I own a family griddle. It’s a flat piece of cast iron, quite heavy, with a wooden handle in a metal socket riveted to one side. There is a slight rim around the edge, to keep melted grease from running off. (You never pour large amounts of oil on to a griddle: you grease it, and wipe it off after use.) I don’t know how old it is: I inherited it from an elderly cousin who died a few years ago.
This week’s Tuesday Recipe Blogging is inspired by this video at Ezra Klein’s, in which Barack Obama (then a very junior state senator) extols the virtues of Dixie Kitchen, and warns of the dangers of corn cakes.
Which are griddle cakes: there’s a shot of someone cooking them. Sure, you could fry them, if you don’t have a griddle. Different technique, though. Frying is cooking something in hot oil – even a shallow fry is the process of heating oil until it is hot enough to cook whatever you have put in the oil.
Griddle cooking uses grease only to keep whatever you put on the griddle from sticking to it. What cooks the food is the heat from the metal: a cake placed on a griddle is cooked through from the bottom up, and you turn it over only briefly to brown the top side (if you want). It’s a very basic kind of cooking. I have cooked popadoms and chapattis, oatcakes and drop scones and singin’ hinnies, tortillas and tacos, on my griddle. All of them are made with some basic combining of ground grains, water, fat, and flavour.