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grill pan vs. portable grill

I'm having problems deciding between a cast iron grill pan (such as a le creuset or staub) or a small portable propane outdoor grill (such as the cuisinart CGG 200 http://www.amazon.com/dp/B001TOWLTO/r...

)

The motivation is simple: we have a big green egg, which is loved and coddled by my grillmaster husband, but we were thinking of something for not only quicker dinners but smaller surface size. The cost isn't the issue; it's more convenience and quality. I realize if I get the portable grill it's still outdoor cooking, so that has it's advantaged and disadvantages: we live in CA so the weather is good, and it would mean my husband would do 90%+ of the cooking. Indoors would be super quick, never need to worry about the propane running out, but I would be do most of the cooking.

Can anyone give personal experience to recommend one over the other?

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  1. I don't know about the portable propane one. I've owned the Staub grill pan as well as a lodge cast iron grill pan. I don't use them anymore. They were too difficult to clean, took too long to cook the food and could never impart that outdoor grill flavor to the food. I find regular fry pans (either cast iron or carbon steel) do a much better job. They cook the food faster and give it more flavor (more surface area of the food touching the pan results in faster cooking and more caramelized area of food.) Also, in an outdoor grill, not only do you have much higher temperatures hitting the grill than what your cooktop is capable of, but you also get more heat going around the food when you close the cover. Unless you want to finish the food in the oven, you won't get similar results.

    3 Replies
    1. re: sherrib

      ok.. i think you've convinced me: sounds like it's gonna be a propane grill. I'm definitely not interested in trying to duplicate something by going to more effort (finishing in the oven?? no thanks!)

      1. re: rmarisco

        We use a Lodge grill pan in winter mostly for steaks. It does a nice job, but does create a lot of smoke. It works well on burgers, onions and peppers, or grilled buttered french bread toast. Finishing steaks in the oven is just a matter of lifting the pan to a hot oven for a few minutes after searing both sides. Works great and the steaks are excellent.
        GH1618 once shared his method of cleaning by using a chopstick to run down the furrows of the grill pan. It does make cleaning the pan simple. And you are right, the purchase of the Lodge pan is minimal if you want to try it.

        1. re: Cam14

          Although jfood no longer posts here, this is what I've been doing ever since he shared this:

          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6899...

    2. I have a Lodge that I use once in a while. One thing I do think is that this is not a case where spending more gets you a better product -- the $30 Lodge pan is equal to or better than its more expensive cousins. If you do go with the indoor pan, go with the Lodge. You can buy me a drink with the savings.

      1. Definitely the portable grill. I don't think you'd get nearly the same result with a grill pan. Like some others, I haven't used mine in years. CI skillet, yes; grill pan, no.

        1. A grill pan used indoors certainly has the edge for convenience, if you just want a couple of quick hamburgers. That's what I use my de Buyer Mineral grill pan for. I don't understand why, if he can cook a hamburger outdoors, he can't cook one indoors. I (a male) cook all the hamburgers.

          1 Reply
          1. re: GH1618

            nothing to do with being male.... has to do with me being proprietary in our tiny kitchen space!

          2. "Grill" pans are just skillets that put marks on your food.

            They don't remotely produce a product that tastes like it was grilled on a charcoal or gas grill.

            And yes they are hard to clean.

            I gave my LC grill pan away years ago

            3 Replies
            1. re: C. Hamster

              My de B Mineral grill pan is a snap to clean. And it does more than leave marks on the food — it holds the food above the grease. I wipe out the accumulated grease as I cook a burger.

              1. re: C. Hamster

                And by the way, how easy is that propane grill shown above to clean after cooking hamburgers on it? I can see cleaning a charcoal grill being worth it after a cookout for several people. I can't see the advantage for a couple of hamburgers, even if it tastes better on a gas grill.

                1. re: GH1618

                  Who cleans grills every time they use them? I figure the heat burns off all the potential nasties. We cook two of things all the time on our grill.