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Grilled cheese sandwich in my cast iron is cooking unevenly

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I have a Lodge Logic cast iron pan that is seasoned very well. Lately I've been cooking grilled cheese sandwiches, which are supposed to come out great in a cast iron pan, but they're cooking very unevenly. Specifically, the edges of the bread (not just the crust) are almost burnt before the middle of the bread is even toasted. I've tried putting weight on the sandwich to press the whole thing down but that hasn't worked so I guess the heat is simply not reaching certain points on my pan.

I just read this NY Times article that seems to say this is often the case.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/08/din...

So, is there anything I can do about this? I've also tried heating the pan longer before cooking but that hasn't solved it. I want my sandwich to look like the perfect ones in the pictures!

Thanks.

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  1. Guessing on the problem,but the only time that happens here is cook "error".I am in a hurry,fire too hot etc.Slow down,back off on the temperature and take a close look at your choice of "butter" and bread.Both are very fire fussy,char easily.Pratice,if you have a pan that's comfortable you are nearly there.

    1. The unevenness that McGee writes about should burn the middle first - assuming the sandwich is centered over the burner. Note that slow heat did did not help with McGee's cast iron - he still got a hot center.

      In a restaurant grilled cheese is probably cooked on a grill, which heats more evenly (much thicker metal, and a more distributed heat source).

      I suspect that the edges of your sandwich are in closer contact with the pan than the center. If there is a gap between the center bread and the pan it won't toast as fast.

      Moving the sandwich around in the pan can compensate for uneven heating of the pan. Lower heat would give you more time to do this.

      I assume you are buttering the bread before toasting?

      1. (sigh) Such problems! I'm guessing you're using a gas cooktop? Not electric or ceramic, I wouldn't think you'd be using cast iron on those. Perhaps the gas jet (holes) are gummed up with something, creating uneven flame distribution?

        2 Replies
        1. re: moma1bud

          FYI, I use cast iron on my ceramic cooktop and It's worked fine. Probably better than electric. No scratches on my cooktop and I get an even heat in my skillet. I'd much rather have gas, but I've gotta work with what I got for now. :)

          1. re: moma1bud

            Me too, just make sure it has a flat bottom. One of my cast irons has a raised ring on the bottom.

          2. Maybe you aren't buttering the bread evenly. Try melting butter in the pan before adding the unbuttered sandwich. Just take a stick of butter and zig-zag it quickly over the heated pan. It doesn't take much. Be sure to do that again when you flip the sandwich.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Channa

              I would guess it's the type of bread your using and/or you've unevenly buttered the exterior. Try using bacon fat spread evenly on day old (or more) crusty bread. It's sooo good and the bacon fat produces a nice, even crusty crunch. Or, if you don't have bacon fat, butter the bread and add a little oil to the pan and then fry up that sandwich!

              1. re: lynnlato

                Screw butter. use mayo on the outside. its just oil and egg and browns up wonderfully. give it a try.

                1. re: hyde

                  It's easier to spread thin and evenly than butter. Short order cooks probably use the standard melted margarine/butter blend.

            2. It would seem that the article you cited clearly answers your question. a 100 degree difference in heat in different parts of the cast iron?

              1 Reply
              1. re: bnemes3343

                but that 100 degree difference is between the center of the pan, heated by the flame, and the edge, furthest from the heat. The sandwich is burning at the edges, and not at the center. Unless there is a cold spot at the center of the pan that lines up with the center of the sandwich, uneven heating of the pan is not the problem - or at least not the central issue.

                Other variables - diameter of the pan, size of the burner, how many sandwiches at a time.

                Without ignoring the heating pattern of the pan, I'd focus more on the contact between bread and pan. The softer bread at the center may be contracting or even bowing away from the pan.