I’m a big fan of grilling and I love eating meat, but what I’m not a fan of is the British weather and cleaning the barbecue after using it; especially as I much prefer the taste of meat cooked on charcoal rather than gas. Usually, if I’m lucky, the weather will hold out just long enough for me to cook the food before the heavens open and we are resigned to eating indoors anyway. Of course, by this time I’ve forgotten about the barbecue and resultant ashes, meaning that I always have an unpleasant surprise waiting for me the next time I open the drum. The truth is though, I’m terrible at barbecuing. No matter how much the flames and the meat and the tools get my masculine juices flowing, I have no idea what I’m doing. Creating different heights of coal for temperature control, ensuring the bricks are white hot not flaming, spread of meat to guarantee perfect cooking, and that’s not even considering the different types of meat: chicken needs to be cooked all the way through, as do sausages, steak can be medium rare, but some awkward sod likes his well done! So as much as I love the idea of barbecuing, I much prefer the simpler option of grilling indoors, and that’s where the Tefal OptiGrill comes in.
As part of the Tefal Grill Skills campaign, they were encouraging everyone to share their #GrillSkills in order to help take grilling to the next level. Those tips and hints that would have encouraged everyone to get grilling in the summer. Whether it’s a marinade recipe, unusual grill option, or other concoction that no one else may have considered, they wanted you to share it with them. To make life easier when grilling, Tefal created the OptiGrill. It’s designed to give you grilling confidence, even when working with high quality ingredients, by taking away all of those difficult barbecuing hurdles you have to get over. For instance, the OptiGrill has a fitted LED cooking level indicator that makes it clear when your meat or fish is done. The cooking indicator moves through a steady colour changing scale beeping at each stage of cooking in order to allow you to decide whether to have your meat rare, medium, or well done. It also has a thickness detecting sensor which regulates grilling temperature, and comes with an abundance of meat grilling pre-sets so at the press of a button you can perfectly cook chicken, fish, sausages, burgers and even bacon as well as more. You can even cook straight from frozen using the frozen food pre-set. As you would expect with an indoor grilling system, the removable cooking plates have a fat drainage system which channels unwanted fat into a collection tray just to its front, preventing the meat being saturated in greasy fat. It claims that your meat will be cooked perfectly every time, taking the fear out of grilling. No more burned on the outside, raw on the inside sausages for you!
But does it live up to the hype? In a word, yes.
These type of grills are not a new concept. The George Foremans have been around long enough for everyone to understand what these are all about, but the Tefal OptiGrill has taken the best things about the various George Foreman grills and put them into one exceptional machine – and improved on them as well. For me, the perfect grill has to have 3 things: removable cooking plates for ease of cleaning; lots of pre-sets to prevent me making it up as I go; and space to cook more than one bit of meat at a time. This ticks all 3 boxes, but the addition of the LED cooking indicator really is a game changer. For those awkward guests that can’t just have it cooked the way you like it, you can now please everyone. Also, this isn’t just confined to meat eaters’ pleasure. It comes with a manual temperature control and cooking guide for vegetables and other non-meat related products! In fact, having watched BBQ Champ with Adam Richman (probably best not to mention Myleene Klass) I’ve realised that anything can be cooked on a barbecue, and I think it applies to the Tefal OptiGrill too.
I’ve had time to cook sausages, steak, and chicken on the grill and all have turned out really well. The steak medium rare was cooked to perfection on the inside, but I would have preferred the outside to have a bit more of a “caramelised” texture. I usually achieve this by having the pan so hot that the oil and butter smokes, when the steak goes in the fat flies everywhere and I keep turning it every 15 seconds or so until the outside is caramelised and the inside is medium rare. With every surface in the kitchen now spattered in grease, my wife is never too pleased when I cook steak this way, but with the OptiGrill she was much more content. But for this post, I will show the burger that I cooked, as let’s face it, burgers are what grills were made for.
The Perfect Burger
Perfect burgers are as unique as the people who make them. Each person has their own individual preference as to what constitutes the perfect burger, and to be frank, I love my burgers. For me, you need to taste the meat and cheese, so there is no place for a sauce on a perfect burger. This will overpower the flavour of the meat so you might as well just drink straight from the sauce bottle. The meat should always be well done. Bacteria sits on the surface of steak, so having a steak cooked on the outside and rare on the inside is fine as all of the surface bacteria has been killed. If you were to mince that meat into a burger patty, you have minced all of that bacteria into the centre of the burger as well. So regardless of the quality of the steak, you need to cook it all the way through. Anyone who says otherwise are quite simply mavericks.
To test the Tefal OptiGrill, I’ve chosen frozen burgers from Iceland. Good quality steak burgers that just happen to be frozen. Don’t judge me! For texture, I like to have crispy bacon on my perfect burger. Either bacon or crispy onions, or both. No George Foreman I’ve owned has been able to grill both sides of my bacon before, so this was going to be interesting. Simple bit of salad with dried beetroot, peppery watercress, and rocket to add to the texture and flavour. Always has to be a buttery brioche bun! The cheese here is a Monterey Jack spicy cheese melt, but as it was designed for an open grill I didn’t want to risk ruining the OptiGrill so I switched to the same but in a cheese slice instead. And that’s it. Simple. Perfection.
One of things I worried about was that with all the fat being drained away, the burger would be dry and really quite horrible, but it retained moisture really well and came out as I would like them to turn out. I cooked the bacon first, which in hindsight was a bit of a mistake. It had cooked the bacon, both sides of it, to perfection. It was just the right amount of crisp, but still tasting of bacon and not charcoal. Unfortunately, by the time I had switched to burgers and cooked them well done, the bacon had gone cold and a little too dry and crispy. Next time I’d cook the burgers first and while they’re resting, I’d cook the bacon.
So here it is, my perfect burger, cooked to perfection by the Tefal OptiGrill:
Disclaimer: This is a sponsored collaborative post with Tefal UK