broiling meats--stupid question
I have, I understand, a great broiler. But I have no clue about using it to broil meat (chicken, fish). How far do I put it from the broiler? What can I broil? How do I keep it from getting dry? My few attempts have been such miserable failures that I haven't even tried for several year. It makes me feel really lame!
I know this may be heretical (contrarian) thinking but it's very rare that the standard oven broiler can turn out something better than you can on your stove top. A cast iron grill pan (or regular cast iron pan) can get hotter on the stove top and sear the steak just as well and then you can finish it in oven. Broiled fish, sometimes the broilers works better but mostly I've seen dried out edges, again sear on the stovetop and oven finish if needed. The one thing the broiler is good for is melting or browning tops of items.
According to Modernist Cuisine, the location depends on the thickness of what you're trying to cook.
They have a formula to determine the "sweet spot" that requires measuring your heating element.
Unfortunately I had to return the book to the library and don't remember the formula.
Perhaps someone who has the book (I think it's vol. 2) can post it here.
When I used the formula for my broiler measurements and shelf location, I found that for items up to an inch thick I should use the broiler pan with the "drip rack".
For thicker items I would need to lower the shelf if using the broiler pan or eliminate the broiler pan and place the meat directly on the shelf with a drip pan on the shelf below.
Thank you folks! In the last few weeks I've broiled ny strip, lamb chops and hamburgers a couple of times. The lamb and burgers were fantastic! I bought a grill pan and it seems to make all the difference. We'd never had ny strip before (usually eat filet) and I think we just don't like that cut.
Mark Bittman wrote something a few years ago about using stove broilers that may be helpful:
Back in the last century and with an electric stove, my mother would regularly broil chicken and flank steak without problems. They were brown, crispy and delicious.
I agree with the poster who advised not to broil chicken as it burns easily. HOWEVER, I have a convection oven and I can set my heating elements to "top" or "bottom". The top element essentially acts as the broiler, but you can adjust the heat setting. If you have a similar set up, I would advise setting the top element to 425, as the chicken skin will get nice and crispy, and not burn all the way through. Once browned, I turn on the "bottom" element to 350 and finish the chicken.
What's the saying? No stupid questions only stupid answers? Here's mine:
I never broil as close to the element as most recipes direct. I remove all the racks and leave one on the bottom or one rung up from the bottom. I preheat the broiler for 10 minutes first. (My oven has a Hi and a Low setting (gas Maytag) and I usually use the Low.)
Put the food in, close the door, and use your timer to check diligently. e.g. garlic toast I set the timer for 2 minute intervals and keep setting/checking/setting checking. Meats I would do 4-5 minutes each side. If you walk away and try to do something else other than watch: Guaranteed Fail!
I find it helps to always use a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil (oiled or sprayed) or parchment. Fatty foods (e.g. skin-on chicken) are usually problematic, and glazes or basting liquids should be brushed on near the end of the cooking time.
I find that chicken doesn't take well to broiling though once in a while I will use the brolier to crisp up skin. I will broil other meats like beef and pork but only cuts that I would do on the grill. It is all about timing when you broil because it can go very quickly from perfect to dry. I've also had success with fish. I only broil a few inched from the heating element. You can use it to crisp the tops of casserole dishes like macaroni and cheese. I will broil peppers to make roasted pepper. I also do meatballs and some other vegetables.
I totally agree with the "cuts that I would do on the grill" statement. Your broiler is really just an upside-down grill. If there are things that you might otherwise grill directly, you can certainly do them under the broiler. Time and temp will be according to the type of food and doneness desired. Steak? Easy - high heat, close to the broiler, to your desired temp. Other things, be they meat or veggie, if you would grill them, try them under the broiler. Certainly it is not suitable for longer-cooking items, then it is time for the bake setting. One other thing that comes to mind, though it is hardly "cooking" - when I have made frozen fries or tater-tots, I find that rather than stirring or trying to turn over each piece halfway through the cooking time, I just switch from bake to broil. Comes out great!