Grilling is the easiest way to cook anything. Be it meat, cheese, veggies, or bread – anything off the grill is always expected to be overflowing with succulent flavors.
The intense heat allows you to make low fat and nutrient-rich food in a jiffy!
However, two things determine the kind of appliances you end up using in the kitchen: the space available and the kind of food you cook.
If you’re a meat-lover who likes their food piping hot, chances are you already own a grill in the house.
This article later covers more details on these alternatives and what kind of food can be cooked with these.
Grilling Traditions around the World
Every part of the world has a grilling tradition that inspires their luscious barbecues and mealtimes. Asian cuisine is incomplete without a richly flavored piece of chicken or fish as a side dish while satays, tofu kebabs, and grilled halloumi are delicacies of Middle Eastern countries.
In Europe, places like Sweden and Brussels can’t do without pork sausages, ham steaks, and salmon thickly marinated in a vinaigrette batter. And South African cuisine is nothing short of a ‘grill-fest’ – lamb, beef, springbok, ostrich, sosaties – you name it.
Some Substitutes/Alternatives of a Grill Pan
There’s no doubt that grilling is an essential way of cooking. However, people who live in small apartments or enclosed indoor spaces can’t afford to grill their meat every day.
In that case, how can you mimic the searing heat of the grill and drip off all that fat before the food reaches the plate?
Here are the best substitutes for a grill pan that can give you the same texture, heat, and flavor for all your dishes.
So without further delay, let’s find out how to grill without a grill pan.
A Griddle Pan
In many cases, a griddle pan is a perfect alternative to a grill pan.
A griddle will usually have a smoother surface, which makes it perfect for breakfast treats like French toast, eggs, sausages, grilled cheese sandwiches, and bacon. It is the best alternative to cooking over a direct grill pan as it provides the same heat, texture, and taste.
The main difference between a grill pan and a griddle is the elevated ridges. A griddle is slightly different from a regular flat frying pan and can be used to grill meat like fish, chicken, and beef.
The raised ridges are meant to leave searing marks on the food to make it appear as if it has been seared over a grill.
There are essentially two kinds of griddle pans – non-stick and cast iron.
The iron pan is always best for daily use as it’s thicker and more durable. Most of them are usually enameled, which makes them super-easy to clean and store.
Griddle pans come in many shapes and sizes, which will typically depend on how many people you’re cooking for. A small non-stick griddle is perfect for a single dinner and breakfast. You can keep it on the counter or stash it in a small drawer.
However, for big meals like dinner steaks and skewers, try using a heavy-duty, cast-iron griddle pan for intense heat and flavor.
If you’re looking for a versatile option for quick cooking, a reversible griddle might be it. There’s a griddle top on one side and a grill on the other for home use. It’s lightweight and can be moved in and out of storage when you need it.
Cast Iron Skillet
If you don’t have a griddle, a cast-iron skillet or a frying pan is what most homeowners commonly use. It is much rounder and flatter in shape.
Usually available in iron (cast or wrought), copper, steel, and aluminum, anything you sear over a grill can be perfectly cooked over the skillet instead.
Unlike a griddle that may have a small lip to retain the liquids on the sides, a skillet is a little deeper with a bigger diameter. Skillets are usually for sautéing, browning, and shallow frying meat and vegetables. They are versatile and can handle both summery side dishes and well-done meats.
This way, you won’t have to turn on your oven for quick veggie roasting. Simply, turn up the skillet and prepare beautifully charred veggies for the sides.
The secret to grill-like cooking is reaching the right temperature before you pop in the food. Skinnier, smaller veggies like asparagus, squash, and cherry tomatoes will cook pretty quickly over a skillet.
Make sure your skillet is well-seasoned and well-heated to cook your steaks and burgers like a pro. Retaining the flavors is far more important than charring your food. And a skillet, with its rounder, the deeper vessel will allow you to keep those mouth-watering juices and spices from dripping down.
You won’t even have to air out your kitchen because a skillet doesn’t allow flare-ups. So, you get to enjoy smoky flavors and juices while getting a perfectly grilled-like meal.
Even if your grill is brand new, it can still get sticky and charred very quickly. You will have to clean and season it often for the next meal.
However, a cast-iron skillet doesn’t have this issue at all. You can cook all your delicate proteins like sticky chicken wings, salmon, and scallops without fretting that they will stick.
And lastly, for those of you who like that extra kick of flavors in their meals, grilling your sauce over a skillet will enhance its smokiness and viscosity.
Herbed butter, basil sauces, fruit chutneys – anything can turn into a delicacy over the skillet.
An Electric Counter Top Grill Pan
Your next option is an electric stovetop grill. It’s pretty much the same as a grill pan, however, instead of a stovetop burner, the surface of the pan uses a self-healing system to cook your food.
This feature makes it perfect for rare and medium steaks that need a special temperature to cook. The electric grills are also usually close to one another so your food can heat up very quickly. The contact grill is ideal for cooking pressed Panini sandwiches and low-fat food as it helps drop off all the oils and grease.
You can use either the top or bottom grill according to the recipe you’re following. However, before you use an electric grill, you’ll have to follow a manual to set it up. There are different temperature gauges for different meats.
It’s time to rediscover what your oven can do. The broiler is a crucial part of your oven that offers intense heat for speedy cooking. It’s perfect for when you want to melt cheese over casseroles and bread. The main quality of a broiler is that it gives a super-concentrated blast of heat from above.
Think of it as an upside-down grill pan where instead of cooking your food over a surface, you’re doing it directly above the heat. A broiler pan is the closest indoor substitute to an actual grill because the fire is right above your food.
Although you can’t get the same black grill marks, broilers can give your meats and veggies a gorgeous char. Quick grilled recipes like pork chops, tenderloins, and chicken kebabs cook perfectly well and tender over a broiler pan. You may also have to skip on the smoky charcoal flavor, but broiler pans have their own pros.
Just like in a grill pan, you’ll hardly need one or two tablespoons of oil to cook big chunks of meat because the heat will cook everything on its own. If you’re broiling in the oven, adjust your rack 5-9 inches away from the heat for safe cooking.
A grill pan is usually an option for when you can’t grill outdoors. However, a gas or charcoal grill can also be used as an alternative. Apart from being a great excuse for a barbecue night, you get a chockfull of smoky and earthy flavors in your food.
Make sure not to cover the grill when following the recipe and adjust the cooking temperature accordingly. Outdoor grills are quick to lose their heat, so keep stoking them to maintain the right temperature.
A Kick of Smoky Condiments
Grilling essentially boils down to the succulent flavor. Adding a handful of smoky ingredients like smoked paprika, cumin, salt, or oil can really spice things up on a whole new level. You can easily fake the unique grilled flavor by adding a dash of smoked spices, chipotle chilies, or barbecue marinades to your food.
This can be done over skillets, griddle pans, or even an electric stove. For extra smokiness, a dash of your favorite liquids like red wine is perfect to make your food seem like it has just been charred over a grill.
A dark beer like Guinness or liquid smoke can add a delicious undertone to your dish that may not be achieved over a grill. If you like experimenting with kitchen ingredients, then Lapsang souchong – smoked or black tea – is another condiment for braised meat and veggies that enhances the depth of the smokiness of the food.
Molasses, present in many barbecue sauces, gives a dark color to your food that looks like it has been beautifully charred.
Using all these ingredients will add a wonderful smoky depth to your meat and veggie dishes without ever having to invest in a heavy grill pan. Finish it off with by sprinkling some smoked salt that will win you heart-warming compliments!
Your kitchen is a wonderful place of fancy tools and ingredients.
Instead of fretting over a grill pan, use and improve them to make delicious and quick grilled recipes. Share these substitutes for a grill pan with your friends and family!
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