Summer (aka grilling season) is just around the corner! The smokey, charred taste of scrumptious meats and vegetables is just irresistible. Cooking outside also helps to keep your house cooler (which saves on electricity). While the weather doesn’t stop some people from using their outdoor grill all-year-round, most people reserve grilling for spring/summer/early fall. I’ve always loved grilled foods, but found myself unable to cook them well until recently. To preface, no in-door grill will truly be able to provide that amazing “grill” taste – this you can only get from cooking over an open flame. However, there is definitely variability in the taste of various in-door grilling cookware/methods and I have experimented with several of them. Here are my experiences.
I think of the broiler like an inverted grill. Instead of the heat source being directly underneath the foods, it is above it. I would only recommend the broiler if you have a gas stove (where there is a flame); I did not care for the taste of foods cooked with an electric stove broiler. In order to use your oven broiler, you need to position the rack about 4 inches away from the heat source (usually the first slot in the sides of the oven). For best results, I like to preheat the broiler for at least 10-20 minutes to get it nice and hot. The big drawback to using the broiler is that it is hard to control the heat and the house gets very hot.
These are the electric grills with a folding top that has grill plates to cook both sides of the food at the same time. The George Foreman grill is almost a quintessential tool of the college/single lifestyle. I remember being extremely excited with my first Foreman. Alas, like most things that are hyped, I was quite disappointed. My foods barely had any “grill marks” and I didn’t like the texture of the meats. I find that the closed structure causes foods to become “steamed” rather than “grilled”. I’ve purchased two separate models over the years and honestly have only used the Foreman no more than a handful of times. The disappointing tastes and the even more troublesome clean-up made it a less-than-desirable means of cooking.
A grill pan is basically a heavy cast-iron skillet with raised interior rows. It maintains heat really well and the design allows fat to drip down and also gives the meats those desirable “grill marks”. Similar to the Foreman, the clean-up is quite troublesome because you need to be careful to preserve the “seasoned” pan. As far as taste, I find it not much different than pan-searing.
An open-face grill is almost like a Foreman without its counterpart “close” top. You have to cook foods one side at a time. The only brand I’ve tried (and love) is Presto. It maintains heat very well, it is “smoke-less”, and so extremely easy to clean. This grill gives my foods those nice “grill marks” and/or charred edges every time I’ve used it. The meats/vegetables I’ve grilled on the Presto have all tasted delicious.
Until I found Presto, I pretty much gave up on the prospect of “grilling” inside. I was just never pleased with the way the foods tasted (especially with the George Foreman) and the clean-up just seemed like more trouble than it was worth. I am in love with my Presto grill and unlike most other kitchen appliances, it is not collecting dust on the shelf/stored in a box. In fact, it has been used many times since I’ve got it. While I will always prefer the taste of my outdoor grill, Presto will more than whet my appetite for grilled foods. In-door grilling is an easy, fast, and healthy way to cook, but you have to have the right tool to succeed. I highly recommend investing in a Presto grill!