The contact grill, sometimes also called a Clamshell grill, is relatively new on the cooking scene. They started to become popular in the 1990s. A contact grill is an indoor grill designed to cook both sides of the food at once and therefore reduces cooking time when compared to the standard open grill where you have to turn the food during the cooking process. They will usually come with a timer and easy-to-read digital display. You can refer to cooking charts so that you can produce your food perfectly cooked every time. Well known brands are the George Foreman Grill, Cuisinart contact grill and the Hamilton Beach range.
A contact grill generally consists of two metal grilling surfaces or plates. The plates themselves heat up to cook the food. An embedded heating element makes good heat distribution for efficient even cooking all over. The grill surfaces are clamped together and will in many cases come with floating hinges which means you can vary the angle and height of cooking to match the thickness and type of food being cooked making them very versatile and effective. These grilling surfaces are usually ribbed so that excess fat from the food can drain away during cooking. By adjusting the angle you can ensure that fatty foods can be cooked at an increased angle for effective drainage yet less fatty foods can be cooked at a more moderate angle so they will retain their moistness. Neither is there need to add any extra oil to facilitate cooking. All this makes for an overall much healthier cooking process.
However a contact grill will have other advantages too over the conventional grill or griddle. The two heated surfaces will seal the food quite effectively and therefore retain more of the juices. This helps the flavour of the food and also means there is less shrinkage.
Because contact grill cooking is faster it means a relatively small cooking area can produce more food than a griddle of the same size; often 2 – 3 times as much in the same time. So you get the advantage of saving space in your kitchen and you achieve more productivity too.
Some contact grills have very high temperatures for extremely rapid cooking. Others will also have a warm setting for keeping cooked food nicely hot and ready to eat at your convenience.
Other features to look out for are dual cooking zones so you can cook different foods at the same time. Internal containers can add sauces and spices during the cooking process. A heat-resistant see-thru lid will let you observe the cooking process for perfect results. For safety bear in mind you should have cool-touch exterior and handles. Non-slip feet and integral safety locks found in many models of contact grill will be also be useful when you have inquisitive hungry children around.
Your contact grill should come with a manual and possibly DVD or video instructions too. Many have a good range of useful cooking accessories. You may also get practical cleaning sponges, cloths and scraping tools. Hopefully you will also receive a good contact grill recipe booklet to get you on your way.
Try and find a top contact grill review that shows the benefits of easy to clean non-stick detachable parts that are dishwasher safe. Choose a model with scratch resistant housing to maintain the appearance and make it attractive looking long term in your kitchen not just when it’s new.
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