Advantages Compact for small kitchens, grills and reduces fat on food, easy to use
Disadvantages A pain to clean, short power cord
|Ease of use|
|Cleaning & Maintenance|
|Value for money|
When Mr Lools and I moved into our first home together 6 years ago we were very keen on buying kitchen appliances, but because we had a small kitchen bench and cupboard space was limited. At this point in our lives (pre children) we were massively into eating healthy and going to the gym (at least 5 times a week!) so any appliance that supported this way of life was considered essential. So one of our first purchases to go in our new kitchen was the George Foreman 13631 Grill.
The outer casing of the grill is silver. The bottom of the grilling surface is 270mm by 27mm and is made from black non-stick metal very much like a griddle pan. On the lid of the grill there is also the same sized grill plate which when you pull down cooks food on both sides when it is inside of the grill.The grill is available from a number of stores including Argos, Tesco and Amazon. At the time of writing (August 2011) you can purchase this grill new from Amazon for £9.99. We purchased this from Argos over 6 years ago which cost £19.99. Since purchasing in 2005 there have been new models of this George Foreman appliance brought out which are more widely stocked by main high-street retailers which follow the same grilling concept.
To turn on and use you simple plug in and turn on at the plug and the grill plates start to heat up. I found the grill would heat up in around 3 minutes. On the lid there is an indicator which lights up red when the grill plates are ready to use.
The main reason we purchased this grill was because of its compact size and that it would reduce the amount of fat in the meat we were cooking. Also at the time we purchased this grill I never cooked meals for more than Mr Lools and I so did not have the need for a larger grill.
There are grill plates on the base and the lid so food cooks from both sides and therefore quicker than it would on a standard grill. Personally I would always turn the food during cooking even though it was cooking on both sides. I found that food cooked more evenly by doing so as the bottom grill plate on our grill was always hotter than the top plate on the lid. I also found if I didn’t do so the food would often stick to the grill plates despite them having a non-stick coating. This was particularly the case when cooking steak which I am very pedantic when cooking to ensure it is cooked evenly.When cooking the top section of the grill did stay cool to touch despite it being attached to a hot grill plate. I did find that you need to take care when opening the grill when cooking and you should carefully lift the lid at the front of the grill where there is a grooved handle. On a number of occasions I did lift the lid holding too close to the edge and burn my fingers as around the edge of the lid it does heat up. I also did find you need to take care to keep your face away and stand back slightly as you are cooking meat when you lift the lid as sometimes this motion means hot steam shoots upwards.
The fat does run off the grill and into the drip tray however you need to ensure you place this drip tray under the grill and allow it to be positioned completely central so fat can be caught even if it runs backwards from the grill. If you position too far forwards all of the fat may not be caught. I generally found that at the start of grilling fat runs out of the meat and into the tray quite quickly but this reduces and I first used to worry that the tray would overflow but in all of the time of cooking, even with two pieces of meat the tray never overflowed. By the time the meat was cooked the drips of fat into the tray were minimal. I also found by squishing the meat down with the lid during cooking mean more fat came out of the meat.The grill generally cooks enough food suitable for portions for two people however there were exceptions and needed to use the grill again to ensure I had cooked enough food. When cooking chicken breasts I could easily fit two large breasts onto the grill but did find that it was advisable when I first placed these onto the grill raw to press down with some pressure on the lid to squash down slightly in order to cook quicker and more evenly. If the chicken breasts were particularly thick I did find that the grill would often burn the outside of them before the middle was cooked enough hence why I would try and squash down initially.
I often found when cooking two pieces of steak I needed to do this separately in order to fit under the grill. However with burgers if positioned correctly I could fit 3 onto the grill. I often used to cook bacon on the grill and could fit 6-8 rashers on at once but this took some skilful positioning. It was often worth putting 3 pieces of bacon on the grill, waiting 20 seconds for it to shrink then place the rest of the rashers onto the grill.The power cable on this George Foreman grill is less than 1m in length. This means you are quite restricted as to where you can put the grill as you need to be close to a plug socket. In my old kitchen, plug sockets were limited (as was bench space) so when using this grill we often had to unplug other appliances in order to put it on a bench near a plug socket.
Mr Lools mainly used to get put on washing up duties of this grill (after all I had cooked) and he did find cleaning the grill a chore. When food had been burn onto the grill or if you had cooked a piece of meat that a lot of fat came out of, he did used to complain that it was tough to get this off the non-stick grill plates. Obviously before cleaning you do need to ensure the appliance is off and the plates have cooled down but it is advisable to not let the plates cool down to much or leave the plates dirty for too long as it becomes more difficult to clean them. We didn’t burn food but often found food stuck to the plates. When cooking chicken for example it was easier to clean the grill and this could be done by wiping down the plates with a damp soapy cloth and rinsing. When cooking bacon I did find that food burn onto the grill and you needed to use a scourer and lightly rub the plates to get this off.My issue if you do not clean thoroughly is that the next time you use you get a taste of the food you cooked previously hence why we always ensured we cleaned the grill plates fully.
The grill has been used for over 6 years now and is still going strong. Being honest we do not use this grill quite so frequently as now when we cook we tend to use our grill tray in the oven as we usually cook bigger portions and cook our meat with other flavours or sauces which you can’t do as easily with this grill plate. On the occasions though when Mr Lools is working away I find myself using this grill as it is a perfect size for single portions and very convenient if you want a simple grilled piece of meat quickly.Once you have finished using the grill and cleaned it is compact enough to fit easily in a kitchen cupboard. The power cable wraps around the grill when the lid is down and sits very flat in a cupboard. You do need to ensure you store the plastic drip tray somewhere safe in order to not lose this.
In terms of cooking the grill cooks very effectively and ensures that the amount of fat in food is reduced. You can actually see the fat dripping in the tray under the grill which although isn’t pleasant it is quite reassuring to think that fat has been removed from your food before you eat it.
I would definitely recommend this grill to those that are not cooking large amounts or enough to make up to 2 portions. It’s the perfect size for someone living on their own or a couple. For under £20 this is excellent value for money and the compact size of the grill when in use and not in use means it is great for kitchens that are lacking in cupboard or bench space.
The grill does take some cleaning but this is not as time consuming as a grill tray in an oven and I personally would recommend cleaning as soon after cooking as possible to make this task easier.After 6 years our grill is still going strong however our strict health and fitness regime is not, although the grill does push us in the right direction.
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