Tips for cooking on the griddle

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Tips for cooking on the griddle
The large, flat surface of a griddle allows you to cook many pancakes at once. (blueberry pancakes image by Mat Hayward from Fotolia.com)

A griddle, also called a flattop stove, is a large, flat surface for cooking food. A griddle can be a stainless-steel surface built directly into a range. A griddle can also be a separate pan for use on grills or hobs. Cast-iron griddles resemble large, square skillets. Electric griddles boast a non-stick surface, have a separate temperature control and do not require a stove. The type of griddle you have will determine how you cook with it.

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Preparing the Surface

If you have a cast-iron griddle, you must season it before use. To season cast iron, coat the entire surface of the griddle with vegetable shortening or oil. The greased griddle is baked in an oven, upside down, to allow the oil or shortening to penetrate the pores of the iron. This will make the griddle non-stick for future uses. For non-stick griddles, you do not need to add oil to prepare the surface, but wipe stainless-steel griddles with an oiled paper towel or a spritz of cooking spray before cooking to make them non-stick.

Preheating

Cast-iron griddles should be placed on a cold hob and heated slowly to avoid breaking from a rapid change in temperature. Electric skillets and built-in skillets should both be preheated on "Medium" heat for at least 10 minutes prior to cooking. When a droplet of water dances around on the surface without immediately evaporating, your griddle surface is ready for cooking.

Utensils

Use soft utensils, such as heat-proof silicon spatulas, on non-stick griddles. Metal utensils will scratch the surface, and over time, make food stick to the griddle. Metal utensils can be used with stainless-steel and cast-iron griddles. Choose your utensils to match the food being cooked. A wide spatula, which gets completely under a large pancake, is ideal for that application, but narrower spatulas will give you more control when scrambling eggs or turning slender chicken breasts.

Cleaning

Never submerge a hot cast-iron or electric griddle into cold water. The change in temperature will damage the metal and cause it to break. The best cleaning method for all types of griddles is to pour room-temperature club soda over the griddle surface while it is still warm but not hot. Gently scrub the surface of the griddle with a soapless sponge or piece of steel wool. This will loosen any food on the griddle. Do not use steel wool on non-stick griddle surfaces. Rinse with water and carefully dry the surface of the griddle with a paper towel. Non-stick griddles can be washed with soap and water, if desired, but avoid soap with cast-iron griddles as it will get into the pores of the metal and make your next dinner taste soapy.

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