For those unaware of these grills the simplest comparison is that it’s like a large sandwich toaster. You plug it in and two grill plates begin to warm up. Then you lay food on the bottom plate and push the top part down, with both grill plates then cooking the food in unison. Of course it works much better than the humble sandwich toaster, with faster cooking times and the ability to cook larger more important foods such as chicken and beef.
Unpacking and setting up the grill is easy and took seconds not minutes. There’s a switch on the side – thankfully kept well away from the hot plates – to turn it on and off, and another button that sets a timer based on the number of times you press it. That’s it. Two buttons and you can do all that’s needed to cook everything from burgers to chicken breasts, pitas to kebabs. It’s remarkably simple.
Which is good, because when you’re testing out something with two incredibly hot plates, simple is a very good thing. It’s also fast too. Preheating in a couple of minutes and then cooking most things in 5-10 minutes after that. Now that’s fast.
For my first test I decided to make thick burgers from a Jamie Oliver recipe. I’ve made these burgers a lot of times before, so it seemed like a fair test so I could tell any major differences in taste. I was able to fit three burgers on the grill, as they’re really big burgers, and placed them on the grill with a spatula to avoid touching the hot plates.
I checked the burgers after seven minutes and they were slightly brown but cutting one in half I could see they were still a little red, so I gave them more time. After nine minutes the burgers were ready and nicely cooked all the way through.
The most noticeable thing when eating the burgers was how they felt less greasy than usual. I usually grill the burgers so they loose a little grease, but in this case they felt as if they had been drained. Which was great, as I could really taste the garlic and the beef without worrying about the excess fat.
So what happened the all the grease? Well the plates are rather cleverly designed with ridges that prop your food in place. These ridges slide downward, and the grease flows down in to a separate drip tray. When you’re finished you just move the drip tray and pour the fat away. The tray isn’t attached to the grill itself so you needn’t worry about having to unclip it and sloshing the grease around.
Before getting started on round two I left the grill to cool, and started preparing Cajun chicken. When the grill had cooled I removed the grill plates – which is done by sliding a handle each side - and washed them with warm soapy water. I can’t state how much easier this was than cleaning our oven grill, which takes forever and feels horrible. As the grease had already been poured down the sink, and washed away, cleaning the grill plates was easy. There’s three parts to wash up, and I was done in a minute.
Washed, dried and ready to go, I preheated the grill again to cook the chicken. This time it took seven minutes, and I trusted the grill enough to leave it whilst I made noodles. That means I was able to make Cajun chicken and noodles in 10 minutes, which is a record for making something fresh from scratch in our home. Usually I’m lucky if I’m done in less than 30 minutes, and with the George Foreman grill I smashed that down to a third of the time. Now that’s a time save.
The chicken tasted excellent, and the coating had been given a nice crispy texture from the heat of the grill. Another success. The grill can also cook things you don’t want squashed (such as toasted sandwiches) on another setting simply by sliding the top grill upwards before you use it. This extra feature is a nice touch, and as with the rest, is simple to activate.
When I test kitchen products I can often see the benefit of them, but it’s hard to see how they fit in to your day to day life. With the George Foreman grill that discovery was instant the first time I used it. Yes you have to set it up, rather than using the grill you may already own, but it cooks quicker, is easier to clean and cuts down on the fat in what you eat. I’ve used it a bunch of times since getting it, and would happily put my name on it if a friend asked me if they should buy one.