Now here is a fantastic buy. If you are familiar with or own Le Creuset enameled cast iron wares you might be skeptical about Lodge's decision to also make enameled cast iron cookware decades after Le Creuset invented the process...especially at these LOW prices. There is no question about it, French Le Creuset and the Alsatian French Staub enameled cast ironware is premium quality. BUT, Le Creuset's Grill Pan will cost you about $125 average while Lodge's version is only about $60! Lodge sources its enameling powder from the same supplier in France that Le Creuset uses. Of course Lodge need not add import duties to their product as required by Le Creuset, but still, Lodge is offering a high quality product here in the states at amazingly affordable prices.
For me, the primary reason I bought the Lodge Grille Pan was not price. I wanted the benefits of seasoned cast iron's nonstick qualities. Both Lodge and Le Creuset use enamel on the exterior. On the interior Lodge does not coat the cooking surface or the cooking surface of the underside of the Panini Press, but leaves it bare so that one may season it, making it nonstick! Le Creuset coats their grill pan interiors and Panini Press undersides with clear enamel so that the benefits of bare cast iron in this application is negated when using a Le Creuset grill pan. For me, for stove top grilling, this Lodge grill pan is the only way to go. I own eleven pieces of Le Creuset cookware and I prefer it in most cases, but not when it comes to the grill pan and its Panini Press. If you do not intend to buy the Panini Press, then the plain, bare cast iron model is not as pretty as the enameled version, but it is cheaper for sure, and it can be seasoned to make it nonstick if not already factory seasoned.
By the way, one reviewer here alleges that there might be lead in this product...that is pure nonsense as Lodge closely monitors its Chinese manufacturing site and sources its enamel material directly from France...I called Lodge to inquire. To ensure high quality and safety, American, Canadian and European firms having products made in China monitor things very, very closely, as they must, and should.You know I am not a fan of the Chinese government not the culture of cheating there, but man, how over the top paranoid and McCarthyite, Sarah Bachmann mentality can you get...some people here must learn higher quality critical thinking skills and learn to gather evidence instead of just guessing and spouting off.
Ok, but why buy a grill pan in the first place? For healthy food intake, you need to reduce the amount of fats you ingest. The ribbed surface of grill pans reduces that intake simply by raising the food above the surface of the pan that allows the fats, via gravity, to drip below the food and collect on the pan's lower surface. Grill marks on grilled food also make a nice visual presentation. The Helper Handle opposite the main handle provides a place to grip the heavy pan when lifting...it does help. For a family I advise buying a pair of these grill pans and they are cheap enough in price to do so.
The raised grill ridges also suspend food above the pan's surface when you do not want full contact with a hot surface that might over-brown or blacken some foods. For example, when making Panini sandwiches you cut a roll in half, fill it with cured sliced meat or fowl with added veggies, then heat to toast the sandwich on the grill pan's raised ribs, leaving grill marks on the roll. Be aware that for making a Panini sandwich the pan merely heats the sandwich and can melt cheese, but it does NOT cook it though because of the thickness of the sandwich.
To ensure that the sandwich experiences full contact with the grill for faster and more thorough heating, pushing down on the sandwich really helps. To make that job easier Le Creuset invented the Panini Press, an enameled cast iron, handled slab shaped to fit the grill pan...Lodge has copied that design. It really works when you toast both sides of the Panini sandwich...also perfect for grilled cheese sandwiches. I have reviewed the Lodge Panini Press so search on my review (About $30, as opposed to Le Creuset's $85 version).
Some home cooks will consider this grille pan as a specialty item. It really is not, not if you care about your health. I use mine 95% of the time for grilling meats, fowl and fish, and sometimes for Panini sandwiches. I would advise using it as much as possible instead of a flat bottomed fry pan that collects grease and fats, allowing the food to absorb those fats while it sits in the pan bathing itself in fat. Yuck. For indoor grill it is superb, nut turn on the fan, lol. May I recommend trying a wonderful recipe: Steak Pouvre (peppered steak) the recipe for which you can easily find online (I like James Beard's recipe found in his American Cookery, or Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol 1)...bring out the Cognac! This pan is an amazing value with a very high cost to quality to performance ratios. Easy to clean and dishwasher-safe on the bottom rack. My review of the matching Panini Press is here on Amazon as well. Made in France.Recommended.
I hope this was helpful to you. If you have questions, please reply in the Comment section...I would be glad to help.
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