Get grilled chicken taste indoors

Julie Falsetti
For The York Dispatch

To grill or not to grill? If you read food magazines or watch food TV, this is not even a question. Summer is grilling season, end of debate.

Food writers say the tastiest meat is prepared over a charcoal fire, but most Americans prefer the convenience of a gas grill. No matter what you use, cooking meat over high heat allows you to produce the Maillard reaction, which gives grilled foods that complex, delicious flavor.

Then there are the people who never use a grill. They live in an apartment. They are cooking for one or two. The weather is bad. They are allergic to the outdoors.

There are many reasons not to run outside to cook dinner, but there is hope. Enter the grill pan.

Usually made from cast iron, the grill pan is like a skillet with raised ridges. The ridges impart the crusty, traditional grill marks on meat. Since it is a well-known fact that we eat with our eyes, the grill marks on the meat are a signal for tastiness. Many restaurants use grill pans to give meat the appearance of being cooked over an open fire.

Because grill pans are used on a stove top, they allow for a lot more control when cooking. This is especially important when cooking chicken.

I love chicken cooked on the grill, but I’ve had my share of burnt, dried-out meat. Using a grill pan, you have more control over the timing and temperature to ensure a perfectly cooked piece of meat.

The secret to using a grill pan (or any cast iron pan) is preheating. Because I am either distracted or impatient, I usually place my pan over a high flame and set a timer for five minutes to ensure that it is heated properly. The meat should be at room temperature before cooking.

Does a grill pan mimic the taste of cooking over an open fire? Probably not, but it comes pretty close.

The recipe below can be cooked on either a grill pan or regular grill. I chose chicken thighs, as they are juicier than chicken breasts, which tend to dry out when cooked over high heat.

Grilled Chicken

4 boneless chicken thighs

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons lime juice

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cloves finely chopped garlic

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

Marinate the chicken thighs in the above ingredients for 2 to 3 hours. Preheat the grill pan, then add the chicken thighs.

Cook 4 minutes on each side, using a spatula to press down the chicken as it’s cooking. Remove the thighs from the pan, and let rest for 5 minutes to allow the juices to reabsorb before serving.

— Julie Falsetti, a York native, comes from a long line of good cooks. Her column, From Scratch, runs twice monthly in The York Dispatch food section.