So, I was up at 4:00 AM (don't ask) watching infomercials and there was one for the Cuisinart Griddler. It looked pretty cool.
Does anyone have any experience with these countertop grills? I've heard people complain the George Foreman one is difficult to clean and can get messy.
The Cuisinart one was pretty cool because you could open it up and lay it flat and it came with two different types of panels - the standard grilled panel and flat ones for pancakes and such. Bonus points is that the panels are dishwasher safe.
Do I really need one of them? If you own something like this do you use it alot? Is it worth it? Is it messy? All opinions welcomed!
I have both types, a George Forman and one by La Flame (from Sur La Table), which seems similar to the Cuisinart model. Even though it's harder to clean, I think the Forman grill does a better job of grilling. It gets hotter, and has a timer. The La Flame is easier to clean, and lays flat for pancakes, etc., but does not get hot enough to really do a good job with them. I do use both of them, but the La Flame does not double as a griddle, as I had hoped.
In retrospect, I don't know how I managed before I got my George Foreman grill!!! When I ended up in an all-electric house after having been accustomed to a Thermador Professional gas cooktop with grill, I was at my wits' end! I bought the GF grill just to try it, and in many ways I've ended up liking it better than my Thermador gas grill!! Meats seem to remain moister, especially skinless, boneless chicken breasts.
Cleaning it is now no problem, thanks to a tip I got right here on Chowhound! Immediately after removing the food from the grill, unplug it and put a double (or triple) thickness of wet paper towels on the grill and close it. By the time you finish eating, the steam action will have loosened all food bits and all you do is wipe it clean with the damp paper towels. I've now bought 3 of the GF grills--one for a place in the country and another, larger one for when we're doing peppers and other veggies. Can't believe I'm raving on like this, but as you can tell by now, I'm a convert!
It really depends what you are making. The only big problem I have with splattering using a Foreman is cooking Italian sausages on them. Since the lid is relatively heavy, it presses on the sausages and the casings tend to pop spewing hot fat everywhere. Besides that the Foreman's do have raised sides that should prevent most splattering.
That being said, I'm not the biggest fan of the Foreman grills. They are alright for chicken and vegetables, but don't get nearly hot enough for steaks or pork chops. They tend to steam things more than sear them. Also, despite the pivoting lid, they can't really handle anything cut too thick, think a boneless breast is about as thick as I'd comfortably go, or else you'd risk uneven cooking.
I don't have any splattering problems with my GF grill, but I agree: you can't grill a really thick steak. The rib-eyes at TJ's (David's kosher brand) are perfect on the GF, and just about the right thickness. Lamb rib chops are good, too, although I don't think the loin chops would be a good fit. Tried doing a small tri-tip once - will not repeat that experiment.
Have never tried a steak so can't comment on that, but have done thick pork chops--boneless as well as bone-in. It does make the top kind of "prop up", but the flavor is still there as well as the grill marks to prove it gets hot! Also works well for large, thick chunks of peppers though they do take a bit longer than meat and I turn them several times during the process.