Table-top electric grill - any good?
I live in a city apartment, so I obviously can't undertake any proper barbecuing/grilling activities. However, my dear parents recently bought me a small table-top electric grill that I could use on the balcony.
Whenever a recipe calls for grilling, I've always used the broiler, with fair to middling results. Are these table-top electric grills better than broiling? That is to say, aside from the grill marks you get on the food, are there any taste benefits with an electric grill? If this appliance is not wonderful, I can always take the unopened box back to the store and exchange it for something else.
Thank you for your comments.
A year ago, a friend gave me a DeLonghi electric "tabletop" grill for my birthday. The nonstick grilling surface is about 1 foot by 2 feet. (They run about $80 at Williams Sonoma.) I absolutely love it. It *does* get hot enough to sear and grill everything from steak to burgers to zucchini, and it has an "infusion cup," into which I put hickory or mesquite chips and herbs and water or marinade. The heat of the grill simmers the woody liquid, and it sends out a mighty tasty light mist. I've developed about 20 recipes for it, and I wouldn't be without it. BEST chicken thighs I've ever tasted.
...best 50 clams you'll ever spend. I'm moving up to a Weber Q this year (bigger deck area now, plus my expertise level is growing), but I've sworn by my little guy for several years on a micro-deck in Chicago; safe, easily controlled, no hot coals to contend with, and great results, even for smoking. Take that electric thing back - I gave mine to the Salvation Army, and I'm surprised that they didn't give it back to me!
I live in an apartment and have three ways of grilling:
1) A small(12"x12") table-top grill.
2) A cast-iron grill pan.
3) My toaster oven.
All of them work nicely, but none of them gives a smoky taste. I prefer the grill pan and the table-top electric because it is a more natural way to manipulate skewers.
I have occasionally tried a bit of liquid smoke in my marinade, but this is tricky. You will have to decide for yourself about that.
Also, my electric grill doesn't put out a lot of heat. I have found that the insides cook better if I use metal skewers. They seem to conduct some heat into the food.
The grill pan can be made as hot as you like. It usually doesnt't need to be really hot as much as it needs to be evenly hot. Pre-heat it on medium-low for about 10-15 minutes.
I have never found an electric grill to get hot enough, but I have never had the George Forman type - that grills on both sides. I could see that that might work. Many years ago, I was given a Sunbeam unit that has an element at the bottom and a standard grill. This was completely useless.
If you have any room at all on your balcony, you might consider a small Weber - the Smoky Joe. It can do 4 steaks nicely.