Using My Cast Iron Griddle
December 8, 2004 12:20 PM   Subscribe

I have an electric stove with coil burners that heat very unevenly. I also have a Cast Iron Griddle. I am thinking of putting the griddle on the burner, and then cooking with other pots/pans on top of the griddle, which should heat fairly evenly. Is this going to cause any problems? Will it screw up either the griddle or the pan/pot on top of it?
posted by rorycberger to Food & Drink (12 answers total)
I don't imagine it would cause problems from a safety standpoint. It seems quite inefficient, however, since you'll be heating the whole surface and lip of the griddle. Can't you just replace the burners?
posted by bondcliff at 12:27 PM on December 8, 2004

Ditto the burner comment. They're easy to replace, and you can get them anywhere (Homedepot, Walmart etc.)
posted by Keith Talent at 12:31 PM on December 8, 2004

is this for high or low heat? for low heat you can buy, at least here in chile and, if you search around, in the uk too, metal "plates" that spread the heat. they much thinner/lighter than cast iron so won't waster so much energy and let you better control the temperature. excellent for simmering rice, for example. they're also good for warming up bread.
posted by andrew cooke at 12:31 PM on December 8, 2004

IANADOKA*, but I would be willing to bet that one of two things will happen:

a. The griddle will heat far more than you expect, because the placement of another conductor of heat (i.e., a pot or pan) will only serve to compound the temperature of the griddle. Instead of just convecting heat up from the eye to the griddle to the pan, you'll be returning heat to the griddle as well, resulting in either a very structurally compromised griddle or a terrificly burned hand.

b. The griddle will be too stingy with the passed-thru heat to do much more than just scorch the bases of your cookware.

* I Am Not A Designer of Kitchen Applicances.
posted by grabbingsand at 12:31 PM on December 8, 2004

jooc, why not get some cast iron pans and cook with suchly? although I'd have to third the element replacement option.
posted by mrg at 12:36 PM on December 8, 2004

hmmm, guess i'll try to get new coils. I guess I didn't think about the fact that the coils are probably the weak link, I figured I just had a bum stove. Thanks for the advice.

[on preview: I have several cast iron pans, and use them a lot, but they aren't good for everything and sometimes I just don't feel like dealing with a 12 pound pan]
posted by rorycberger at 12:38 PM on December 8, 2004

What you need is a flame tamer. Mine's more like this than this.
posted by MrMoonPie at 12:45 PM on December 8, 2004

I'd think you'd damage the griddle; the dry heat would burn off any seasoning.
posted by MrMoonPie at 12:47 PM on December 8, 2004

You're going to curse the idea the first time you forget about it and burn yourself on the griddle.

I assume you rent or replacing the electric stove with gas is cost-prohibitive. Your best bet is to use other good pans when you don't use the cast iron. Copper is great, although spendy. I'm fond of the All-Clad nonstick series - also kind of expensive, but you could supplement your cast iron a few pieces at a time.
Flame tamers are good for evenly-spread low-heat, but won't help much with regular cooking - I think. You might also consider a good-quality electric skillet ($50 or so.) These heat more evenly than a dodgy pan on a dodgy cooker, and clean up is a cinch.
posted by sixdifferentways at 1:22 PM on December 8, 2004

If you have coils that heat unevenly, the best thing you can do (short of replacing the coils, which does sound like a good idea) is to use a heavy gauge highly-conductive pan. Something made out of aluminum is okay, copper is better. Because these pans are very conductive, the heat spreads out through the surface of the pan instead of just passing straight up to the food.

Cast iron is conductive, but only over long periods - it does not react quickly to temperature changes. If you try to heat it up quickly from one side, it's going to act less conductive and you'll get a hot spot.
posted by Caviar at 3:46 PM on December 8, 2004

MrMoonPie's suggestion is probably the easiest bet. I've used the second tamer that he listed and it works great.
posted by spaghetti at 4:16 PM on December 8, 2004

ah! that's what i was talking about! (we have one like the first kind). "flame tamer". hmmm. incidentally, the handle tends to char over time - we also have one with a wire handle that's going to last longer.
posted by andrew cooke at 5:50 PM on December 8, 2004

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