Grilling goes flat: Griddles becoming popular in outdoor cooking
One of the most popular things to cook is smash burgers, flattened by a press or spatula to make a thinner hamburger patty.
BRAINERD — A flat-top grill can bring diner-style cooking to homes — or maybe more precisely, behind the home.
When looking for advances in outdoor cooking, new styles and new technology often surround the industry. Outdoor flat-top griddles are the newest trend to fall into the category.
“Flat-top griddles kind of seem to follow the trend after pellet smokers,” said Alan Larrimore, manager of The Smokestack BBQ Supply Store Brainerd. “So, pellet smokers, I feel like we saw them take off during the COVID pandemic.”
Larrimore said there are a lot of recipes to check out through plenty of videos online and on social media to go along with outdoor cooking’s newest phase.
Pam Vogt, assistant manager of Brainerd Ace Hardware, said Blackstone griddles have been around for a few years but the popularity of and demand for outdoor griddles has grown. She said she only had one Traeger Flatrock griddle in the store.
“Blackstone’s have been popular for quite a while,” Vogt said. “The Traeger Flatrock’s just came out and they are getting a little bit more popular than the Blackstone's right now.”
Flat-top griddles are a fantastic way to make breakfast in a hurry, Larrimore said.
“There are lots of fun ways to get creative with your breakfast,” Larrimore said. “There's molds so you can make teddy bears and dinosaur-shaped pancakes for the kids. Fried-up bacon, fantastic on this thing. I mean, you can just knock out a back of bacon in a hurry.”
One of the most popular items people ask Larrimore about is cooking smash burgers. Smash burgers are made by placing a loose ball of ground beef on a griddle and smashing it into the griddle with a press or spatula to form a thinner hamburger patty.
“Smash burgers are one of the biggest things folks asked about,” Larrimore said. “So griddle presses are kind of a necessity or must-have accessory with these things.”
For those looking to expand some of their cooking ideas, Dave Stoegbauer, an employee at Von Hanson Meats of Baxter, said he would recommend cooking a steak with some fat around the edges, such as a porterhouse or a ribeye, as a griddle gives the meat a nice crust. And for those with a barbecue, Stoegbauer says to grab a thicker cut of meat for a nice reverse-seared steak.
For those who are new to griddle cooking, Larrimore said seasoning the cooking surface before cooking is important, the same as someone would when using a cast iron skillet.
One of the brands Larrimore sells, Camp Chef, comes pre-seasoned, though he still recommends washing the surface before using it the first time. He also recommends a cover as they need to be kept clean and dry.
“I would recommend a really nice set of spatulas, some spray bottles to put some water in to help cleanup after,” Larrimore said. “Griddle scrapers so you can scrape off any food that may have gotten stuck on there and then the griddle press, are my must-have accessories.”
For those who are tight on space, Larrimore said they have a skillet insert from Outfitters Edge.
“They are a Minnesota based company in Prior Lake, Minnesota,” Larrimore said. “They make these nice skillet inserts. So if you're limited on space for grills and you want a flat-top griddle but you already have a pellet grill or gas grill and just don't have room on the deck, you can pick one.”
TIM SPEIER, staff writer, can be reached on Twitter @timmy2thyme , call 218-855-5859 or email firstname.lastname@example.org .