Like many guys, I have a predilection for grilling. And for better or for worse, I also have that innate male expectation that when I buy any nonperishable item, I expect to keep it forever. (In fact, I regularly wear clothes that I purchased brand-new that are older than the internet. Even socks.)
At the confluence of these two character traits resides my love of a cast-iron grill pan. At home, I use the double-sided Giant Reversible Grill/Griddle from Le Creuset that takes up 2 burners, and here in the Test Kitchen, we use the Lodge Square Grill Pan. Trust me, they’re indispensible when you are testing burger recipes in the middle of January.
Of course, you don’t get the smoky flavor you get from grilling outside from a pan, but you can get it screaming hot and achieve that aggressive char that can only come from grilling, without the inconvenience of toting everything outside and waiting for your grill to heat up. Especially if you use charcoal. Plus in general, grilling food involves less added fat in a recipe, as a quick coating of cooking spray (Did you know that the serving size of cooking spray is calculated in fractions of seconds?) does the trick instead of oil for most applications. And cleaned and seasoned like any other cast-iron pan, they are essentially non-stick which is perfect for anyone who’s ever gazed sadly at the left-behind fragments of a flaky, white fish after a faulty flip. Or really any delicate foods--- like the tsukune (Japanese chicken meatballs) pictured here that are currently being tested for our meatball feature in September. It also takes the teeth gnashing out of grilling a tomato.
And like I said, they’re a great buy. The Lodge is less than $40 from some online retailers, and I’m pretty sure that barring some sort of cataclysmic drop onto cement while it’s scorching hot, it will probably outlast the pyramids.