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Cast-iron pans are excellent for grilling steaks indoors.

Lisovskaya Natalia/iStockPhoto / Getty Images

In many apartment and condo buildings, outside grilling is not an option. So what to do? Indoor grilling will never give you that smoky, layered flavour that you get from an outdoor barbecue but with the following tips you can still get lots of satisfaction.

What pans should I use?

My first choice is a heavy-duty cast-iron pan. Cast iron holds the heat for better cooking, and a 12-inch pan will have room for two large steaks. In less sturdy pans, the heat drops when you toss in a steak, causing a murky colour on your meat and sometimes escaping juices.

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My favourite way to do steaks, chops, skin-on, bone-in chicken and sausages is to sear 2 to 3 minutes a side in the pan, then pop into a 450 F oven for anywhere from 7 to 12 minutes depending on thickness. The beauty of this chef’s method is you can add some butter to the pan as it comes out of the oven and baste the meat for extra flavour.

Smash burgers are another option – they work better in cast iron than they do on the grill. Use about 4 ounces hamburger meat, seasoned with salt, loosely packed, in a ball shape. Heat the pan very hot, add some oil, add the burger, and smash it down in the pan with a heavy spatula until it is about 4 inches (10 cm) across. Flip when the edges get crispy. About 2 minutes on the first side, and about 30 seconds on the flip side.

Can you use a broiler?

The broiler is good for grilling. After all, it is just an upside-down barbecue grill. However, it never really gives the same umami taste as a barbecue or cast-iron pan, because there is no flame and no wood chips.

When using the broiler, make sure the meat is at least 4 to 8 inches away from the heat and watch it closely so that nothing burns. Use the grill pan that comes with the oven because the ridges will give grill marks and the fat will drip into the channels.

What about liquid smoke?

I personally don’t use liquid smoke because it can overpower food with an intense and unnatural smokiness. I prefer smoky ingredients, such as smoked paprika, smoked salt, chipotle peppers (which are dried smoked jalapenos), Tabasco, or a smoky barbecue sauce (although it probably does have some liquid smoke in it). I also use a “Smoking Gun," an excellent hand-held tool for small-batch cold smoking. It has a chamber that you fill with wood chips, plug in and smoke whatever you please. Don’t smoke before cooking, only afterwards.

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Do countertop grills work?

These can impart a bit of a grill flavour and are handy if you have room for them. The best ones can air fry, bake and grill in one unit. I like the Ninja Foodi 5-in-1, although there are several brands that I have not tried.

Need some advice about kitchen life and entertaining? Send your questions to lwaverman@globeandmail.com.

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