Contrary to its name, a grill press does not require a grill for use; in fact, it works perfectly well when searing flat-sided foods in a skillet. Also known as a steak weight or bacon press, a grill press is a heavy weight designed to help brown food evenly, whether cooking with a skillet or a flat griddle-type surface. To use a grill press in a skillet, choose one that's smaller than the bottom of the skillet's interior yet large enough to cover the food you're cooking.
What a Grill Press Does
A grill press helps food, such as a grilled cheese sandwich, brown evenly, but it does much more. The added weight of the press atop food presses out excessive moisture or grease depending on what's in the skillet. If moisture comes out of the food, as may be the case with a boneless chicken breast, that liquid hits the hot pan and creates steam. The steam helps cook the food faster.
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A grill press comes in handy for bacon as well. It keeps the bacon flat so it crisps and browns nicely; otherwise, it tends to curl, which might result in rubbery edges rather than that sought-after bacony crunch. The key to getting the desired effect with bacon or most other foods under the grill press is to just leave the press in place for at least a few minutes. It's heavy enough on its own, so there's no need to push it down. When used for cooking hamburgers, it also removes the desire or the need to continually press down on the patty with a spatula as the burger cooks.
Using the Grill Press
As your skillet warms up with your preferred cooking oil in it, warm up the grill press as well directly on a clean, hot gas stove grate or electric stove burner. When the skillet is warm, set the food in it and then set the grill press on the food so the press covers it completely. Let the press sit for several minutes or slightly less time than you'd expect for the food to brown on the bottom without the press. Remove the press and use a spatula to lift and check the bottom of the food item and then flip the food if it's ready for a flip. Set the press back on the food for another minute or two or until the current bottom side of the food has browned.
Tips for Grill Press Success
For best results, only press one food item at a time. For instance, setting the press over parts of two different sandwiches at a time results in uneven browning or possibly no browning of the areas beyond the reach of the press. If you're searing a food or cooking something delicate, there's no need to leave the press on the entire time. Remove the press once the food has the desired brownness on the bottom.
Always use a potholder or other protective cloth when grabbing the handle of the heated grill press. The handles may be especially hot directly after leaving the grill press on the stove's heating element or burner. If you don't have a trivet or similar place to set the hot grill press when you're finished using it, set it on a clean, cool stove burner. This also keeps it handy if you decide to use it again in a few minutes.