I like to watch movies. Over the past year, I have happily realized that the “Hangout Movie” is a reality. The plot isn’t paramount, but hanging out with your friends on screen and having a good time is. Think of classics like The Big Lebowski Or Jackie Brown. Dazed and confused and… almost everything else by Richard Linklater, for that matter. You are made happier and perhaps even enriched by the time spent with these characters.
With that in mind, I just spent several weeks cooking on what I consider a “griddle.” Known simply as the Weber Griddle, it measures 504 square inches for the three-burner version I tested – which provides plenty of space to cook for six to eight people – or 756 square inches for the four-burner model. For the right person, they can be like a giant canvas to paint or play on. Last year I reviewed a Cuisinart griddle it was just a mediocre performer, although I still loved cooking on it. My sister, an accomplished natural cook, took one look at this Cuisinart and said she wanted to cover it with a pound of bacon. This summer we launched the Weber with two books. What carnivore wouldn’t want to spend time with us?
To quickly explain, Weber’s griddle is like taking one of the company’s three-burner gas grills, removing the grates (and lid), and replacing them with a giant, flat cast iron surface. Turn on the burners, heat this surface and cook. You give up some classic gas grill capabilities, but you get a lot in exchange, including the fact that the flat cooking surface resembles a huge cast iron skillet designed to cook a ton of food at once.
Its wonderful capabilities are nowhere better on display than at breakfast, where you can cook your homemade fries, sausages and eggs at different temperatures and bring them out at the same time. If you’ve ever dreamed of becoming a short-order breakfast cook, a griddle like this is the key to your fulfillment.
This particular griddle made me curious, because it’s made by Weber, a company famous for the quality and value of its charcoal and gas grills. Weber is often great at getting the basics right, and I wanted to see how something new from the big company would fare in an emerging category.
During those three weeks at my parents’ house in New Hampshire this year, we usually had between five and eight big eaters and centered our cooking around that, really appreciating how quickly that could happen. Sticking to breakfasts, I developed a frequent habit of turning it on regardless of the main course, then adding a few slices of sliced onions and letting them cook slowly while I prepared everything the rest. Fried eggs are a lot of fun here since there’s no pan wall to get in the way; simply slide your spatula horizontally and flip it. These little ones egg rings are particularly pleasant to use, helping you create Egg McMuffin style eggs. I used to think of grilled tomato slices only as something for a good English breakfast, but I will be making these beauties, occasionally with a few bread crumbs sprinkled on top, as much as possible between now and the time I die.