Plancha or griddle - The French plancha explained
The Plancha explained - This article from our 2009 blog is still valid today
Plancha is a Spanish word which in this context describes a flat metal plate on which items are fried. There are several related words such as fry-top, griddle and plaque which all describe a flat plate on which food is fried.
For our purposes we will divide the ‘Plancha' into two groups.
- The British griddle/ Spanish Plancha. This is a simple type of heated plate on which a caterer can fry anything from eggs to meat and fish. It is generally (but not always) imprecise in its accuracy and control, and usually it is quite cheap, generally the cheaper it is the less control you have. The most basic type of griddle is a plate which simply sits on a burner and gets hot, it is normally less than 6mm thick and therefore suffers from hot spots
- The French Plancha. This is the type of unit we produce. It has much in common with the Planchas from French manufacturers such as Bonnet and Athanor. Charvet and Rorgue also supply Planchas but I am not convinced they give the same results as the Bonnet, Athanor and Control Induction planchas. The French Plancha is a totally different animal to the common or garden griddle. The French Plancha gives a caterer similar results to pan frying but with improved consistency. The best example I can give of the difference between a Plancha and a griddle is based on an experience I had with a chef at Bluebells Restaurant in Bagshot whilst working for Bonnet. The chef went with one of my salesmen to Plateau Restaurant in Canary wharf where Tim Tolley, a Master Plancha Chef, showed him how well his Bonnet plancha cooked scallops and prawns. The chef found that they were cooked as well as he could have cooked them in a pan and decided that the new Bluebells kitchen would have a Bonnet Plancha. Bluebells decided to buy modular Bonnet cooking equipment which incorporated a griddle (not a Plancha) and to cut a long story short this was a disaster. The salesman who supplied the equipment thought that all griddles (or planchas) were alike. The end result was that the chef could not get the results from this griddle and had to revert to pan cooking for prawns, scallops, foie gras etc. What this story proved to me was how brilliant planchas are and how different they are to a standard griddle.
There are many differences between the heating system of a plancha (call us on 01622 872821 and we will be happy to explain) and the heating methods used in Spanish Planchas or griddles. For the chef these are not important, the important facts are that griddles are a great piece of catering equipment for eggs and bacon and a French Plancha made by us down in Kent will give results you could only achieve by pan frying at the hands of a top chef.
Other big advantages of French Planchas are:
- French Planchas give ultra consistent results
- French Planchas give control to the exec chef using the labour of a commis
- French Planchas reduce pan quantities in the kitchen
- By reducing pan quantities Planchas reduce washing up chemical use etc.
- Exec chefs have far greater indirect control over cooking than with pans
- French Planchas are energy efficient