Betty wrote and told me about the George Foreman® Indoor Grill that she received as a Mother's Day present, and asked if I had any recipes for this appliance. I didn't, so I did some research and bought my own grill yesterday. It's really fabulous! The taste of the food isn't quite like that cooked over charcoal or wood, but the caramelized grill markings, juiciness, speed of cooking, lower fat content, and ease of use make up for any slight loss of smoky flavor.
First, a caveat: make sure that the grill you use indoors is specifically made for indoor use. Never use a charcoal or gas grill indoors. Don't even use them in a garage or a screened porch. Dangerous fumes can build up too quickly in any enclosed or partially enclosed space with outdoor grills.
There are three basic types of indoor grills.
- Two-sided grills include the George Foreman grill and panini makers. These are grills that look like a waffle iron. They cook twice as fast as any other grill since the heat source is applied to both sides of the food at the same time (this is called dual contact surfaces). Ridges help remove the grease and fat from the food, while the cover retains moisture, so the end product is moist and juicy without being greasy. Beautiful grill marks make the foods look wonderful too. These grills are available in several sizes; I highly recommend buying the medium or large size unless you cook for one or two people and don't grill very often. Nonstick cooking surfaces make cleanup a breeze.
- Electric hibachi grills are smaller grills usually used to cook outdoors. Only use these grills indoors if the label and instructions specifically say that they are considered safe for indoor use. These grills may have a pan or basin below the cooking surface which is filled with water and catches the fat as it drips off the food while cooking, preventing smoke and flare-ups.
- Stovetop grills or griddles are heavy flat surfaces that either sit on top of your stovetop or replace stovetop heating coils. The best are accessories sold specifically for use with certain brands of stoves and ovens. Try to find griddles with raised ridges to get authentic grill markings and to drain away fat during cooking.
Whenever you are cooking anything indoors over high heat, which is the definition of grilling, make sure that you have good air circulation in the kitchen. Open a window, turn on a fan, or turn the exhaust fan on your stove or oven to high. It's better to be safe than sorry; nothing interrupts dinner more thoroughly than a smoke alarm going off.
Make sure that you preheat these grills. The cooking surfaces have to be hot for best results. Any recipe that cooks on an outdoor charcoal or gas grill can be cooked on an indoor grill. If you are using a two sided grill, just reduce the cooking time by about half, following the instructions and recipe booklet included with the appliance, since the food cooks on both sides at once. Take a look at Grilled Meats with Fruit for some recipes that easily adapt to the indoor grill. Please only cook boneless meats on these two sided grills for best results. As the meat cooks, it will shrink, and the bone, which doesn't shrink, will hold the meat away from the grill's surface. The meat will still cook, but it will take longer and it will steam rather than grill.
I like to gently blot marinated meats with a paper towel before cooking on the indoor grill. You'll have less cleanup and less smoking this way. To easily clean the grill, turn it off, unplug it, and let it cool for a few minutes. I like to get a few paper towels wet but not dripping, then place them inside the slightly cooled grill. The heat and moisture will loosen any baked on food, and the grill will wipe clean easily after a few minutes.
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