Flat top grills have different strengths and weaknesses than conventional grills. If you currently possess one, you’re probably already intimately familiar with them. So how can you get more value and utility out of your flat top grill?
Start With the Right Model
There are many flat top grills to choose from, but some are inherently better than others. There are many variables to consider when making this decision, and the best flat top grill for your needs may not be the best model for someone else. Think about the total surface area available for cooking, the nature of the temperature controls, the fuel type, the overall shape and design of the model, and whether it’s portable.
You’ll obviously also need to think about the cost of the flat top grill and your personal budget; you can splurge on a high-end model if you have the extra cash, but otherwise, a budget flat top grill might serve you just fine.
Once you have a flat top grill you truly enjoy, and one that’s capable of producing all the food you want most, you’ll be in a much better position to get more value out of it.
Never Preheat on High
Seasoned grillers are already nodding their heads, but this advice is worth repeating for those who don’t know it: never preheat your grill on high. It may seem like cranking the setting to its highest level is the best way to preheat the grill quickly, but doing so can quickly raise the surface temperature to a point that’s not going to work for whatever you’re cooking. This puts you at risk of overcooking your food and typically requires you to make more delicate temperature adjustments in the future. Instead, start with a lower setting and work your way up if necessary.
Clean as You Go
Professional chefs often swear by the “clean as you go” approach, encouraging professional and amateur cooks alike to wash dishes and clean cooking surfaces in the middle of cooking activities, rather than waiting until the end.
There are many good explanations for why this is advantageous. For starters, you can treat spills and stains before they harden or set in. You can also make use of time you would otherwise spend idle – and make your final round of cleanup a breeze.
Take this philosophy to your flat top grill and clean off the surface as you’re cooking food. A good scraper can help you keep the surface free of debris and minimize the effort you need to spend cleaning the grill at the end of your session.
Oil After Cooking
After you’re done cooking on your flat top grill for the day, give it a coat of oil. This is ideal for keeping your grilling surface in optimal condition. Think of it as a way to maintain the “nonstick” properties of your grill.
Use Pots and Pans
One of the advantages of a flat top grill is that it allows you to use the cooking service in many versatile ways. Don’t shy away from using pots and pans directly on the surface of the griddle; it’s a great way to keep foods hot or cook up some sides alongside your main dish.
Establish Multiple Zones
Assuming you have the controls to do so, establish multiple zones for your flat top grill. Different temperature settings can make it easy to cook a dish to completion, then move it to an area to stay warm until you’re ready to serve. You can also cook multiple dishes with different needs simultaneously.
Experiment With New Recipes
There are tons of interesting things you can cook on a flat top grill, from potato pancakes to classic burgers. You may already have a few favorites, but it’s important to experiment with entirely new options. It’s going to help you explore your culinary creativity while simultaneously keeping your family and friends interested in your creations.
Practice Some Tricks
Want to step up the sophistication? Practice some tricks with your cooking utensils so you can dazzle your guests while you’re finishing up a meal.
Try Some Accessories
There are many flat top grill accessories that can improve your cooking experience. Covers can help you maintain heat and heat foods more evenly, squeeze bottles allow you to apply oils and sauces at will, bench scrapers can keep your grilling surface clean, and sharp spatulas are useful for a variety of purposes. Try some of these accessories out and see if they’re a good fit for your grilling setup.
Not every grilling enthusiast needs a flat top grill specifically, but once you have one, you owe it to yourself to take full advantage of it. With a better grilling experience and better food, you’ll never regret this purchase.