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Help! Why is it smoking so much!

Hi! Just found this site, because I cannot find this info anywhere! I just bought a cast iron grill for the stove top (u kno the kind, it covers both burners) anyways one side is flat, the other is grooved. Well I made bacon and eggs the first time on the flat side, then hamburgers and corn the second time on the grooved side. Well what a MESS! The eggs were fine, and the bacon (It was irish bacon) smoked so much, more smoke in my small apt. I have ever seen. Also, with the hamburgers, the corn was fine. Both the meats were delicious, but I cannot use the grill again, because the smoke was unbearable...anyway

It was a pretty simple set...came with one care instruction...

Grease it with veg. oil, and bake in over for an hour or something like that.

I thought it was weird yet did it anyway. Well I loooove this grill , but what should I do!?! Is it the quality of the grill or do I need to do something...The smoke is sooooooo bad!

Help !!!!

Thanks :)

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  1. You have encountered THE dilemma that surrounds the "flippable" griddle/grill combos -- different techniques/different temperatures unnaturally wedded to ONE pan.

    For me the better solution is two pans, but that does not mean you can't adjust your technique.

    For starters the "basic care instructions" are a bit too basic. You really ought to start by scrubbing the holy heck out of BOTH sides of the pan. The griddle side is ususally pretty smooth, but the grill side is often quite yucky -- you might have to break out the heavy duty steel wool and/or sandpaper to really get that side gleaming. Then you must coat the surface with a fat and bake that fat onto the metal. The idea is that the baked-on fat is the basis for a sealed surface that will protect the pan from rusting and eventually become a non-reactive sort of non-stick surface. The choice of fat is important. Oils with higher smoking points with be capable of cooking at a higher temperature without smoking away. Check out the list here: http://www.cookingforengineers.com/ar...
    If you use any oil with a smoking point lower than that that of pure refined soybean oil you are wasting your time. If you have to buy a fresh bottle of oil it is worth tracking down the REFINED avocado oil. If you use anything else you will NOT have a grill side that is hot enough to do much searing at all. BTW when you bake on that oil it is important that it be baked out pretty close to the smoking point of the oil and baked on until dryness. That means a LOOONG time, like probably 4 hours minimum, better overnight.

    Ok so now you have a CLEAN, pan with a baked-on oil that MIGHT have a smoking point of about 475 degrees or so. What sorts of things can you cook and how? Well for the griddle side you are fine with pancakes and such, as you really won't need a temp over maybe 425, ditto for eggs, which come out nicely at even lower temperatures. As for bacon, I suppose it depends how thick and lean it is, but you should be ok at those temps. Afteral, the smoking oint of lard is 370, so you'd get smoking above that, but that is not really related to the pan (unless you flipped it over mid meal??)
    The problem is for stuff like griddle cooked burgers -- 500 is probably what you need for that nice griddle 'crust' and you are going to have a hard time getting that with out trashing the coating that you've laid down. That is why commercial griddles are steel, not cast iron. Live and learn.

    On the grill side (with the griddle side exposed to the flame/heat) is where the real problems happen. The pan will smoke IF heated over the smoking point of the fat. That is likely to happen if you try and preheat the pan on high (which is typically what one does with a grill). SO you have to instead reduce the temperature that you use for preheating and INCREASE the preheat time. A LOT if you want nice charred grill marks! But remember, eventually that flame will spot heat the griddle side SO you can't just "let it go" or you will burn off the coating. You want to preheat that thing to just about the exact smoke point and then put on all the food you have to drop the temp below the smoke point and simultaneously increase the flame so that the high grilling temp is preserved. Tricky. Using a non-contact type thermometer makes it a bit more repeatable, but it is not essential if you practice.

    After each use you must completely scrap away any bit of foods that adhere to the pan or they will burn like the dickens when exposed to the flame (I suspect this what you encountered). After scrapping down the surface (which is another reason that initial scrubbing/smoothing is vital) you can wipe the the pan down, but do not use soap or soak the pan or all the baked on fat is going to break down and you have to redo the whole scour and bake cycle.

    In a nutshell -- prep is super important, temperature control is vital, and on-going care gets easier and easier.

    Good Luck!

    2 Replies
    1. re: renov8r

      Thankyou sooo much!! I am going to think about what to do...I may just buy a smaller grill, if cleaning/baking it does not help! The sad part is the burgers were soooo good!

      Thanks again!

      1. re: renov8r

        What is the difference (if any) between 'unrefined safflower oil' (225), 'refined safflower oil' (450) and 'safflower oil' (510 degrees). Specifically, what is just 'safflower oil'?

      2. IMHO, all the grill pans will smoke when the liquids thrown off by your food drop down into the superheated lower surface, hot because the grill needs to be very hot to make the grill marks. The grill presses like George Foreman and the panini presses drain off the liquids, and with their NS cooking surfaces and limited temperature range produce very little smoke. Try a panini grill, I have the Delonghi, or get a professional hood if you insist on your stove top grill pan. I think the TV cooking shows have done a big disservice by failing to show the smoke thrown off by the grill pans. This is one reason why the grill is outside.

        4 Replies
        1. re: dijon

          I agree with you about this. I really don't have sufficient kitchen ventilation (mine is downdraft) to do this for large quantities of food, so for a bigger dinner, I move it outside.

          1. re: dijon

            I'll second that point. "Small Apt." sounds like there is zero ventilation. hweber0, I'm not talking about some dinky little fan that simply blows the air back in your face, I'm talking about a through-the-roof ventilation system, which you very likely don't have. You did everything right, it's just your apartment that sucks... Unfortunately renov8r didn't think that through and ended up typing a very informative message, but it will positively NOT help you in his situation.

            1. re: HaagenDazs

              You might very well be correct -- I did focus on the challenges of using a flippable grill/griddle while there is a strong possibility that the problem is the very nature of contact grilling.

              ThaT said, the tips I gave have worked for me in helping to minimize excess smoke.

              1. re: renov8r

                I know I'm correct - and you're missing the point. It doesn't take cooking with cast iron to get smoke, throw a pork chop on a stainless steel pan over high heat and you'll get smoke and lots of it.

          2. I love my cast iron grill even though it is really hard to clean. I use the grill side all the time, and I decided NOT to use the flat griddle side because it is nearly impossible to get all of the oily residue off that surface. That residue burns and smokes when put over a flame or electric burner, so I would suggest choosing to use only the grill side so that you will always have a clean side against the burner. I purchased an All Clad griddle -- a bit pricey but really worth it -- for eggs, pancakes etc. It cleans like a dream. So, I have two pans instead of one, but they store flat and I don't have to worry about the gummy side of the allegedly flippable pan burning and making more smoke as a result.

            1. The smoke may have come from the oil you used to cure the ribbed side. You can buy another grill pan and oil the flat side of one and the ribbed side of the other. This way, you'll never have flame in contact with what should be a cured side. If you only want to use the flat side, burn all residue off the ribbed side and make sure that side is not oiled again.