Half Moon Griddle Grate-Panini Press
31/12/13 Filed in: BGE Tip | Grilling
I recently discovered an unexpected use for the BGE Half Moon Cast Iron Griddle Grate: As a panini press. For the last several years I have been using a sheet pan weighed down by one or more foil wrapped bricks. This method gives you paninis that look like they came off an indoor panini press. But unlike a panini press, this is a two-step process. You must do one side at a time. So you got “grate” results, but it was more work than using and indoor panini press. While I wasn’t actively looking for a better solution, one came to me when I was making a panini recipe from a new cook book.
The last time I had used the BGE Cast Iron Griddle Grate I was using it with the ridged side up. I noticed that the spacing and size of the ridges reminded me of a panini press. This got the wheels spinning in my brain. I had picked up two of these Eggcessories so I would be able to use the flat side and ridged side simultaneously for the same cook. In this case I could use one griddle grate ridged side up below the panini and the other ridges down on top of the panini. Unlike a sheet pan, these cast iron griddle grates aren’t light. In fact it seemed like they weigh more than a brick. So I might be able to skip using the bricks and let the weight of the upper griddle grate do the work.
How did it work? Quite well actually. I preheated the Egg with the griddle grates in it. Once I stabilized it at my desired temperature, I let it go another 30 minutes before adding the food to insure the griddle grates were at the same temp as the grill and well heated. I also shot the surface temperature with an infra red thermometer to make sure the griddle grate was at the proper temperature. I did not put any oil or cooking spray on the griddle grates, but the pan inis were brushed with olive oil to prevent sticking. The paninis were placed on the lower griddle grate and after donning some welders gloves I positioned the upper griddle grate on top of the paninis. After grilling the paninis for the recommended time, I removed the top griddle grate to see how I did. The paninis looked quite good. They might have stayed on for another minute and a brick might have made the grill marks a little deeper, but these paninis were a good proof of concept. The next time I make these I will make these corrections to see what difference it makes, but these paninis were 90 percent of the way there.
That was the good, was there any bad? Not really. The one limitation of this approach is the half moon shape of the griddle grate is not as efficient as a rectangle. This means you aren’t going to fit as many paninis as you would on a rectangular shaped device. Depending on the size of the paninis, you will fit 2 to 3 on the half moon griddle grate. This is still more than you would get on the typical residential type panini press. At some point no matter what the solution, you will just need to do multiple rounds.
If you are a Big Green Egg owner and make a lot of paninis, here is an excuse to pick up a couple Half Moon Cast Iron Griddle Grates. They have all kinds of other uses and for me this was an unexpected bonus.