As summer turns to fall the gear needed for summer starts to go on sale. These sales often convince someone to purchase that unusual item that they may not have thought was a good idea at full price. This year the Cuisinart 360 Griddle Cooking Center was that item for me.

I enjoy cooking inside with cast iron the idea of taking this outside with a larger surface and more heat was interesting but the entry price was a bit of a barrier for something I wasn’t 100% sure I would like or even use. Now on my third run with the flat iron I am sold. Today I was trying the always popular smash burger – the slightly crispy thinner hamburger that you couldn’t make on a traditional grill without a cast iron pan or a griddle plate. This was something I was interested in cooking before purchasing the griddle and it didn’t disappoint. From toasting the brioche buns, cooking mushrooms and onions, and ending with a smashed burger that gets crispy fried on both sides this was an easy and very simple meal. And yes – it was outstanding.

No real recipe needed. Start with some good quality bread and toast it with a little butter. From there drop your sliced onions and mushrooms with a little oil. Once you have some color on the onions go ahead and move them to the side and start your burgers. The burgers should be an 80/20 ground chuck separated into 1/4 pound balls for smashing. Once they get started press them with either your spatula or a grill press and let them crisp on one side before flipping them. Want cheese? Add and cover to melt. Nothing complicated and all delicious. You can always vary the ingredients to your taste but the onions do so well on the griddle it is hard not to make them with anything you cook.

The pros on the griddle are the ease of use and the variety of things you can cook. The cons are you have another (can be expensive) toy in the backyard. With a regular grill, a smoker and this I am suddenly needing to expand my patio. As I continue to use the Cuisinart 360 I will post more about my thoughts on it and whether or not I think it is a sound investment at full price or if you should wait for a year from now to pick up yours. So far – so good but like a lot of things the question is really whether or not it will stand the test of time and get used enough to make it worth the price.