A Galley “Blackstone” – Takes Me Back to the “Egg Days”.

If you are unaware, most cooking equipment, save the propane BBQ grill on the aft deck of the ship, is electric. Not a big deal to many folks, as this is a common means of cooking in many a modern home today. But to a seasoned veteran of the land-based “hot food line”, this is a departure from the norm. I am used to working with high BTU, natural gas burners, fire that singes the hair on your knuckles and arms, the stuff that gives you a sunburn of sorts after an 8-10 hour shift on the aforementioned hot line. When a commercial electric range is working properly it pales in comparison even to an old and worn out gas range. Sure, it is difficult to singe the hair off your knuckles on the electric version, but that bit of comfort is lost on the waiting for a pot of water to come up to a boil. Yes, the old adage is true, a watched pot doesn’t come to a boil… not for a long time.

It seems I’ve gone on rambling about equipment deficiencies, and I have, but not all electric equipment suffers from weak heating elements. No, the “Blackstone” of the galley, aka the electric griddle, does not suffer the same inadequacies. Fact is, it is the equipment of choice for a plethora of cooking, warming, and holding tasks. I will often prepare three or four different items for the same meal period, at different temperatures, and with excellent results. The most important thing is to plan well. You would not like to see the results of pouring scrambled eggs on a 350 F. griddle because you forgot to adjust the temperature after cooking the pancakes or hash browns. It’s not pretty, and the eggs end up brown and tough. Just this afternoon I “pan-fried” catfish on the ole griddle, right after I seared my garnish ingredients for the batch of “fiesta corn” accompaniment.

“Galley Blackstone” on the M/V Mesabi Miner

Yes, working each day in the galley on the griddle takes me back to my earliest days of cooking in “family diners” and “greasy spoons” where the typical size of the griddle is six feet. Many diners have two or more griddles, each having a specific food dedicated to its seasoned and slick surface. I once worked in an upscale-family diner, that featured a 6’ griddle for hash browns, a 2’ griddle for sausage, bacon, and ham, and a 4’ griddle for omelets. The “cooked to order” eggs were handled on an 8-burner gas range. You might be wondering why we needed that much griddle square footage, (as did I when I was interviewing for a breakfast cooks position). Several restaurants in the area were very competitive on their breakfast menu prices. That, along with the demographics of the northeast side of the greater metro Detroit area warranted the equipment. When I hired in, the local restaurants were in the midst of a breakfast price war. We were serving a breakfast special that consisted of the following: two eggs, two pieces of either bacon or link sausage, hash browns, one piece of toast and a cup of coffee for…….. $0.79 in 1983 dollars. Although I didn’t work the big griddles, I got to cook the eggs, sometimes upwards of 120 dozen of them in four hours, along with the sausage and bacon on the 24” griddle attached to the 8-burner range.

“Workhorse” of the family diner!

Griddles are not as common in upscale cuisine, not until you get to the ultra-fine dining establishments that use “anti-griddles” for flash freezing desserts and the like, but that is another story for another day. Over the last thirty years, I have rarely used a griddle, with the exception of moonlighting part-time for extra income. It is a nuanced kind of “weird” to see griddles showing up in the backyards of America. Search online for one of the many “smash-burger” recipes that are popular today, and you will no doubt see one of the consumer variations of the “Galley Blackstone”! Handy tool, and loads of fun to work with!

Typical backyard griddle.

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