Product Knowledge Guide: Griddles & Grills

Fast Fact:

A key in purchasing this sort of equipment is determining an operation's volume and recommending a unit with a surface area to match.

Types: Griddles cook foods on a smooth, solid surface with a heat source below. A grill is not a cooking appliance per se. Instead, it is a grid of metal bars that hold food over a heat source. Floor and countertop models are available. Sandwich and panini griddles have also earned a spot in many kitchens.

Capacities/Footprints: Standard griddles range in width from 240 to 720. Tops can range in length from 150 countertop models to 720 floor units, with 200 to 320 of depth. Additional depth is available in half-foot increments.

Energy Source(s): Griddles can run on electricity, gas or propane. Many operators laud gas models for their more even heat distribution. Electric countertop models' energy requirements range from 8 to nearly 33 kph. Gas models generally have a rating of 20,000 to 30,000 Btu per hour per burner.

Manufacturing Method: Operators should select a griddle surface based on the foods they will prepare on them. Choices include cast iron, polished steel, cold-rolled steel and chrome-finished. Some grills and griddles feature grooved plates to provide the seared look customers appreciate on steaks, hamburgers and filets.

Standard Features: Griddles/grills can stand alone or be mounted on refrigerated bases or other pieces of equipment. Many are available with coated heating plates designed to offer a durable, nonstick surface, and adjustable height. A stainless-steel bull nose front for knob protection and nickel-plated die-cast legs offer easy maintenance and dependable performance. Double-wall construction allows installation within 10 of a combustible surface when space is limited. Higher-end models feature a full-depth grease drawer with an anti-splash baffle. An enclosed grease drawer prevents evaporation of cooking by-products into internal components. A stainless-steel griddle body extends a unit's life and assists sanitation. A flame-failure safety device, stainless-steel legs and insulation all come standard on most models. Thermostatic control offered with some models offers quick response to surface temperature change. Accessories can include cutting boards, plate shelves, belly bars, stainless-steel cabinets, insulator bases for mounting on refrigerated bases, adjustable legs, stainless-steel rear and bottom panels, and electronic ignitions requiring 120V connections.

New Features/Technology/Options: One new grill model features an innovative dual surface along with controls that automatically adjust cook times and temperature based on product thickness. This unit's upper and lower grill plates cook both sides simultaneously, reducing cook times by 50 percent. One maker offers an induction griddle that disperses energy equally across the surface. When a cold product is placed on the griddle, the unit immediately compensates by generating more heat in that area, while at the same time maintaining heat levels in the other sections. As a result, this griddle achieves greater energy efficiency, increased throughput, moisture retention and recovery speeds four-times greater than traditional griddles. One maker offers a griddle that uses steam to heat the cook surface, resulting in uniform surface temperatures, near instant heat recovery and complete use of the griddle surface. Another newer griddle, which is geared for smaller operations with inadequate ventilation, offers a device that locks out gas flow to the unit should the flame extinguish. Newer griddle features include aeration baffles located between burners and a full-width rear flue to improve uniform temperatures. “U”-type burners also are strategically located on newer units to provided even heating across the entire griddle surface.

Key Kitchen Applications: Grills/griddles prepare items ranging from breakfast egg dishes, omelets and pancakes to hot sandwiches and hamburgers. Cooking temperature ranges are typically from 150 °F. to 450 °F.

Purchasing Guidelines: A key in purchasing this sort of equipment is determining an operation's volume and recommending a unit with a surface area to match. Along those lines, it is important to recommend a model with even heat distribution, since hot or cold spots, can adversely affect product quality.

Maintenance Requirements: Cooking surfaces should be cleaned at about 150 °F. to 175 °F. Grease troughs must be emptied at least once a day. Connecting cables and controls must also be wiped down frequently. Cleaners work best when they are spread and left on plates for up to 10 minutes before scraping or wiping. All cleanser residue must be wiped off afterward; some chefs use vinegar or lemon juice for this. Electric grills can be cleaned with a griddle stone (alternately known as a brick) or pumice. A stone should be pulled in the same direction as the metal grain during cleaning. Steel wool will scratch a grill's surface and should be avoided. Using ice for faster cooling can warp metal plates, as can placing pans and kettles on top. Griddles should be re-seasoned after use.

Food Safety & Sanitation Essentials: Grills/griddles have some built-in food safety features, such as a 30 to 60 splashguard along the back that keeps food from falling off the cooking surface and catches flying grease. Another is a trough designed to capture food particles and built-up grease. The material out of which a griddle's plate is constructed can affect cleaning, as well. For instance, chrome is easy to clean by using a scraper, water and chemical powder. Frozen food, however, tends to stick to cast iron, and is tougher to get off. Polished and cold-rolled steel are both easier to clean than cast iron.