What is a cast iron grill?
Grilling is a popular means for cooking a wide variety of meals. It is mainly applied on meat products but a grill can be used to cook vegetables too as long as the appropriate utensils are used. What’s more, grilling is a healthier alternative to a number of the more conventional means of cooking food such as frying as the final meal has less fat. A grill, and more so a cast iron grill, is the most basic piece of equipment you need for you to start to do any grilling. The grill is the equipment you place the meat pieces in. The meat is placed on top of a metal mesh that separates the food from the heat source.
Grills often come with a lid that allows you to cover the food during cooking and thus prevent heat loss and save on the amount of heat energy expended during the cooking. There is a wide range of grills one can choose from but cast iron has been the tool of choice for many years thanks to its overall robustness. Cast iron grills are remarkably portable (many weigh around 30lbs) and thus ideal for many forms of outdoor cooking, particularly where there is limited space such as a small porch.
What are the main features of a cast iron grill?
Even though the design may vary from one manufacturer to another, cast iron grills are built in such a way that the melting fat from the meat drips away and is redirected away from the food meaning that the final meal does not have a high concentration of animal fat. Grilling food also ensures that natural flavors and vitamins are retained since grilling automatically leads to the formation of a crust on the outside of the food. This crust serves as a protective sheath against the loss of key nutrients.
This compares favorably to other forms of cooking such as frying or boiling where the natural nutrients within the food are often dissolved and their positive health effects thus diminished. The choice of cast iron for grills has remained popular due to its considerable resilience in the face of the high temperatures that a grill requires. And high temperature is the hallmark of grilling. Other than the cooking of the food till it is ready to eat, the high temperatures are the cause of the professional looking grill lines’ that many have come to expect from on a well grilled piece of steak. Many cast iron grills today have metal handles for use on the hob, under the grill or in the oven.
The hardiness of cast iron coupled with the compact size of cast iron grills is what makes cast iron grills ideal for use in the outdoors such as during camping expeditions. Many grills actually come fitted with wheels for ease of movement and maneuverability. It is not only the core of the grill that is made from cast iron. The cooking grate within the grill unit is also made from cast iron as a way to maximize the use of the heat energy. This is because even though cast iron heats slowly, it will retain the heat for a long time-the thickness of cast iron ensures a lower rate of heat loss. Grills made from other metals such as aluminum or steel cannot quite match the same degree of retention.
The grill’s cooking surface is usually rectangular and comes pre-seasoned meaning it is ready to use off the shelf. However, if you do get a grill that is not pre-seasoned, seasoning it is not difficult. Cast iron grills allow for easy control of the speed of cooking the food as you can quickly rotate the grate away from the source of the heat whenever necessary. The grill often comes with the capability to adjust the height of the grate as well as a draft door to further manage high temperatures.
How is a cast iron grill best used?
When cooking with cast iron grills, there are a number of things that you must pay keen attention to. First, (if not pre-seasoned), season the grill plate to prevent your food from sticking to it. Wash the grill plate by hand using a little soap and water. The heat source can be wood or charcoal. If using wood, start by lighting a fire and allow the wood to burn until the flame starts to subside and what you have are red hot cinders. Charcoal is a little more straightforward to use.
The next step is to place your seasoned grill plate above the hot coals. Prepare your meat chunks by making sure that you coat the meat with oil to prevent it from sticking. Spread the meat evenly over the grill and flip the meat repeatedly to both sides cook evenly. Make sure that the meat is cooked thoroughly. After you finish cooking, allow the grill plate to cool then wash, clean and season it to make sure it is ready to use the next time you need it.
What are the benefits and advantages to using a cast iron grill?
There are many advantages of using cast iron grills as opposed to aluminum or other forms of cooking grills. For starters, cast iron has excellent heat retention qualities. Cost will vary between different manufacturers and depending on the size and added features the grill comes with. On the whole however, cast iron grills are relatively inexpensive and you should be able to get one that can serve your grilling needs effectively at a reasonable price.