Choosing the right plancha

Choosing the right plancha

It is the star of the summer. Whether electric, charcoal or gas, the plancha follows you from the kitchen to the garden to feast on healthy and delicious dishes. Seduced by this method of cooking? Follow our advice to choose it well: material, size, energy …

In recent years, it has become the star of gardens, almost to the point of dethroning the eternal barbecue. Spanish cousin of our pierrade, the plancha is a user-friendly cooking device, which allows you to quickly cook all kinds of food. But there are many different devices behind this name.

Originally the plancha was … a metal plate that we placed on the embers to seize the food. Since its invention, on the ways to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, the materials have evolved, but the method has remained the same.

We speak of cooking “à la plancha” when food cooks on contact with a smooth and very hot plate. A toasted layer is then formed, which protects the heart of the food, without aroma exchange between the different products cooked at the same time. Cooking a la plancha is considered healthy, because it does not require any addition of fat.

La plancha has seduced the French for more than a decade

Like barbecue, the plancha is associated with a notion of seasonality. It is of course linked to holidays, sunny days, terraces or gardens. For Sophie Grasser-Gloeckler, digital training manager at Riviera & Bar, “it is a product that can be used on a daily basis, as soon as we break the idea that it is reserved for certain preparations – such as cooking meats and sausages which stick to your skin! – or the only times with friends when the sun is shining. The winter variations are just as tempting, the month of December is also the second highlight of the year, after that of spring, for the purchase of planchas! “

A success that is growing year by year thanks to three major assets, “the first being its great versatility and its image of diet cooking mode, cooking with very little fat, which preserves the taste of food and is carried out without the development of smoke; the second being his ease of use ; and maintenance and the last the breadth of the offer available on the market “.

La plancha, a matter of size

Choose the right size plancha © Lagrange

Planchas come in all sizes and almost all shapes. There are, however, three main types of planchas: simple, portable and trolleys. Your choice will depend on the desired seating capacity, as well as the space you have to store it. The simple plancha consists of a plate that is placed on a heat source: stove, barbecue …

With or without trolley

The portable planchas integrate their own source of energy, electric or gas. They are placed on a table or on any other support, and can therefore be stored in a minimum of space. You can also install them on an existing outdoor kitchen.

The planchas on trolley, they are built into a fairly large rolling service, to be reserved, therefore, in the largest storage rooms. Some planchas are also equipped with a protective cover, which allows you to leave it outside.

From one to three burners

There are planchas with a width of 30 to 90 cm, that is to say a capacity of 4 to 16 people approximately. Check the number of burners carefully: the larger the plancha, the more burners it must have, in order to heat quickly and evenly. Be careful, however, not to overestimate the size of your plancha: the larger the plate, the longer it will take to heat up. However, it must be very hot to sear the food. Choosing it larger than necessary is therefore to waste time but also overconsume energy.

For the plancha, to each cook, his material

Choosing the right material for a perfect firing © ENO

Steel, stainless steel, raw or enameled cast iron, non-stick coating … Far from the original sheet, the plancha has been modernized, and the materials have followed. Depending on your cooking habits – and your patience for maintenance – here are some tips for choosing the ideal plancha.

The most efficient materials are those that have the best thermal inertia. The melting comes out on top because it retains heat longer, followed by thick steel and coated aluminum.

Maillard’s reaction

As we have said, cooking a la plancha consists of searing food over high heat. At a certain temperature, a chemical reaction takes place, called the Maillard reaction, named after its inventor: on contact with heat, the surface “grates” and turns brown, because the sugars interact with the amino acids, to give its unique taste to the product. Be careful, however, not to sear the vegetables and fruits too much, which will then lose some of their vitamins.

Plancha: which heat source to choose?

A charcoal plancha © Barbecook

Electric, gas or charcoal plancha, a tough choice? Not necessarily, because it depends on your use, the place of cooking and the number of people at the table.

  • The electric plancha. “The first advantage of the electric plancha is its great simplicity of installation, use and its safe image, precisely because it is electric: all you have to do is connect it to a grounded outlet for it to work, without ‘worrying about knowing if you have gas in reserve, without having to handle a cylinder or check that it is properly combustion … “estimates Sophie Grasser-Gloeckler of Rivera & Bar.

It also has the advantage of being able to be used indoors as well as outdoors. “In exchange for a slightly lower and slower rise in temperature than with a gas supply, the electric will on the other hand allow a more precise adjustment of the temperature, thanks to the manually adjustable thermostats, as long as they cover a wide temperature range and that the plate coating limits inertia ”.

  • Gas planchas. They are usually available on a trolley, the bottom storage is then reserved for the gas cylinder. Its use is here strictly reserved for the outside as for the barbecue. Cooking with a gas plancha must be high (over 300 ° C). As with the electric model, food is preserved from flames and the burning of charcoal.
  • Charcoal models are mainly barbecues to which we add a plancha plate. For this handset, it is better to opt for an accessory in cast iron, enamelled cast iron or ceramic.

Should you buy a mixed plancha or a simple plancha?

Grill or plancha? And why not both ? It all depends on the space you have, but also on the device that will best meet your expectations. “The model depends on the food to be cooked and the visual and taste result that you want to obtain. A plancha plate, with a uniform and full heating surface, will allow delicate foods or foods cut into fine pieces to be cooked perfectly. eggs, stewing and even making pancakes or cookies! The grill plate, with its grooved surface, will allow the user to obtain these famous streaks on the food Lovers of meat and fish steaks particularly appreciate this aspect “explains Sophie Grasser-Gloeckler.

The combination of the 2 types of plates in a single product thus allows all preparations, especially if the plates have independent thermostats and the temperature ranges are numerous. In conclusion, ask yourself the question of the use you want to make of it and choose the quality of the material which constitutes the plates (stainless steel, cast iron or enamelled cast iron, enamelled steel …).

How much does a plancha cost?

How much does a plancha cost? © Riviera & Bar

The price of a plancha depends of course on its size, but also on its shape and its material.

An electric plancha is a device with a good quality / price ratio. It is composed of a non-stick coating such as Teflon® (Simeo, Tefal, Kenwood), steel (Lagrange, Cuisinart) or stainless steel (Riviera & Bar). Prices start at around € 30 for a power of between 1,500 and 2,000 W, and can climb up to € 500 for models with a stainless steel coating and a power of 3,000 W.

Count 200 to 300 € for a model of plancha in steel, or enamelled cast iron of about 50 cm without serving and with a burner. Some models can go up to 1,500 euros, for very large widths (90 cm) with three burners.

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