A griddle pan, where the pan’s base has raised ridges, will provide beautiful char marks; unlike the oven, it will flash-fry steaks and veg in no time.
You’ll want something with deep troughs and tall peaks, which provide greater char marks and allow the fat to render into the grooves, ensuring your food isn’t cooked directly in it. Shallower grooves lead to faint char marks, or even none at all, and a greasier end product.
Griddle pans fall into two main categories: cast iron and non-stick, usually on an aluminium base. There are pros and cons to each, though overall we would recommend cast iron griddle pans.
Cast iron pans are usually made of one lump of moulded iron. Some are enamelled, which means they are easier to clean and a little more ‘nonstick’; while others aren’t, and require seasoning (basically they always need to be dried and oiled after use).
Cast iron pans have great heat retention, far better than the nonstick ones, but they take longer to heat up. It’s worth waiting, however, as your steak will cook evenly and quickly once it’s in the pan.
As for the ridges, cast iron pans tend to offer higher ridges than nonstick. This is because nonstick pans are normally made of a sheet of a single aluminium sheet, which can tear or deform if the ridges are too high. As a consequence, cast iron, because it’s hotter and has bigger ridges, provides much better sear marks – look for peaks of about 5mm or more.
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