Use This Classic Spanish Kitchen Appliance To Perfectly Sear Food

Grilling is an art. And while we love to fire up the grill on a nice evening, getting that perfect cook on your steak, burger, zucchini, or eggplant can be a challenge, especially when you haven't mastered the tools you're using.

In the U.S., it's common to use grills (charcoal or gas) with grates, which have pros and cons. It's fun to show off a cut of meat or fresh veggie with perfect sear marks, but, on the other hand, it's hard to serve anybody something that's fallen through the grate or has been overcooked to the point of being inedible.

In Spain (and numerous other Spanish-speaking countries), there's a tool that cooks use to harness the power of the grill and serve up beautifully-cooked dishes. Food & Wine describes what happens when you use this magical device: "Marbled cuts of meat won't flare up or dry out, veggies won't fall through the grill grate, and hard-to-sear items, like citrus and avocados, can be charred and caramelized." It almost sounds too good to be true, but it's not!

The plancha is Spain's secret weapon

A plancha can refer to any flat, heated surface, but in cooking, it's most associated with griddles and flat-tops, according to Michelin. In Spain, planchas are the force behind beloved tapas dishes like patatas bravas and gambas a la plancha (pan-seared prawns); chefs love cooking everything from steak and seafood to vegetables on planchas, because those items can reach perfection when seared on the outside at high temperatures while lightly cooking within.

Cooking a la plancha is a technique that anybody can do, and there are plenty of options with regards to technology, from gas-powered planchas to old-school ones that simply see a rectangle of metal placed above a heat source like a stove or a charcoal or wood-fired grill. While Food & Wine recommends the Lodge carbon steel griddle, there are countless options.

As far as technique, it's easy to get started: just light your grill, prepare veggies and meat with neutral oil (don't add oil directly to the plancha, because it will burn), sear your items until they're charred, flip, and cook until complete. After that, the only thing left to do is figure out what sides and drinks to serve.