All hail the grill pan

This weekend I bought a grill pan: a Lodge Logic Grid Iron reversible grill/griddle. It fits over two burners and enables you to make awesome food if you don’t have an outdoor grill or any likelihood of getting one in the near future. (And I don’t. I don’t have a back yard, I don’t have a balcony, and I don’t have usable space on the property that’s at least 10 feet from the house, the minimum requirement in New York and a key reason few city dwellers get to grill. Legally, anyway. Ten feet from your building, you’re probably on the sidewalk.)

I love cast iron. I’m pretty sure I’ve nattered before about how much I love cast iron, but please indulge me for a moment. It’s great stuff! It’s robust–this pan is not going to be worn out any time soon. Its solid structure enables high and steady heating, which means a good sear, good predictable cooking, and good control. It requires careful cleaning, but that’s not difficult. It’s even reputed to increase the level of iron in one’s diet, though I’ve never been especially worried about that. (But some years ago when I had an elective surgery I avoided transfusion by taking iron supplements for a period before and after the procedure, and can I just say, the digestive side effects were not enjoyable. So a pan is better.)

I tried it out tonight with chicken thighs. I rubbed them with a spice mixture, heated and lightly oiled the grill pan, and grilled them for about 15 minutes per side. YUM.

The pan was a bit messy afterward.

But it cleaned up beautifully. This picture is AFTER the mess picture, by less than five minutes.

I shredded up one of the leftover thighs to top salad for tomorrow’s lunch:

This weekend I got it into my head to make an angel food cake. I don’t really know why. And I realized, I’d never made one before; my mom used to make them often when I was young, because that was my dad’s favorite cake, but I had never followed suit. It wasn’t my favorite cake; that honor goes to devil’s food. Which I suppose tells you something about me. But this weekend it was my focus, and so I picked a recipe from How to Cook Everything, opted for the chocolate variation (substitute cocoa for a portion of the flour), bought cake flour and eggs, and set to work.

My mother used to tell us that when she and my dad first married, he begged her to make an angel food cake, and so she did. By hand. Beating the egg whites by hand. And she served it up and then told him that if he ever wanted her to make another he was going to have to buy her an electric mixer. He did. This gave me the lingering impression that beating the egg whites was time-consuming and difficult. Even with the mixer he bought her, she felt it was tricky. So I was expecting some challenge, but my own mixer, a Braun model that I picked from a Cook’s Illustrated ranking of hand mixers, was more than up to the task, and in practically no time at all I had glossy soft peaks and then slightly stiff peaks. I slid the pan carefully into the oven and said to myself, “Idiot, why didn’t you take any pictures?”

But here is the pan cooling (you cool it upside-down so that the cake’s natural inclination to fall a bit doesn’t succeed):

And here is the cake as I extricate it from the pan:

And here it is in its glory:

And here it is minus a few slices.

It tasted great.

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