The plancha material and thickness is crucial for maintaining the extreme heat needed for plancha cooking as well as for its even heat distribution. The surface temperature sinks once food is placed onto the plancha. If hobby chefs want to cook for family and friends during their leisure time, a thinner plancha is sufficient, since time can be allowed for the heat to regain its full power before placing new items onto the surface. However, restaurant chefs or those not wishing to wait between steps, should choose a plancha whose heat remains consistent; these planchas are much thicker and heavier!
A closer look at plancha materials
Porcelain-enamelled cast iron: Outstanding heat retention, even heat distribution, food rarely sticks to surface. Manufacturers of quality products guarantee the surface for up to 10 years. Look for a heavy, solid design.
Cast aluminium: Resistant, lower price end, very good heat distribution, heats up quickly, needs initial seasoning.
Steel: Good heat retention, surface bears up to all cutting and chopping typically associated with plancha cooking; needs initial seasoning.
Blackened steel: Surface has been seasoned ex works by dipping the entire plancha griddle into hot oil – letting you avoid the rather unappealing transition from new to well-seasoned plancha.
Chromed steel: Surface does not need to be seasoned. It remains silver and the cooking result will always look golden instead of sprinkled with black – which always ends up looking burned, even if it’s not! Chopping and cutting on the surface is not recommended, however, as this will damage the chrome sooner or later.
Stainless steel: Great material for those who love scrubbing until it shines. However, it is less suited to plancha cooking, as the meat sticks to the surface and only comes loose once it fully cooked and thus rather dry – an undesired state in plancha cooking.
The answer is usually easy to determine based on your particular situation:
Can you keep the appliance sheltered from weather conditions, in a cool and dry place under a roof or awning?
Do you expect to carry the plancha from one place to another often?
Will wind influence the flames and their correct development, requiring repositioning of the plancha every so often?
Do you have enough space to store the plancha during the winter?
A plancha fixed to a trolley can be handier if you intend to be moving the appliance around. Tabletop planchas are not suited to such manoeuvring, as you can hardly push a trolley while holding the gas bottle and ensure the plancha doesn’t fall!