Indoor grills have been around for years and the double sided clam-shell grill, made famous by George Foreman, has been in many kitchens for a long time. They are a great way to grill food in the kitchen without having to light up an outdoor grill. These indoor grills are easy to use and make grilling meat a snap. There has not been much ‘new’ in the design or function of these clam-shell grills over the years. That is until now. T-Fal, the inventor of teflon and non stick pans, have brought some great innovation with their OptiGrill.
The OptiGrill is similar to most other indoor grills. There are two grill plates that heat up grilling the meat or other food placed on them. The food is placed on the lower grill and the upper grill is lowered down to rest on the meat. The meat is cooked on both sides simultaneously. The bottom grill is on a slight angle, allowing grease to drain off during the cooking.
The innovation of the OptiGrill is that the machine is able to determine the thickness of the meat and cook it accordingly. This is done by measuring the meat by the amount that the upper grill is lowered. The cooking time of a 1 inch steak is much different than a 1 1/2 inch steak, so the fact that the OptiGrill can measure the meat automatically is quite clever.
On top of measuring the thickness of the meat, the OptiGrill also has a cooking indicator light. There are presets for grilling many different meats including steak, fish, burgers, and even sandwiches. Press the button for the food you plan to grill and press ok. The OptiGrill will begin to preheat and will beep when ready. The machine registers the thickness of the food and determines exactly how long it will take to cook. The indicator light changes colors as it cooks and when it reaches the correct color, you know it is done.
Cooking steak was the first thing I wanted to try. This grill is said to be able to identify the doneness of a steak from rare, to medium, to well. This sounded really cool because being able to know the exact doneness of a steak can be tricky, especially with different thicknesses. I rubbed some steak spice on a striploin, preheated the OptiGrill for steak and placed the meat on the grill. I lowered the lid and the machine beeped. This indicated that the OptiGrill was cooking the steak according to the thickness. I just had to watch the indicator light.
The OptiGrill light indicator changes color as it cooks. There is a color chart around the light showing rare (yellow), medium (orange) an well-done (red). I lifted the lid once the color got to a solid yellow.
The steak looked good and had nice grill marks.
Since the grill is on a slight angle, the grease dripped down and into a drip tray.
Cutting into the steak showed it to be perfectly rare. It was tender and delicious.
I do not like a steak to be well-done, but, I figured that I should try it out. I put another steak on the OptiGrill and let it cook till the indicator light went red. I pulled off the steak and cut into it. The meat was well-done and that would make some members of my family happy as that is the way they like their steak cooked.
The OptiGrill did make grilling a steak simple and the colored light is a very clever idea.
I also love grilled cheese sandwiches and paninis. One of the preset buttons is for a sandwich and it did not take long for me to try the OptiGrill at making a nice reuben. Whole wheat bread, sliced corned beef, sauerkraut, swiss cheese – this makes my mouth water just thinking about it. The grill cooked it really well and while cooking the steak required you to pay attention to the color, for a sandwich, the machine beeps when it is done. The bread was nice and crisp and the cheese was all melted. I will definitely use this grill for sandwiches more in the future!
I have used many different indoor grills and the OptiGrill really does stand out. Here are a few things that I liked about this unit.
- The color indicator is not a gimmick – it does work and it is quite helpful.
- The preset buttons make it simple and they cover pretty much all the things you will ever try to grill.
- The non-stick grill plates are removable and can be cleaned in the dishwasher.
- The grease drains off the grill easily and collects in the drip tray.
You can find retailers to purchase the OptiGrill at their website.
Disclaimer: T-Fal provided me with the OptiGrill. They did not pay me for this review and the views expressed above are my honest reactions after trying the product.