones, English muffins, crumpets, etc, and consequently the surface as flat.
© Sue Schenk
Now, most griddles have ridges on them (except for pancake griddles), and the idea behind griddling in the popular mind is to cook the food with a slight char on it, in initiation of grilling. The ridges both give score marks to the food, and allow fat to drain off. As such a look can be achieved indoors, and without backyard grilling facilities needed, it is becoming very popular now. In fact, because of this, a “griddle” is often confused now in popular language usage with a “grill.”
Cast-iron griddle pans eventually become non-stick, just as regular cast-iron pans do. You can get double-sided cast iron griddles. One side is flat, the other side ridged. They are designed to go over two burners on a stove top. The spot in the middle, where there is no burner, will be cooler and not as hot as the ends. The double-sided concept has one drawback: people have found that if you get one side seasoned, and then flip it over and cook with the other side on a flame burner, the seasoning on the underside gets damaged.
Heavy griddles are considered by many the best, because they distribute the heat more evenly.
Sometimes griddled foods need to be finished in the oven; you may want to bear that in mind when buying a griddle pan and choose one with an ovenproof handle, though none of the electric griddles will be oven-safe.
A Mexican comal is a round griddle used for baking tortillas on it.
Griddles should be hot before putting the food on them, or the food will stick. The food will also stick if you turn it too early. As meat cooks, it will at first stick, then release itself by the time it’s actually time to turn it.
A smoking griddle is caused by too much oil or marinade on what you are cooking; drain or shake any excess marinade or oil off before putting your food item on your griddle pan.
For restaurant griddles, before each use, brush the griddle surface with vegetable oil, heat to 400 F (200 C), leave it at that temperature for 5 minutes, then scrape excess oil off, and cook (this procedure is not needed for non-stick, seasoned cast iron, or chromium surfaces.) To clean a restaurant griddle, let it cool down to just warm, empty the well where the fat has drained, scrape surface with a scraper, spread water and soap over top, let sit for a few minutes, brush clean, and rinse. Some people like to use soda water in the cleaning.
Bensky, Gary. Fresh off the griddle: standard cooking device revered for multiple uses. New York: Nation’s Restaurant News. 20 January 2003.
Types of griddles