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Cooking With A Plancha


weinoo
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I want to call it a plancha...because it sounds cool. It may not technically be a plancha - it's my reversible cast-iron stove top grill; you know the one - one side is flat and the other is ridged.

Whatever it's called, I hardly use it...I guess because the grill side isn't really grilling, and if you've used the grill side and want to use the flat side, when you turn the sucker over all the drippings that dripped when you were "grilling" now get incinerated.

But now I want to focus on using the flat side and yesterday I pulled it out of it's slot, heated it up and made breakfast, starting with griddling some Flying Pigs Farm's shoulder bacon...

2011_09 Shoulder Bacon.jpg

And finishing with some French toast, having been inspired by Fat Guy's French toast topic...

2011_09_23 French toast.jpg

The French toast came out quite good. The bacon, of course, was a no brainer.

Do you own a plancha? If so, what do you use it for?

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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I received one as a gift and was at first puzzled. It redeemed itself the day I mixed up the dates of the little gathering I was catering....... With an hour to get everything done it was heaven sent for cooking up all the marinated chicken tenders. Since it spans 2 burners, has no curves that waste space, and heats up evenly, it seems to give me way more than the surface area of just two skillets. Since that time I have used it for larger quantities.

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Never heard of them or seen one, but it does look like a very handy piece of kitchenware. Will look them up...

ps. Roughly half hour later: OK. Who knows where to get one in Canada?

pps. Found one on Amazon.ca

Edited by Darienne (log)

Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

Cheers & Chocolates

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I bought one of these, then used it solely for making tortillas. It's perfect for that because you can use the two burners at different heats and its really easy to flip them.

But I didn't make tortillas for a while and for some reason the seasoning came off and it rusted. I just refinished it and have been thinking of what I could do. I've used if for pancakes, but outside of pancakes/french toast and tortillas, I'm not really sure what to do. Maybe I'll just force myself to use it and see what happens.

nunc est bibendum...

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Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't 'plancha' simply the Spanish word for 'griddle'? Any stove top smooth griddle, or camping griddle, could be referred to as a plancha I suppose...

But, whenever I hear the term, I immediately think of one of these bad boys!

So we finish the eighteenth and he's gonna stiff me. And I say, "Hey, Lama, hey, how about a little something, you know, for the effort, you know." And he says, "Oh, uh, there won't be any money. But when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness."

So I got that goin' for me, which is nice.

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Bertazzoni, the maker of my new kitchen range, makes a stainless griddle accessory that I totally want. However it costs $350 and I can't for the life of me think of how I'd store it.

In terms of the term "plancha" I think that, while as far as the Spanish language is concerned you could correctly call any griddle a plancha, in contemporary professional cooking the plancha is distinguished from a plain-vanilla griddle by its chrome plating. A chrome-surfacw plancha is pretty non-reactive with food, is what I've been told. So when you cook on it you get a certain effect, very clean-simple, which is not exactly the same as cooking on a griddle. I remember about a decade ago when the plancha trend started in nice restaurants in New York. It's a great tool.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I have the same "plancha"... after coming home from the Med. coast of Spain, I was Plancha-Crazy and plancha'd practically everything... I made my own "seawater" by making a roughly 14% sea salt solution and kept it in a squeeze bottle... seawater + olive oil plus seafood or whole fish = awesome... but it makes a lot of smoke!!!

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We have a Le Crueset one that we use off and on. The grill side is great for last minute steak sandwiches, etc and the other is for pancakes for a crowd, when I season it properly. I do find it painful to clean though.

Edited to add: I forgot that I have also used it for cooking English muffins and griddle scones. Works a treat for those.

Edited by Snadra (log)
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Bertazzoni, the maker of my new kitchen range, makes a stainless griddle accessory that I totally want. However it costs $350 and I can't for the life of me think of how I'd store it.

In terms of the term "plancha" I think that, while as far as the Spanish language is concerned you could correctly call any griddle a plancha, in contemporary professional cooking the plancha is distinguished from a plain-vanilla griddle by its chrome plating. A chrome-surfacw plancha is pretty non-reactive with food, is what I've been told. So when you cook on it you get a certain effect, very clean-simple, which is not exactly the same as cooking on a griddle. I remember about a decade ago when the plancha trend started in nice restaurants in New York. It's a great tool.

You can get the American Metalcraft one for much less. I've got three that I used to use on my "portable" gas stoves for catering outdoor events.

They have to be "seasoned" as you would a steel crepe pan. Mine have been stored hanging on the wall in my storage building for a few years and are looking rather gunky. Oy!

I also have a large electric griddle - Broil King, I used when catering. It had the largest surface and most even heat distribution, as well as developed the highest temps of all the electric griddles I tried.

I got it at a restaurant supply store but it is now available at Amazon.

Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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I have that Lodge too. Only in my old apartment, I burnt the stove (permanently discoloring it) and melted the knobs using it. I haven't taken it out since. It's a pain in the butt to clean since it's so heavy and so big. I really like the way food comes out on it, but it's just too big for my current stove as well.

I have this other Caphalon non-stick griddle pan that is WONDERFUL. I use it for everything. I grill (dry and marinated) vegetables, make pancakes and the like, makes steaks, I love it. A recent trip back to the store that I originally bought it at, I noticed that the material was much lighter and thinner. In light of that, I am not sure I'd be able to recommend it.

Edited by ambra (log)
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Carch..

That thing weights in @ 80 pounds!! But.. Its great when I do large gatherings.

Wasn't cheap to have made either, I think it was 500$. I think just the cost of the 1/2 inch stainless was half the price.

The other flat plate, I made, I use more often. Originally I was having it made for the pizza project, but it works very well on my grill too.

Paul

Its good to have Morels

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My griddle is anodized aluminum rather than cast iron so weight isn't an issue. Use it in the two burners of our Bertazzoni but where it is really handy is on our Weber gas grill. Perfect size and even heating. Very useful for larger parties simply as a big skillet for frying things. Last tapas party for my wine club we did sage fritters, grilled paella cakes (good for risotto cakes too), migas, little toads in the hole using quail eggs.

Don't use it daily when cooking for two unless we are having pancakes or French toast but of course great for that. Need to break it out for flatbreads too.

For storage it happens to fit vertically at the front of the pull out wire rack pots and pan drawer that was already in the kitchen when we bought the house. But in old house just slid it in beside the sheet pans.

Really like that custom stainless steel job-- tempting!

Llyn Strelau

Calgary, Alberta

Canada

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I have retired my old double sided cast iron griddle. It lived in my old BBQ for awhile but now is packed away and no doubt slowly rusting away.. I have a round cast iron comal now that I love. I have made tortilla and bannock on it over the bbq, taken it camping and it is perfect for pancakes and eggs over the campfire.

"Why is the rum always gone?"

Captain Jack Sparrow

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I used to live in Spain, and try to replicate some Spanish cooking with my plancha.

I pretty much use it over the gas flames of my bbq.

Coincidently, mine looks identical to yours.

Fish, brushed in evoo and lemon is particularly good.

S1036101.JPG

Pinchos.

S1036115.JPG

In Spain they use it for making egg things too. Omelettes, and fried eggs.

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I wonder if it would be possible to have someone fabricate a "steam plancha" for stovetop use?

For those of you just tuning in, the way these work is that there is a sealed chamber below the cooking surface that is half-filled with water. The water is (super) heated and the steam is what heats the cooking surface from below. What makes this especially good is that when you put something on the plancha and thermal energy is transferred into the food, it creates a localized "cold spot" on the plancha. Underneath, in the chamber, there is increased condensation of water vapor onto the localized cold spot, which transfers greater amounts of thermal energy right to the exact spot where it is needed. The end result is that the temperature of the plancha surface is incredibly even and doesn't get lowered underneath the food items placed on the plancha.

I'm thinking it ought to be possible to create a hollow rectangle out of relatively thick aluminum (or whatever) that is welded closed with some water inside. Needless to say, you would want to massively over-engineer the thing so it couldn't possibly explode from built-up pressure.

--

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I just wanted to clarify that the word Plancha actually means Iron or Press not the griddle. To cook a la Plancha you need to have the weighted press keeping the dish flat.

I am not sure about the history of A la Plancha in Spanish cuisine... although from my reading of Spanish gastronomic cuisine it was not present 500 years ago. Cooking on a griddle of course is a fundamental technique in Pre-Hispanic cooking and basic to present day Mexican cooking.

There is an entire genre of Taquerias in Mexico City that specialize on Tacos a la Plancha.... we are talking thin chicken cutlets, fish fillets, butterflied shrimp, mushrooms, cheese "chicharrones" & much more.. all seasoned very simply, cooked on the griddle with the press, plopped on a tortillas then dressed up with several salsas (no onions or cilantro typically in these types of delicate tacos).

Another genre of are Taquerias are the Tacos de Albanil (Construction Worker Tacos)... these taqueros also only do griddled, plancha style tacos with thin meats & vegetables howowever they also have onions, peppers, chorizo, bacon & ham on the griddle... you can order your taco with any combination of those items with or without Asadero cheese.. voila Tacos de Albanil.

However where the griddle really shines is in indigenous cooking... I spent 2004-2005 cooking almost every dinner on the Comal (Mexican for griddle)... with the following styles of cooking:

"Water Frying"... a common lower class pre-hispanic technique (only the wealthy & producers cooked with animal lards or rendered pumpkin see oil)... you put something like say a Crawfish right on a very hot comal (that is cured with mineral salt).. and you pour a very light but steady stream of water around it constantly moving it around to keep it from sticking... when you are a few seconds from being done you pour in a thin but flavor intensive salsa and let it sear onto the dish. This technique was used on anything that could be cooked quickly & wouldn't stick.

"Pouch Steaming"... the other basic pre-hispanic technique is to place your "sticky" ingredients in a pouch with chopped aromatics and maybe a little salt.. seal it tightly and cook right on the hot griddle. The wrapper was typically dried corn husks, agave leave "paper" aka Mixiote, green corn leaves or hoja santa leaves.

The link below show how indigenous people in Valle de Bravo (area west of Mexico City where trout farming is the primary way of life).. cook trout in this style called Tlapique

http://oncetv-ipn.net/rutadelsabor/capitulo02/a_galeria.html

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I wonder if it would be possible to have someone fabricate a "steam plancha" for stovetop use?

For those of you just tuning in, the way these work is that there is a sealed chamber below the cooking surface that is half-filled with water. The water is (super) heated and the steam is what heats the cooking surface from below. What makes this especially good is that when you put something on the plancha and thermal energy is transferred into the food, it creates a localized "cold spot" on the plancha. Underneath, in the chamber, there is increased condensation of water vapor onto the localized cold spot, which transfers greater amounts of thermal energy right to the exact spot where it is needed. The end result is that the temperature of the plancha surface is incredibly even and doesn't get lowered underneath the food items placed on the plancha.

I'm thinking it ought to be possible to create a hollow rectangle out of relatively thick aluminum (or whatever) that is welded closed with some water inside. Needless to say, you would want to massively over-engineer the thing so it couldn't possibly explode from built-up pressure.

Just curious as to what pressure you think would be generate? Is this something, like a flat top pressure cooker, let say 15 PSI. Could achieve?

Its good to have Morels

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