FoodLetter: Lean, mean and handy

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FoodLetter: Lean, mean and handy

Postby Robin Garr » Thu Nov 16, 2006 4:51 pm

<table border="0" align="left" width="210"><tr><td><img src="http://www.wineloverspage.com/graphics1/foreman.jpg" border="0" align="left"></td></tr><tr><td>Order the George Foreman Family Size Plus Grill from Amazon.com for $39.95, half the $79.95 list price. (Does <i>anybody</i> buy retail?) Or use this link to view all George Foreman grills on Amazon.com.</td></tr></table>Lean, mean and handy

Like most serious "foodies," I'm generally skeptical of kitchen gadgets advertised on late-night television, and doubly so when they come with a celebrity's endorsement attached.

I've managed to cook thousands of meals and millions of calories without ever succumbing to a trademarked Veg-O-Matic or Salad Shooter, for instance, and "As Seen on TV" is not a promotional slogan that works for me.

So naturally I've always snickered at the widely advertised George Foreman grill, billed as the "Lean, mean, fat-reducing grilling machine." Hah! If I want to reduce fat, I'll trim it off my lamb chop before I sear it on my inexpensive, no-moving-parts black iron skillet.

Or so I thought until one day a couple of months ago when I first stepped into a small local fish market with a built-in six-seat lunch counter. The restaurant (Seafood Connection in St. Matthews, a Louisville suburb) was unexpectedly fine, with a skilled chef, Mike Hungerford, cranking out modestly priced but impressive seafood lunch dishes ranging from the traditional fried-fish on rye to crab cakes and a tongue-in-cheek Reuben made with fresh wild salmon in place of the usual corned beef.

Much to my surprise, one of the kitchen tools that Chef Mike uses most often is a <i>family size</I> George Foreman grill. Mike saw me chuckling when I spotted it, and he slapped down a boneless salmon steak, closed the lid, and just a few moments later opened it to reveal a perfectly cooked, attractively grill-striped portion. I snarfed it up, too busy eating to laugh.

Hearing Mike's testimony, I came home and checked it out, found one on Amazon.com for half the purported "list price," and put in my order, hoping it would arrive in a plain, unmarked box so the UPS guy wouldn't laugh at <i>me</i>.

I've had it for a couple of months now, and nobody's laughing any more. I use it fairly regularly, and probably would do so more often if it wasn't a little too big to leave it out between uses.

Would I recommend it? Well, yes, with some caveats. I'm not sure that I fully buy the enthusiastic claims that Mr. Foreman makes about its life-changing low-fat capabilities, but this much is true: You don't need to add fat to grill on its nonstick surfaces, and a lot of fat drips off burgers and fatty cuts, dripping into shallow oval bowls provided so you can catch and discard it.

Speaking of discarding, I also pitched the slim "cookbook" that comes along with it. Its simple recipes aren't really aimed at advanced home cooks or restaurant professionals. All you really need to know about the grill is how to use it: Open it, plug it in. Wait for the light to indicate that it has preheated. Then put your chunk of protein on the lower plate (no bones, please!), lower the top to cover, and position the fat-catching bowl beneath. Wait a few minutes - you can safely open the lid to check progress or turn your item from time to time - and lift the lid and serve the dish when it's done. Five minutes seems to be enough for a medium-rare burger or chicken breast.

I've tried it on burgers, boneless chicken breasts and fish fillets and found it handles them all very nicely, requiring almost no attention from the cook, thus freeing you to finish the rest of dinner while George does the work on the meat course.

It's relatively easy to clean, the good news being that the surfaces are non-stick, the less-good news being that you can't submerge the device to soak it. We've found that it helps to put a damp paper towel between the surfaces and close it with the power off to dampen and loosen any residue while it cools; later you can wipe it mostly clean and finish up with a little detergent on a sponge and a quick wipe with a towel.

Will the grill change your life? Probably not. And I don't see it having much immediate effect to make me thinner. But set it up in a handy place on a counter, and you've essentially added a fifth burner to your range top, one that produces tasty grilled fare in a hurry with almost no effort. That's not a bad thing at all, especially for half-price.

If you like the sound of that (especially with the holidays coming up), I've set up this link to buy the family-size model from Amazon.com for $39.95, which is one-half the purported $79.95 list price. As always, purchases made using this exact link will return a small commission to WineLoversPage.com, for which we'll be grateful.

There's a smaller, less expensive model available, but I passed on it because it appeared too tiny to cook more than one or two burgers at a time. To check out other sizes, shapes and styles, you can use this long link to view them all.
Last edited by Robin Garr on Thu Nov 16, 2006 5:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: FoodLetter: Lean, mean and handy

Postby Stuart Yaniger » Thu Nov 16, 2006 5:04 pm

You left out my favorite use: panini. It works just as well (maybe better) than the more expensive "official" panini makers.
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Re: FoodLetter: Lean, mean and handy

Postby Robin Garr » Thu Nov 16, 2006 5:06 pm

Stuart Yaniger wrote:You left out my favorite use: panini. It works just as well (maybe better) than the more expensive "official" panini makers.


Haven't tried that yet ... well, I take it back, we do use it for grilled cheese sandwiches ... might still sneak that line into the E-mail edition, thanks!
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Re: FoodLetter: Lean, mean and handy

Postby Howie Hart » Thu Nov 16, 2006 5:43 pm

Handy is the key word here. I obtained the smaller version a few years ago as a selection from a gift catalog. The first thing I cooked on it was a frozen 1/3 pound burger. When I took my first bite, the juices literally exploded al over the front of my shirt requiring me to "shout it out". As there is usually only me to cook for it is quite handy. I've done hot dogs, breakfast sausage patties, fish, chuck steaks and boneless chicken breasts, and enjoyed them all. 8)
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Re: FoodLetter: Lean, mean and handy

Postby Cynthia Wenslow » Thu Nov 16, 2006 5:52 pm

I use my small one mainly for sandwiches too, but it sure is handy to do just one or two burgers or the like. I only own very large cast iron skillets, so this works nicely when I am cooking for just myself (and the Big White Dog who remains ever hopeful), which is most often the case.
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"...and the Big White dog who remains ever hopeful..."?

Postby RichardAtkinson » Thu Nov 16, 2006 6:11 pm

I laughed out loud when I saw that.

We've got an "ever hopeful" black retriever mutt who guards our every move in the kitchen. Big brown eyes that say..."go on..drop it..I dare you!"

Richard
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Re: "...and the Big White dog who remains ever hopeful..."?

Postby Cynthia Wenslow » Thu Nov 16, 2006 6:38 pm

RichardAtkinson wrote:Big brown eyes that say..."go on..drop it..I dare you!"


Let's just say that I don't have to sweep up anything besides dog hair. :wink:

The main problem with my Great Pyr is that his face is counter level. His worldview is that if he can reach it with all four paws on the floor, it's not stealing. Lost a couple very nice rib eyes that way before I realized what was happening.

He has certainly learned what the George Foreman grill means too. When he sees it come out of the cupboard he starts drooling. Pavlov was right!
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Re: FoodLetter: Lean, mean and handy

Postby Joel Sprague » Thu Nov 16, 2006 7:27 pm

Just a little bit on the cleaning part. Some of the models(though not all) started coming with removable, dishwasher-safe grill sections maybe 6-12 months ago. I have had one of the little single person ones for years, but as part of cutting back on packing before moving from Oklahoma to IL, I got rid of mine(non-stick part was wearing in some places after many MANY rough cleanings, my fault, not the makers). Anyway, took the opportunity to upgrade to a larger model with the removable grills, and I've fallen in love. It came with one of the special grill sponges too, which i do find useful. But I pull grills out, soak for a bit in sink if need be(only real problem was badly cooked on cheese from chicken breasts stuffed with Asparagus and cheddar), wipe/scrub any large food parts off the grill with just warm water and the sponge, then throw the grills in the dishwasher.

I agree with you Robin, I am not big on kitchen gadgets, but this is one of the few(along with a good corkscrew) that i suggest to everyone, and will even buy as housewarming gifts. I have to say though i've never tried any sandwiches, so that will be interesting.
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Re: FoodLetter: Lean, mean and handy

Postby GaryN » Thu Nov 16, 2006 9:05 pm

Hi Robin,

My wife and son presented me with the George Foreman grill a couple of years ago for Father's Day. Mine is actually shaped like one of those round Weber charcoal grills. It has a cooking surface with a very heavy coated non-stick surface that just doesn't quit...and as you have indicated, is very easy to clean. Great in the winter time when you want to grill inside! It does salmon marvellously! I used it frequently when entertaining. Sometimes as just a warmer standing next to my deck grill. This big round one could do panini's but you would have to put a brick on the sandwich and then turn it at the right time. I will not part with mine. The lid also comes in handy too! You can bang it with your palm just right and it rings out a melodious tone that rings "Time To Eat!"
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Re: FoodLetter: Lean, mean and handy

Postby Bob Ross » Thu Nov 16, 2006 10:31 pm

I'm glad you enjoy your grill Robin. A few other really nice dishes:

1. I'm with Stuart on the panini -- my version is big enough for four panini and I make them for Janet's work crews in a variety of types -- quick, easy, fool proof.

2. They are great for buffalo burgers and other foods that take just a couple of minutes on low temps to cook -- much faster than cranking up the grill, and the low heat keeps them really juicy and easy to monitor.

3. In the same family, free range chicken breasts come out absolutely perfect time after time. Juicy, done perfectly, easy clean up.

I still love our grill -- great when we are roasting vegetables and then use the residual heat for buffalo or chicken or fish. But if I'm steaming vegetables, our little electric grill is just the ticket.
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Re: FoodLetter: Lean, mean and handy

Postby Paul Winalski » Mon Nov 20, 2006 10:22 pm

I read this yesterday, and immediately followed the link to Amazon and ordered one. Just got email that it's shipping and due for delivery within the week. I can't wait!

-Paul W.
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Re: FoodLetter: Lean, mean and handy

Postby Robin Garr » Mon Nov 20, 2006 10:56 pm

Paul Winalski wrote:I read this yesterday, and immediately followed the link to Amazon and ordered one. Just got email that it's shipping and due for delivery within the week. I can't wait!


I'll be interested to hear what you think of it, Paul!
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