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Old 06-08-2005, 12:49 PM   #1
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Question: Grilling and Frying

I've been learning new recipes lately and different cooking techniques. I am trying to figure something out, which is probably dumb, but I kind of want to know.

I'm trying to figure out the difference between grilling and frying. Now I know that grilling is generally defined a dry heat method of cooking where a heat source heats up some kind of metal grid without having to use fat and frying is cooking with fat.

But I am wondering if it is the cooking with or without fat that defines frying or grilling or if it is the type of pan you are using.

So, to draw out my question: let's say you are cooking eggs on a "frying" pan. A lot of times people don't use any fat to cook the eggs. So according to the grilling and frying definitions, this would be "grilling" since you aren't using any fat. But you cook it on a "frying" pan. So which is it: the cooking with or without fat or the type of pan that defines grilling verses frying?

Also, are there any techie engineers that can explain how the actual grill pan is different than the frying pan? Since a frying pan typically requires fat to conduct heat, I imagine the grill can circulate heat more efficiently, thereby allowing you to cook heatlher (without fat)? It probably has something to do with the "grid" style of pan (for the grill) instead of just a flat metal surface like a frying pan.

Hope this makes sense and is not too much of a dumb question. :-)

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Old 06-08-2005, 12:59 PM   #2
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the main reason for using fat in a pan, besides the obvious addition of flavor, is to keep the food from sticking. even tho you are not using any fat when making your eggs, i suspect that you're using a non-stick frying pan, or else most of your eggs would be stuck to the bottom of the pan. the non-stick surface is just replacing the fat in this case. the good part of that is the health benefits, but it suffers from the loss of the flavor of the fat. however, it is still "frying" in a sense, because you are using a fryin pan, and not a grid over direct heat, which is the definition of grilling.
a grill pan, especially a cast iron one, is a great investment in the kitchen. because of the reduced surface area that is in contact with the food (only the top egdes of the raised lines in the pan), you don't have to worry much about the food sticking, therefore you don't have to use fat.
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Old 06-08-2005, 01:32 PM   #3
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Ah, I get it. So the basic technology of a grill is that it is a grid. That makes sense. Every 'grill' I've ever used had a grid. An outdoor BBQ grill obviously is a grid. The 'grill pan' I bought in college was a pan with raised metal in the pain in the form of circles . . . to create a grid. The George Foreman grill pan I just bought has raised metal in straight lines. A frying pan does not have a grid and requires some kind of "lubrication" to cook, whether it's built in to the frying pan, a simple cooking spray or fat or oil manually applied. So the grid style just stops the food from sticking, and that is why the frying pan needs fat/oil.

And the basic difference between food grilled and food fried is grilled is healthier but fried, from the fat, has a tendency to taste better. It's the difference between grilled and crispy chicken.

Regardless, this definitely answer my question. Grill = grid. Fry = no grid. :-)

So is there any explanation why trying to cook hamburgers on a frying pan turns them gray? My likely-to-be future mother-in-law did that once ....

I was initially interested in a cast iron skillet .... a cast iron grill you say? Well I did just buy a George Foreman grill thing. I keep seeing recipes that say cast iron skillets are all the rave. I just did some research and am excited that they seem to clean up easy with "seasoning" them.

Anyway, thanks!
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Old 06-08-2005, 02:00 PM   #4
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Grilling is cooking fast and quick at high temps either direct or indirect.

Frying is using a pan with oil.

And I can fry on my grill.
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Old 06-08-2005, 02:16 PM   #5
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If that were the definition of grilling, Then sauteeing would be grilling. Or microwaving. Or frying.

Most definitions of "grill" that I have seen either refer to the noun form as a device, a metal grate used to cook food over a direct heat source; or to the verb form, to cook food on a metal grate over a direct heat source.

Frying means to cook in hot fat.
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Old 06-08-2005, 02:35 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jennyema
If that were the definition of grilling, Then sauteeing would be grilling. Or microwaving. Or frying.

Most definitions of "grill" that I have seen either refer to the noun form as a device, a metal grate used to cook food over a direct heat source; or to the verb form, to cook food on a metal grate over a direct heat source.

Frying means to cook in hot fat.
Rainee's definition is the accepted one as far as formal cooking instruction is concerned. We were taught that grilling is cooking on a grill (rangetop, outdoor, gas or charcoal doesn't matter in the definition) hot and fast, while barbecuing is also cooking on a grill, but slowly at low heat.

IMO, frying is cooking in hot oil.
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Old 06-08-2005, 02:36 PM   #7
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But we also saute foods in oil. So I guess the difference between frying and sauteeing is the amount of time the food spends in the pan.
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Old 06-08-2005, 02:50 PM   #8
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ok, umm, grilling is the verb form of the noun grill, so ya gotta have some sort of grate or grid above direct heat to be considered as grilling. a grill pan is kinda cheating, but because of the raised lines and the direct heat underneath the pan, it is considered grilling. cooking over low, indirect heat on a grill, and you have bbq.
frying is cooking in hot oil (or using non-stick on applicable foods) in a vessel of some sort. i don't think a grill will hold all that much oil.
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Old 06-08-2005, 03:00 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RPCookin
Rainee's definition is the accepted one as far as formal cooking instruction is concerned. We were taught that grilling is cooking on a grill (rangetop, outdoor, gas or charcoal doesn't matter in the definition) hot and fast, while barbecuing is also cooking on a grill, but slowly at low heat.

IMO, frying is cooking in hot oil.

I beg to differ, sorry. It's certainly not what we were taught.

Rainee's definition ... "Grilling is cooking fast and quick at high temps either direct or indirect" would mean that sauteeing would be grilling, as it is fast cooking at high heat. So is frying. So is boiling. But none of those cooking methods are grilling

You say "We were taught that grilling is cooking on a grill (rangetop, outdoor, gas or charcoal doesn't matter in the definition) hot and fast..." (my emphasis).

I was taught in culinary school that the operative definition of the verb "grill" involves a cooking on a grate of some sort over the heat source. The grated device is also called a grill. You can adjust the temperature of the heat source and still be "grilling." If you turn down the heat on your burger on the stovetop grill, I don't think you are barbequing.
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Old 06-08-2005, 03:11 PM   #10
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One of the advantages of traditional grilling is the flavor it imparts to the food. On a charcoal or gas grill, most of the flavor comes from the vaporized fat that creates smoke that flavors the meat ('m not considering woodsmoke for now).

This happens, to a lesser extent, on a grill pan on a stove. The air space between the ridges of the pan allow melted fat to vaporize, creating smoke, and flavor the meat.

Using a flat metal suface to cook food in the presence of fat is frying. In addition to flavor and it's non-stick properties, fat facilitates the transfer of heat from the pan to the food. Sauteeing is a type of frying in which the food is in motion but cooking in fat.

Cooking hambugers in a frying pan does not have to make them grey. That's the result of the pan's not being hot enough and not staying hot enough during the cooking process to brown the meat.

This problem occurs when you don't get the pan hot enough initially or if you add too much meat to the pan all at once to enable it to stay hot. That's why some recipes recommend searing meats in batches rather than all at once.

Using a heavy skillet such as cast iron enables one to get it very hot initially, and since it's a metal that retains heat very well, to keep the pan hot during the searing process.
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