Written by adam on Jan 31, 2005
Review: The George Foreman Grill
Since launching the George Foreman Lean Mean Grilling Machine (and various incarnations of that name) in 1995, The Grill has become one of the most popular appliance gifts of our time. You'll find this under trees at Christmas, on the gift tables at wedding receptions, and even in Easter Baskets on Easter Sunday. OK, that last one was a joke. But the name George Foreman Grill has become as commonplace in the kitchen as your toaster is now.
The George Foreman Grill is so popular and well known these days, Mr. Heavyweight champ himself doesn't even have to make the infomercials anymore. The thing sells itself. Foreman has made more money in hawking this grill than he ever did in the ring. But I bet you're wondering now what my take on "The George" is. Does it work? Do the recipes for this grill work? Is it worth your penny? Should you re-gift it?
The grill, manufactured by Salton, Inc. is touted as a fat-reducer because of the gently sloping Teflon-coated grill plates which lets excess fat drain out, leaving tender, moist meat at the top. The grill, which resembles a large, sloping waffle maker with two ridged metal plates that sandwich food in the middle while heating it and letting fat drain away into a drip container. Supposedly, by doing so, your meat is healthier because it hasn't been swimming in and absorbing grease while it cooks. Most of the grills come with a 90-some-odd page recipe book with plenty of meat, veggie, and desert recipes written in the lingo that only George himself would use.
Great, fine. That's awesome. But will it change the oil on my car?
Let's break it down into chunks here. Does it let grease and fat drain away? Yes. That is quite obvious when cooking a mess-a bacon in there. The fat all drains away leaving nice and crispy bacon that is cooked all the way through and is not half-cooked in the middle with the ends raw. This is my favorite part of the grill. You get bacon that's not curled up when you remove it from the heat. For the most part, the grill cooks evenly, though I can tell a definite temperature difference from the lower plate to the lid plate.
The grill does cook food pretty fast. There is, after all, only one heat setting: high. A large chicken breast is fully cooked in 5-8 minutes.
The problem with that heat setting is that you can't adjust it, meaning you can't adjust for other types of food that the recipe book would have you use. Which brings me to my other point. Do the recipes work? Not really.
I've tried to cook vegetables on The George and it really doesn't work. Because of the heat singularity, there's no way to regulate the heat for veggies that need a lower setting. The cooking method is sear and sear only. I've had modeate luck with potato medallions or anything not too thick. Seems like the thicker the vegetable, the worse the end result. Most of the time you'd get a dark caramelized outer crust and a mealy interior.
One of the recipes called for a orange glaze to be poured over some chicken breasts during cooking. When I did this, the glaze instantly caramelized and then burnt before the chicken could finish cooking. This is one thing I learned about the George. If you are going to use any sort of dressing or sugar-based glaze, do it at the very end of the cooking. Else you'll just get a George full of carbon.
Another beef I had with this product is that it is often touted as a grill that can cook an entire meal for you. Many of the recipes include a meat and vegetable both cooking side by side on the grill. I think this might be a little ambitious, especially if you have a family of 4. You might could fit 4 chicken breasts on the large grill at once, but by the time you finished the vegetables, the meat would be cold and tough. And as mentioned above, the singular heat setting won't really work well trying to cook meat and veggies on the grill at the same time. By the time both were done, one would be burned.
After using The George for a couple of years, I've found that it works best on meat. We tend to use the grill in our house when we want meat cooked fast with minimal cleanup. Mostly we do bacon, chicken, burgers, pork chops. and sausage links. Tha's right, sausage links. Just slice the links lengthwise then put them meat side down on the grill. Easy as pie. Hell, even hot dogs do OK on this thing.
What The George is not good for is vegetables and any other complex recipe that you would normally put together over a stove or oven.
Should you pay money for this grill? Maybe. Seems The George is a good buy for single people. A friend of mine owned the small grill and said it was the best gift he'd ever received. Never even turned on the oven.
So when it's time for you to turn on your George Foreman grill, don't try to get fancy and assume you can have your filet and asparagus and eat it happily. Think simple. Think meat. Oh, and don't forget to clean up afterward.