Cast Iron Grills with Satin Black Enamel
Le Creuset Satin Black enamel provides a very tough and durable surface for cooking and cleaning. Like all Le Creuset enamels it is tough enough to last the lifetime of the product and will not wear or rub off. It has excellent, easy food release properties, which are enhanced once a natural surface patina develops. It is not a non-stick surface and Le Creuset makes no claims otherwise, but, once the patina covers the cooking surface the release of foods improves such that little, or no, fats or oils are required. It therefore can provide health benefits for a low fat diet.
Cooking advantages of Satin Black Enamel
Satin Black enamel has a smooth satiny feel to it, but it is not as glossy or smooth as other lighter enamel finishes. It has been especially designed for high “surface” temperature cooking – which is not the same as simply using a piece on a high heat, which can be very detrimental. With cast iron, high surface temperatures can be achieved by allowing any piece to heat through evenly on a medium setting on any stove top. See tip for testing the surface temperature under “Instructions for use”.
When placed on high surface temperatures, many foods cling a little to the hot surface and at the same time release sugars which caramelise on their exterior. This, in turn, produces the delicious sear lines on grilled foods, or the slightly crusty outside to a wonderfully seared steak. This process is easy to achieve on satin black but is not quite so easy to achieve on lighter coloured, very glossy enamels, which can also discolour when higher surface temperatures are used regularly. These, however, have the benefit of providing an excellent surface for so many everyday cooking tasks and recipes and as result appear on a wide range of shapes.
Satin black enamel has been proven to be better for searing such foods as steaks, chicken, or fish and whilst in use it produces its own surface “patina”. This patina takes the form of a brownish black “film” over the cooking surface. It is the result of the baking on of oils and fats from the foods, as well as any additional greasing that may be given to the surface before cooking begins. Eventually the patina will cover the whole cooking surface giving enhanced release of foods and greatly reduced amounts of pre-greasing or oiling. The patina should be recognised as an advantage on the surface and not surface soiling. The pan can still be given a hot soapy wash, but it should not be scoured. In the same way the pan can be washed in the dishwasher, but this will reduce the build up of the patina, so it will take longer for the surface, and its low fat cooking benefits, to be produced.
In the kitchen satin black can be used for a wide variety of recipes including egg dishes, pancakes, stir fry recipes and more. If it is intended to be used for more delicate foods such as omelettes or crêpes an improved release performance will be achieved after the pan has been in use a few times and the patina has started to appear.
Before First Use
Remove any labels or packaging and wash the pan in hot soapy water, rinsing and drying it thoroughly. The satin black surface does not require seasoning, therefore it is ready for immediate use.
Use only medium and low heat settings, allowing the pan to heat through gradually and evenly. Once the pan or grill is hot a lower temperature will often maintain the correct level of heat.
Match the heat source to the base of the pan. Too large a heat source will overheat pan walls and may cause damage to handles. Too small a heat source does not make best use of efficiency.
Medium or low heat will provide the best results for cooking, including frying and searing. Allow the pan to heat gradually and thoroughly for even and efficient cooking results. Once the pan is hot, almost all cooking can be continued on lower settings.
High heat temperatures should only be used for boiling water for vegetables or pasta, or for reducing the consistency of stocks or sauces. High heats should never be used to preheat a pan before lowering the heat for cooking. Cast iron retains heat so efficiently that overheating will cause food to burn or stick.
Don't pre-heat on high, then lower the heat to medium or low. Cast iron is a very efficient material, retaining heat well. If overheated, it will retain considerable heat for a long period of time and this form of miss-use may contribute to sticking and poor cooking results.
Always add sufficient oil or fat to completely cover the cooking surface. The amount will depend on the food and the pan and how well the patina has developed. Oils and fats provide cooking colour as well as flavour so a little may always be required – a fried egg cannot be achieved without fat to fry it in.
The oil or fat covering the surface is hot enough when it has either, for oil, a gentle ripple in its surface, or, for butter and other fats, a bubbling or foaming across the surface. If either begins smoking, or butter begins browning, it is too hot and should be cooled a little before proceeding. The quickest way to do this is too remove the pan from the heat source for a few moments.
For longer shallow frying and a good colour to the food, a mixture of oil and butter gives excellent results.
For any deep fat frying in a deep pan, the maximum oil level must not exceed a 1/3rd full – this depth allows the correct height above the oil for it to bubble up once foods are added. A deep fat oil frying thermometer should be used for safety and a lid should be available in case of oil overheating or flaring.
Grilling or Searing on a Ribbed or Flat Surface
Only a small amount of oil or fat will be required. A little brushed or sprayed over the hot surface is usually sufficient. Once the patina is produced cooking with any oil or fat will be greatly reduced and can almost be fat free, with perhaps just a little oil being brushed over the food just before cooking begins.
This instruction, to pre-heat an empty pan, is specific to grills, grillets or skillets and does not apply to any other shapes. The global care and use instructions should be followed for these. For correct grilling and searing it is very important that the cooking surface is sufficiently hot before cooking begins. Sear lines from ribbed grills will not be produced if the pan surface is too cool, or the food is too wet (see food tips below)
Place the empty pan on a medium heat and allow it to heat for several minutes. Do not add oil to the cold pan otherwise, as the pan heats, it may be the oil that becomes too hot and smokes.
Take a few drops of water on your fingers and scatter these over the hot surface. If they sizzle and evaporate almost immediately it is hot and ready for use. If the water produces steam and has no sizzle, heat the pan for a little longer and repeat the water test again.
When the surface is hot enough oil lightly, using an oil spray or brush with oil using a Le Creuset silicone basting brush.
For distinct sear lines leave the food undisturbed on the surface for several minutes. If the food is moved too quickly the lines will be poor and steam from the food may be released on to the surface.
Any food for grilling or searing must be quite dry before it is placed on the hot surface. Wet foods will not achieve good sear lines and may result in a very steamed cooked appearance and flavour.
Use kitchen paper towels to pat off excess natural surface moisture from foods. Oil can then be brushed over the food if wished.
Foods that have been in a marinade should also have excess moisture removed with paper towels.
Oils and Fats
For grilling and searing vegetable, corn or groundnut oils will give excellent results. Olive, or other flavoured oils, are wonderful for the flavour they give to food, but each has quite a low smoking point, so these should not be used for brushing on to hot flat or ribbed surfaces. Instead they can be brushed over the food just before cooking, or used in a marinade. Butter or other fats can be used for omelettes, eggs, crêpes or fish dishes where their flavour will improve the cooked result.
Cleaning and Care
Always cool any pan for a few minutes before washing.
When possible rinse the pan in hot water and wipe over the surface with a damp cloth. This may be possible if the pan is used for regular cooking of foods where the food residues are minimal.
For more thorough washing use hot soapy water, then rinse and dry thoroughly.
To remove stubborn or sticky residues fill the pan with warm water and leave to soak for 10-15 minutes. Wash rinse and dry in the usual way.
Allow the brownish black patina to build over the cooking surface as this greatly enhances the cooking and release performance of foods from the surface. A washing up brush can be useful to remove small food deposits, or for cleaning between ribs. Do not use any scourers or abrasive cleaners on the cooking surface.
Exterior marks, such as burnt on fat deposits, can be lightly scoured using a nylon pad, or can be cleaned off with regular use of the Le Creuset Pots and Pans cleaner.
All metal handled pans can be washed in the dishwasher but this greatly reduces the build up of the patina. For grills and skillets, in particular, this will result in continued longer use of oil or fat for cooking. Always allow a dishwasher cycle to complete before opening the door. An incomplete cycle retains moisture in the machine and damage to the pan may occur.