This summer, wouldn't it be nice to bring the grilling indoors, away from the heat and the bugs? While the rest of the country is just now heading into outdoor grilling season, it can be unpleasant to stand over an open flame in Florida. In June.
And with Father's Day on Sunday, it's a chance to welcome Dad into the air conditioning while you prepare outdoor favorites inside. Indoor grilling is also essential for people who don't have the outdoor space to grill, and it's usually easier in terms of cleanup. Here's how to master it.
Any conversation about indoor grilling must start with the George Foreman grill, the ubiquitous-in-the-'90s black clamshell that exploded in popularity around the same time America took to the high-protein Atkins diet. Foremans offered a quick and painless way to cook meat, and its signature slanted shape and drip pan meant fat collected in the grill instead of on your plate.
The grills, which come in almost every size imaginable and are electrically heated, cook food by sandwiching it between two ridged panels, meaning both sides get cooked at once and are branded with those classic barbecue grill marks.
George Foremans are indeed ideal for cooking meats, and anything that could benefit from some pressing, like a panini.
Another appliance to consider to get a taste of the outdoor grill inside your kitchen is an infrared grill.
These particular grills are similar to gas grills, except their heat source comes from infrared technology as opposed to a direct flame. The idea is to reduce the amount of smoke given off, making the appliance ideal for use indoors.
In terms of food preparation, it's the same process as an outdoor grill: Select your meats (or vegetables) of choice, rub with marinade or dry seasonings, then cook on the grill. Just like an outdoor grill, you lay the food across a grate situated above the infrared heat source instead of fire. The grate preheats in minutes. As the food cooks, far less smoke is given off than during your typical outdoor barbecue.
Beverly Buss, general manager of the Williams-Sonoma at International Plaza, which hosts cooking classes that feature their newest infrared grill, says cooking with this kind of grill is very similar to using an outdoor gas grill. Her favorite thing to cook? "Probably vegetables with a little olive oil and seasoned with some of our rubs."
Indeed, just about anything you can cook on an outdoor grill you also can cook on an indoor infrared grill. A constant cooking temperature means that all of the food cooks evenly. The high temperature also means that meats can be nicely seared. Try adding wood chips to the drip pan of the grill to create a smoky taste.
And the grills, like George Foremans, can easily fit on a countertop and are light enough that they can be moved around the kitchen, or the house.
There's an even easier way to get an authentic grilled taste without charcoal: a grill pan. Typically cast iron, these skillets are made with ridges on the bottom instead of a smooth surface, and use the heat from your stove to mimic grilling. Grill pans go right on your stovetop and are often either squared and sized to fit on top of one burner, or rectangular and large enough to fit over multiple burners.
We asked Food Network chef Jeff Mauro, who hosts the channel's Sandwich King show and is currently promoting his new partnership with Mark West wines, how he masters indoor grilling. He's a fan of the grill pan in particular, which can also be used in conjunction with your oven.
"If you're cooking on a pan or a grill top, once you get a beautiful sear on all four sides of the (meat) you can pop it in the oven at 300 degrees for about 30 minutes," Mauro said. "For accuracy, invest in a good instant-read digital thermometer. They rarely lie, they're rarely late, and they'll last for years."
"I like to marinate my steak before cooking with a wine like Mark West California Pinot Noir, shallots and fresh thyme," he said. "Before cooking on a stovetop, it's important to take the marinated steak out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature in your kitchen for about an hour prior to cooking. That way, the meat isn't cold and won't seize up when you put it on the hot grill; this helps avoid only cooking the outside of the meat while the interior is too cold."
More so than George Foreman grills or infrared grills, grill pans are able to best replicate an outdoor grill's ability to cook food quickly with a dry heat that creates a crust on the outside of the grillable. There's also the added boon of being able to adjust the heat, just like you would with a regular skillet. And they tend to be cheaper (think between $20 and $40) than their indoor grill counterparts.
Contact Michelle Stark at [email protected] or (727) 893-8829. Follow @mstark17.