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Why all the fuss about cast iron grill pans?
For me, a cast iron grill pan is my favourite must-have cookware in the kitchen. I know a lot of home cooks think the same. But why are these very heavy pans so good for cooking?
Cast iron is a very dense metal that heats very slowly compared to metals like copper and aluminium. But once heated, cast iron distributes heat so well. It cooks foods evenly without you having to rotate the pan and manage the heat constantly as you cook.
Cast iron pans have excellent heat retention, which means they get extremely hot and will hold that heat for a long time. This gives the pan a steady temperature to brown food beautifully and sears meats to create a lovely chargrilled flavour.
A well-seasoned cast iron pan has a naturally nonstick surface. Although a newly seasoned cast iron pan might still have some sticky spots, the surface will become more nonstick as you use it over time.
Because cast iron is naturally nonstick, it is also easy to clean. For those who are lazy when it comes to dishes, like me, this is fantastic news! To wash, just rinse the pan in boiling water or boil water in the pan for 5-10 minutes, then rinse again.
Cast iron maintains and distributes heat so well, even amateur home cooks can make a restaurant-quality meal so easily without having to spend a fortune on cookware. And, because cast iron lasts forever, all you need is to buy it once.
Why the ridges?
Ever wonder if those distinctive ridges actually do anything other than leaving beautiful grill marks on anything you cook? The raised ridges on a cast iron grill pan transfer the heat into the food while keeping the oil and grease separated from the food and run down in between them. This reduces the overall fat content of the food. The intense heat from the ridges also browns or blackens the food as the sugars in the food become caramelised from the heat, giving it a more delicious barbecue flavour.
Good finds on Amazon
You will find cast-iron pans in most home goods stores, but I personally prefer shopping on Amazon as it makes it much easier to compare brands, sizes and read customer reviews so I can pick the one that works best for me.
Amazon’s Choice: Lodge 10.5 inch Cast Iron Grill Pan £34.99
Just my personal experience – Amazon’s Choices are generally good. They may not be top of the range, but they’re good quality, usually at an affordable price.
Lodge is an American manufacturer of cast iron cookware, established over a hundred years ago. This one works well on both induction and gas cooktops. With a maximum width of 1.5″ and length 5.5″, the whole pan can be put into a standard oven if you want to finish your steak in the oven.
The Superstar Grill Pan: Le Creuset Cast Iron Grill Pan £105
The best known and most popular brand for high-end cast iron cookware has to be Le Creuset. I’m not a big fan of the brand, to be honest, but the signature colours on their range of cast iron pans are so pretty it’s hard not to fall in love with their products. I’m sure there is no doubt about its quality, but it’s also a little more expensive than most other brands.
My Pick: VonShef 26cm Cast Iron Grill Pan £29
Like the Lodge pan, this one also works on induction hobs. It’s more affordable than a Le Creuset but it’s got a very similar look. It’s a good budget cast iron but cooks food just as beautifully as other cast iron pans. The stylish red outer finish is a bonus if you’re like me, like to take pictures around the kitchen.
So, which one do I actually use?
John Lewis Cast Iron Grill Pan £35.00
You can kind of guess by looking at which one I chose above for My Pick. I like the one that looks good but doesn’t come with a Le Creuset price. I’m a big fan of John Lewis for their quality products, so I also use their cast iron grill pan, available in frost grey and this lovely teal-ish blue colour that I love. I’m also using the John Lewis cast iron casserole within the same collection and the same colour. View it on johnlewis.com.
One more thing…
There are hundreds of options on Amazon. With a bit of research and a look at the customer reviews, I’m sure you can find a cast iron grill pan that you like. Just beware that some similar grill pans are not cast iron. Although they look the same with ridges on the cooking surface, they could be made of cast aluminium, which is a completely different thing.
What’s your everyday pan made of and what do you think about it? Share with me in the comments below!
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