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View Full Version : MEAT COOKING: Grill vs. Plancha vs. Range Top



ams
05-28-2012, 02:16 PM
I've seen many different types of kitchen where the general cookery of meats is done on a grill, on a plancha or on a range top burner in a pan (either a heavy bottomed pan or a general saute pan). Most traditional lines that I've seen use a grill, newer and more upscale restaurants seem to use planchas (going with that new fad of supposedly flat tops giving the best sear) and good French and Italian kitchens seem to cook their meats on the range top (hence their "saute" cooks are usually quite skilled since they do most of the cooking).

Each method has their pro's and cons and I like them all for different reasons. People love the taste of a traditional grill and those diamond grill marks, although they are very hot and can be a PITA to clean depending on what model or how old your grill is. Plus grill heavy restaurants are always looking for grill cooks since they get burned out faster. Planchas give that distinctive flat top sear and are versatile in that different things can be cooked on the same station (IE you can cook buttered buns and burgers on different sections and can also do a faux saute of sorts for things like shrimp and certain veggies) but people tend to over rely on the plancha and sometimes foods will taste different if the oil or juices from different sections run off into each other (I've had a burger taste faintly of seafood one time). Range tops give a good sear and are good for finishing a steak or other piece of meat with butter (glorious!) and can have the added benefit of finishing cooking in the oven (especially helpful for large pieces of meat, bone in stuff and duck breasts). However, they are harder to get meat temperatures right since your saute cooks are doing a lot at one time and getting the right sear is more difficult hence sometimes over-seared or under seared meats.


If you were opening a restaurant from scratch which one of these methods would you use for meat cookery and why?

obtuse
05-28-2012, 02:20 PM
I think you need all three because together you have versatility.

Crothcipt
05-28-2012, 04:39 PM
All 3 are considered when opening, and usually are used too. Don't forget about deep frying either. You can cook just about anything in a deep fryer.

ams
05-28-2012, 08:41 PM
I'm talking about specifically cooking meats tender enough to use a dry heat method like steaks, burgers, chicken breasts etc. You certainly wouldnt use a deep fryer nor would you use all 3 methods. You wouldnt cook steaks on a plancha then burgers on a grill and lamb chops on a range top in the same kitchen.

Deckhand
05-28-2012, 09:12 PM
If I was investing in a restaurant I would experiment with methods to find out which one would fit my style best before making a big investment. I would probably try sous vide with grilling. Perfect doneness and more tender with aesthetic grill marks. Probably wood charcoal for additional flavoring. As previously mentioned by you a good pan sear with butter is also quite tasty, but I prefer a little smoke flavor and grill marks and can melt butter on it when I do that. Only you know what will make you proud and happy to serve for the style of restaurant you are trying to create.

ajhuff
05-28-2012, 09:26 PM
I had to look up plancha. Flat top, got it. It depends on what kind of restaurant.

I cook burgers on the charbroiler (what you are calling grill I think) then move them to the flat top (what you are calling plancha I think) to melt the cheese. Chopped steak I start on the charbroiler and finish in the oven. Range top I only do things in pots: soups, caramelized onions, etc. Almost every order gets a deep fried something as a side. I am working on a deep fried cheese burger by the way.

I don't think you can seriously open any restaurant without all 3 + a deep fryer + an oven.

-AJ

Vertigo
05-28-2012, 09:46 PM
I'm talking about specifically cooking meats tender enough to use a dry heat method like steaks, burgers, chicken breasts etc. You certainly wouldnt use a deep fryer nor would you use all 3 methods. You wouldnt cook steaks on a plancha then burgers on a grill and lamb chops on a range top in the same kitchen.

Deep frying is a dry heat method of cooking. And if I was opening a restaurant, I would most definately have all three at my disposal. Forced to choose, I'd take a row of gas burners over anything else though.

Andrew H
05-28-2012, 11:40 PM
I'm talking about specifically cooking meats tender enough to use a dry heat method like steaks, burgers, chicken breasts etc. You certainly wouldnt use a deep fryer nor would you use all 3 methods. You wouldnt cook steaks on a plancha then burgers on a grill and lamb chops on a range top in the same kitchen.

I don't see why you wouldn't. I would probably go with a range if I had to choose one, assuming you also get an oven with the range. You can cook pretty much anything in a pan, not true for a grill. I could see a flat top being useful but messy.
Grill marks are nice but a butter crust is better.

Deckhand
05-29-2012, 01:32 AM
On a more serious note. A long long time ago when I worked in kitchens. We had the basics, range,grill,fryers,ovens. Walk in refrigerator and freezer. Other things are nice if you have the budget, but better have the necessary stuff. My real recommendation is pm guys like Salty,Chef Niloc, sachem"son",tkern,johnny chance,etc. and ask for their advice. Certainly, not trying to slight anyone not on this list, or the thread poster.

Crothcipt
05-29-2012, 01:37 AM
You can get flat top, and grills for over the top of burners too. I have never priced them, but have used them a few times. What it comes down to is what are you wanting to serve? Then go from there. If you are only wanting 1 then oven and burners.

Eamon Burke
05-29-2012, 01:46 AM
Range Top, all the way.




Grills are boring. I say barbeque or cook.

And Plancha is for short order, IMO.

JohnnyChance
05-29-2012, 06:31 AM
Depends on your menu, your style of food, size of your restaurant, size of your kitchen and budget.

You need some burners/range top in most places. Don't have the control with the other 2 not to have one. During prep these see the most use because you can have six (or however many burners you have) things cooking, each at their own temperature. Not great for cooking fish and steaks in a pan because of the open flame, but doable. During service you are now limited to six (or whatever) items at once.

Plancha/flat top griddle is nice because you can fit as many items as you can on it, not limited to 1 item per pan per burner. Temperature control is limited, I wouldn't be doing fish or steaks on one in a high end place. Great if you serve lunch or brunch.

A combination of the first two items, referred to by some as a french top range is nice to have. Like a flat top but with heavy duty cast iron as the surface (as opposed to stainless usually found on the flats) that also gets much hotter, too hot to cook directly on. Great for cast iron or carbon pans, but they have to be flat for plenty of contact. Using a variety of size cast iron pans, you can fit more pans/items in a space normally fitting 6 burners. No open flame means no flare ups or flame jumping into the pan, making your fish and steaks taste like gasoline. Still good for prep, less heat control than burners, as they are usually on full blast all the time.

Grill is a grill. Probably a little more versatile than the flat top, but if you need grilled items, hey, only way to get it. People love those grill marks.


I would use a combo of burners and french top and then based on my menu choose a grill or a flat top/plancha. Or both if I had the room.

SpikeC
05-30-2012, 01:21 PM
If you are ever going to serve people who have allergies pans are mandatory. I have had to walk out of places that cooked shellfish on the same surface as everything else.

tweyland
07-04-2012, 11:25 AM
I'm talking about specifically cooking meats tender enough to use a dry heat method like steaks, burgers, chicken breasts etc. You certainly wouldnt use a deep fryer nor would you use all 3 methods. You wouldnt cook steaks on a plancha then burgers on a grill and lamb chops on a range top in the same kitchen.

Generally, I prefer a wood burning grill for meats because it adds flavor. But it requires a pretty serious grill cook. As others have said, it depends on the menu. Yes, usually most meats come from one station, but you could design the menu to take advantage of the benefits of each method, as well as divide up the load of the number of entrees/proteins that come from each station (for work flow purposes). Also depends also on your menu mix, i.e., the proportions of each you expect to sell. Seems like you have a handle on the pluses and minuses of each method. These days, allergies and sensitivities are more of an issue, which is a negative for the flattop/plancha.


I know a place that had 10 burners and a flattop, then replaced and expanded to 18 burners, no flattop, but 2 burners always have a cast iron grill plate and they gained ovens underneath the burners. Worked for them.

Good luck!

brainsausage
07-04-2012, 01:36 PM
I'm talking about specifically cooking meats tender enough to use a dry heat method like steaks, burgers, chicken breasts etc. You certainly wouldnt use a deep fryer nor would you use all 3 methods. You wouldnt cook steaks on a plancha then burgers on a grill and lamb chops on a range top in the same kitchen.

We use all three at my restaurant. All are effective for different reasons. I personally prefer my burgers on the plancha. Better sear, easier to get a consistent/even temp.

Chefdog
08-10-2012, 02:52 PM
I'm talking about specifically cooking meats tender enough to use a dry heat method like steaks, burgers, chicken breasts etc. You certainly wouldnt use a deep fryer nor would you use all 3 methods. You wouldnt cook steaks on a plancha then burgers on a grill and lamb chops on a range top in the same kitchen.

I respectfully disagree. I certainly would, and have, cooked different meats using different methods at the same time on the same line. Actually I think it's neccessary if you want to get the best out of your product. But, if I had to pick one exclusively it would definitely be a couple good cast iron skillets. Almost anything can be cooked well in a pan, which can't be said about a grill or flat-top.

I also think that unless you're using hardwood or charcoal, there's no reason to grill. Sure it takes time to train a grill cook to maintain an 800*F wood-burning grill properly, but the flavor of burgers, steak, whole fish, prawns, octopus etc. is miles ahead of just getting some grill marks over a gas burner. YMMV, IMHO etc.

Mucho Bocho
08-10-2012, 03:08 PM
Sous Vide then a quick pan sear is my favorite and Chuck Roasts are my favorite cut of meat now as a result.

http://i1051.photobucket.com/albums/s426/dennismpintoii/chuck.jpg

sachem allison
08-11-2012, 01:21 AM
You wouldnt cook steaks on a plancha then burgers on a grill and lamb chops on a range top in the same kitchen.[/QUOTE]
actually, I have in most of the kitchens I have worked in. in exactly that order

brainsausage
08-11-2012, 03:21 AM
You wouldnt cook steaks on a plancha then burgers on a grill and lamb chops on a range top in the same kitchen.
actually, I have in most of the kitchens I have worked in. in exactly that order[/QUOTE]

+1.

chuck239
08-11-2012, 06:11 AM
I'm talking about specifically cooking meats tender enough to use a dry heat method like steaks, burgers, chicken breasts etc. You certainly wouldnt use a deep fryer nor would you use all 3 methods. You wouldnt cook steaks on a plancha then burgers on a grill and lamb chops on a range top in the same kitchen.

In my kitchen we use 3. Wood burning grill for lamb and burgers. Broiler for ribeyes and filets. And a cast iron plancha for tri tip. Same goes with fish, different preparations and cooking methods for different flavors and textures.

-Chuck

ecchef
08-11-2012, 10:02 AM
And Plancha is for short order, IMO.

:D Plancha. It's amazing how the old workhorse of every diner became so trendy when it got a new name.

hax9215
08-12-2012, 01:12 AM
:D Plancha. It's amazing how the old workhorse of every diner became so trendy when it got a new name.

+1

Hax the Cook CLEAVERS RULE!!! :D

Kriegs
09-22-2012, 02:33 PM
:D Plancha. It's amazing how the old workhorse of every diner became so trendy when it got a new name.

and another +1

As far as methods, I tend to prefer a flat top or pan for most meats because of the sear. Some things, such as skirt steak and pork loins, tend to taste better with a good char from the grill IMO.

You could also go extra trendy and opt for a hibachi to throw some marks on whatever you just took out of the circulator (this applies to sears from pans/planchas as well).

wallawally
09-23-2012, 02:17 AM
If I was opening a restaurant it would be with a wood grill, 2 or 3 range tops and a few immersion circulators. But I would hate not having a flat top if I ever needed to do a catered event.

Lefty
09-24-2012, 07:50 AM
Grill, range, oven.

Pan sauces are a necessity and a properly pan seared, "baked steak" (range and oven) with proper seasoning, finished with an herb butter and jus will honestly blow away any grilled steak. However, the option is always nice, and, in my opinion, flank steak at 700*, cooked on a grill, Chicago Rare is one of life's small miracles.

I hate flat-tops and often end up tasting the rendered, then congealed fat that builds up underneath the food item, making food taste greasy or old. This is especially tru on froze items (don't act like the restaurants you've worked in never uses frozen). Believe it of not, skill is hugely important for flat-top cooking, and I think many owners forget this fact. You can hide issues caused by flat-tops, but why not avoid them altogether?

A wood-fired pizza oven isn't only for pizza, either, so I'd have one in my restaurant if I could afford it.