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Ask Chef Steve: Grill Pans

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Im confused about grilling pans. I bought one and made red peppers with a tiny bit of olive oil and, well, the house was blue with smoke. Do you have any advice for me before I try again?

Have no fear! Like any new cooking method, it just takes some getting used to.

First off, I prefer nonstick grill pans, with raised ridges that will form grill marks. Heat your grill pan over medium-high heat, drizzle with an oil that can take the heat such as peanut, olive, or coconut. (Certain oils, even healthful ones, break down under high heat and form free radicals.) When you begin to see a light haze (not smoke) over the pan, place the food of your choice gently into the pan. Chicken breast, fresh fish, red meat, tofu steaks, or even vegetables all work well in a grill pan, as do vegetables like the red peppers you tried before.

Season with any of the many premixed spice blends now available such as Italian, Mexican, or Greek. Brown your food, turning it over to mark both sides well. If the ingredient being cooked is thick and requires more time to cook through, such as chicken breast, you can place the grill pan in a 375F (190C) oven uncovered for an additional 5 to 7 minutes.

Chef Steve Petusevsky, a graduate and former instructor of the prestigious Culinary Institute of America, is a nationally syndicated columnist whose writing appears in Natural Health, Fine Cooking, the Los Angeles Times, Food & Wine, and the Chicago Tribune.

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