When it comes to sealing in flavour and giving your food a smoky tang, you can't beat a grill. Tucking into a plate of chargrilled chicken used to be the sole reserve of the summer barbecue, but with a kitchen grill you can enjoy perfectly grilled food from the comfort of your own kitchen.
What is an electric grill?
This mains powered appliance is a countertop alternative to an outdoor grill. Rather than using charcoal or gas to create flames, kitchen grills include a powerful heating element. The grill part is essentially the grate or ridged surface which the food is laid on to allow even heat circulation.
There are two kinds of indoor grill, open and contact. Open grills are essentially mini versions of the classic barbecue design, with the heating element set in the base and an open grate on top. Contact grills, sometimes known as health grills, have two cooking plates which the food is placed between, rather like a giant toastie-maker. These are considered a healthier option as the non-stick plates mean less oil is used and their slanted design allows rendered fat to run off. This was the design made famous by George Foreman in 1994 when he launched his "lean, mean, fat-reducing grilling machine."
Should I choose a contact grill or an open grill?
This depends on what you plan to use your grill for. An open grill works closely to a barbecue and creates a similar charred flavour. So, if you're a fan of seared burgers, crisp shrimp and chargrilled vegetables this design is a good choice. However, this style can create smoke if not kept scrupulously clean and also requires you to flip your food halfway through cooking.
A contact grill has two heating plates so can cook steak, sausages and vegetable kebabs very quickly and will still create the signature grill marks. It also doubles up as a panini press and griddle. Although these grills tend to be smaller, the two plates can be opened out, effectively doubling the grill's surface area. Health grills are less suited to bulky items such as chicken legs or thick meat cuts as these stop the lid from closing. They are also more difficult to clean as they have more nooks and crannies for grease to creep into.
How do I wash an electric grill?
The best time to wash your grill is when it is still warm so the debris will be looser, but always ensure your appliance is turned off before donning marigolds. If possible, remove the grate and if your model has a removable drip tray, remove that too. Next use a rubber spatula to scrape off any food or fat from the grill pan before using a warm, soapy sponge to clean it throughly. If your drip tray and grate are dishwasher safe, put them in for a cycle, if not soak them in hot soapy water and use a scourer to remove any caked on grease. Dry everything thoroughly to avoid any rust and put the appliance back together.
If your model does not have a detachable grate or drip tray as can be common with some health grills, simply remove any debris with a rubber spatula and wipe thoroughly with a warm sponge soaked with washing-up liquid. Follow this up with a wet cloth to remove any traces of detergent and finally dry thoroughly.