WHAT IS A CONTACT GRILL?
Used commercial contact grills Australia (commonly called a panini press or panini maker) is a powerful professional appliance which uses a combination of heated plates and pressure to cook food quickly. Available in single or double plate versions, these are highly versatile machines and are perfect for use in restaurants, takeaways, kiosks, cafés and more.VIEW ALL CONTACT GRILLS
CONTACT GRILL PLATES EXPLAINED
Used commercial contact grill Australia
Contact grills work by using powerful elements to heat up cooking plates. As such, each different type of plate has different cooking properties, leading to unique end results.
- Flat Plate Contact Grills maximise the cooking area. As more of the cooking plate is in contact with the food, heat is distributed quickly, leading to faster cooking times.
- Ribbed Plate Contact Grills have two main advantages. Firstly, the channels between the grooves help to draw away food grease and fat, leading to healthier dishes. Secondly, as only part of the cooking plate is touching the food, attractive “branding” lines are left, adding value to steaks, skewers and panini.
- Mixed Plate Contact Grills offer a combination of the two. “Mixed plate” usually refers to a flat lower plate and a ribbed upper plate. This leads to fast cooking and attractive branding lines. However, branding is usually only applied to the top of the food. Some larger contact grills have both flat and ribbed lower plates for maximum cooking versatility.
Grill plates are also available in different materials, again each with unique properties.
- Cast Iron Plates are possibly the most common type thanks to their excellent heat retention. This makes them perfect for busy sites which are constantly cooking. However, cast iron plates require occasional “seasoning” and take longer to heat up than other types.
- Aluminium Plates are perfect for when your grill isn’t on all the time. The plates heat up quickly and are great for rapid transfer of heat to food. As the grill won’t be in constant use, aluminium plate grills tend to be more economical to run.
- Ceramic Plates are a relatively new addition to the line-up. By using infrared elements behind a glass ceramic plate, heat-up times are lightning fast – almost instant. In addition, these plates are incredibly easy to clean and don’t usually suffer from flavour transfer. As a premium product, contact grills with ceramic plates tend to cost more than traditional versions.
CONTACT GRILL FEATURES & OTHER CONSIDERATIONS
Many contact grills look very similar. However, some may have features which could be very useful in your day-to-day kitchen.
- Power: contact grills are available in a wide variety of power outputs and most don’t need hardwiring. As always, the more powerful a grill is, the faster it should heat up and cook food. Some of the most powerful contact grills may require two separate 13 amp plug connections.
- Timers: although you can purchase separate countdown timers, contact grills with built-in timers can be particularly useful to reduce waste, ensuring a uniform finish every time.
- Floating plates: as floating plates sit “naturally” on the food, you’re far more likely to get a consistent cook. Contact grills with standard hinges can sometimes squash uneven food or leave areas overcooked.
- Grease trays: most contact grills have an area where grease and fat are channelled away from the food. Consider how you would empty and clean this after service.
- Energy saving modes: it’s useful to save energy and running costs where possible. Contact grills with energy saving modes are perfect for quieter hours when you don’t want to power down the grill completely.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What’s the difference between a contact grill and a panini press?
Nothing. As contact grills are perfect for cooking panini, they are sometimes called panini makers, but they are just as good at grilling up a full English breakfast or a quick premium beef burger.
What’s the difference between contact grills and griddles?
Contact grills and griddles are very similar. The main difference is that a contact grill usually has a top plate, whereas a griddle cooks just on one side. However, as griddles only have a single plate, they tend to have a larger cooking surface in comparison to contact grills, making them excellent for cooking multiple dishes simultaneously.
What’s the difference between contact grills and salamander grills?
As the name suggests, contact grills cook by direct contact with plates, whereas salamander grills use radiant heat to cook and warm dishes.
Do you need to season contact grills? How?
Contact grills with cast iron plates will require seasoning before use. Its best to check the user manual of each unit, although there is a brief explanation of the process in the how to season your cookware guide.
Why do you need to season cast iron cooking plates?
Seasoning prevents food sticking to cast iron cooking plates. In addition, the seasoning process also protects plates from rusting.
Why is the coating coming off the grill plates?
When a commercial contact grill is advertised as having a cast iron plate, it has just that. A solid piece of cast iron which has been designed especially for constant commercial use. As such, there is no coating.
If you notice small black shards or it appears the plates are degrading, it’s likely that it’s just burnt-on food debris. After a good clean, you can avoid this in the future simply by seasoning the grill well. You can also reduce future cleaning times by using commercial greaseproof paper.