Like most foodies, I’ve been dismissive of the George Foreman Grill. But, earlier this week, my Wonderful Girlfriend cured me of that. Boy does that grill make a good sandwich.
The biggest strike against the George Foreman Grill is, well, that’s it’s not a grill. Grilling, you see, is all about the direct application of dry heat — that’s foodie for, if you put your hand over the grill surface, the heat’s blasting up at you and there’s no liquid being used in the cooking method. The George Foreman “Grill”, however, includes direct heat (the heated elements touch the food both above and below), but the grill substantially seals around the food and keeps the natural moisture from the food from evaporating — instead, this moisture stays around the food, helping to keep the food moist. This method of cooking is, technically, known as steaming — cooking food through the indirect application of moist heat. So the George Foreman “Grill” doesn’t so much grill as it half-grills, half-steams your food.
And who would want this bastard form of cooking? The moisture will destroy the wonderful caramelization of the grill, while the direct heat will destroy the delicay of the steaming method, or so you’d think. In fact, you get a sufficient dose of that “Maillard reaction”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maillard_Reaction, while cooking with a much easier-to-control system.
One of the problems of grilling is that — because there’s no added liquid — it’s easy to dry out what you’re cooking. Not in the George Foreman Grill! By mostly sealing in the moisture, the Grill ensures there’s little chance of drying out the food. Sure, you give up a lot of the surface browining, but the grill ridges burn a nice crust on the parts of the food that they touch — and that’s a sufficient amount for flavor. For less-skilled cooks, the chance to create good flavor without worrying about overcooking is an incredible opportunity.
Now, for me, I’ll have more fun with a grill pan that can go into the oven for indirect heat and be on the stovetop for direct heat. But that’s me; I’d rather have the challenge of cooking precisely, without a net. Other people are more practical about their cooking. For people who want tasty food, not to cook as a hobby, the George Foreman Grill is a perfect purchase.