With five mouths to feed, having some oversize cookware can come in handy, especially when trying to crank out breakfast. Sunday mornings the kids are swirling around the kitchen proclaiming how hungry they are even though I’ve just given them a banana and milk to tide them over until the pancakes or waffles are ready. When it was just the two of us I made pancakes in my round 8-inch cast iron skillet without any problem, but now that the Three Amigos have joined the family, I can’t be bothered with small pans that only cook two or three pancakes at a time.
I tried out an extra large electric griddle, but the heat was very uneven because the coils simply didn’t cover enough surface area and the thing was just huge, so both washing and storage were a problem. Of course dropping it one day didn’t help performance. I studied these Lodge griddles/grill pans for a while thinking it would work well, but our old gas stove had burners with different BTUs aligned, making even heating even more difficult when spanning two burners. So I held off, but when we moved last spring and realized the cooktop had burners with the same BTUs on one side, I ordered the grill/griddle pan.
The pan is pre-seasoned, so you don’t have to deal with that step, but it’s not a nonstick pan. I highly recommend spraying the pan with a canola oil spray each time you use it, especially if you use both sides because the stove/cooktop will cook away the seasoning on the side facing the burner. One night in January I had started some steaks on the outdoor grill only to have the tank run out, so I quickly brought them indoors thinking I could finish them on the grill pan. Since I usually use the griddle side, the grill side had basically been wiped clean of any seasoning, and I had to spray quite a bit to keep the steaks from sticking. I also have cooked fish, chicken, burgers, and hot dogs on the grill side, and all but the hot dogs had a tendency to stick unless I sprayed well.
The pan fits our gas cooktop burners fine, but the design of our burner grates doesn’t work well with the pan design. In the photo below, note the ridge that runs around the two cutout handles. That ridge sits right on the spoke of the burner grate and balances precariously, actually tilting from side to side as I cook. I finally realized I could slightly rotate the burner grates and the ridge would rest on two spokes instead of one. That helped a lot, but it was annoying until I solved the problem.
Despite the fact that cast iron is an excellent conductor of heat, there are some cold spots and I have to move things around when cooking to keep them cooking evenly, but that is pretty much inevitable when spanning multiple burners. The flames only reach so far, and even after a good preheat and cooking time, there are still spots between the two burners that do not get as hot as directly over the flames.
This is a heavy, heavy pan. My biggest worry is dropping it on my foot or one of the boys’ feet or on the tile floor because it will do some damage if it falls. We store it in the island and have that cabinet locked so the boys don’t pull it out. Take care when lifting it!
Retail price is $64.95, but shop around. I found mine for almost half that price when Amazon had them for around $35.00. The free shipping was an extra bonus for something this heavy.
[I purchased this item myself.]
The bottom line:
Pros: holds heat, can cook 4 or 5 pancakes at a time
Cons: very heavy; the ridge in the handles raises it off the burners and may cause it to tilt from side to side, cold spots almost inevitable when spanning two burners;
Cost: retail $64.95, shop around for good deals
Where to buy: Amazon.com, Target, other online retailers
Company Website: www.lodgemfg.com