I know, I know, this is an odd one. It’s a little old, a little outdated and quite frankly, a little goofy. For those of you who know me, just owning one is nothing short of sacrilege. I pride myself on my kitchen, my knives, my pots and pans. Although I do enjoy grilling, I would never in my life have previously considered grilling inside my home with what amounts to a Panini press with ridges. But alas and alack, at the time of this purchase I was not home. I was on the road working. For months. In a furnished apartment which came equipped with all of the basic necessities required to exist in today’s America. I had a toaster, a microwave, a full-sized stove and oven, a sauté pan, and 2 sizes of pots. I had one small glass bowl, a set of plastic nesting bowls and the crappiest knife block ever created. The steak knives were dull, the butcher knife was duller, and oddly enough the bread knife didn’t event work. I ask you, how can a bread knife not work? I have yet to answer that question, but what I do know is that there was definitely no Ginsu action here. No one was cutting any tin cans with these babies. I have heard the expression “so dull it wouldn’t’ cut through butter,” but I’ve never actually seen it in action. And the bread knife, bless it’s little serrated soul, didn’t actually cut the bread, but instead mostly just tore it. It was almost like the ridges on the blade went the wrong way, but that’s just not possible, is it?
Suffice it to say that this was not my ideal kitchen. I usually enjoy cooking, but when I moved into this temporary location, I was very happy to have restaurants of every ethnicity within walking distance. In fact upon walking into this new space I believe the first words out of my mouth were “there’s no fucking way I’m cooking in here”. Aside from the terrible accoutrements, the space itself was too small to make a sandwich. You think I’m kidding? The refrigerator door hit the door to the small space containing the washer and dryer when I opened it. All I can say is it’s a good thing there’s a little anorexia in my history, there’s no way anyone over 150 lbs could move around in there.
After about 2 weeks of restaurant-prepared dinners, my lovely wife thought that cooking at home would be just lovely. It would be simple and taste just like we were home. We could pretend. I wasn’t thrilled about the idea, but I love her so I conceded. We decided on grilled chicken (free-range, blessed with the Humane Society seal), asparagus and little potatoes. Nothing too complicated, and the apartment complex had propane grills scattered throughout the property. I had planned on grilling outside, but the thought of toting food up and down 6 stories just wasn’t working for me after a full day at work, so the oven went on. This is where the problem arose. We had nothing to cook any of those items on. No cookie sheets, no Pyrex pans, no nothing. The best we had was the sauté pan, which at least didn’t have a plastic handle so I suppose I could have put it in the oven, but I just wasn’t trusting that to not be a big problem. Thankfully I had thought to buy aluminum foil when I first went shopping. Two hours and one small nervous breakdown later, dinner was ready. I swore I’d never cook in that fucking kitchen again.
And then the lovely wife suggested the George Foreman Grill. I believe I sneered. Then I think I laughed. Then I probably said something really rude and crass because that’s just the kind of girl I am. I cook. I like to cook. If I can’t cook, I eat out. I don’t use weird culinary devices that sell themselves as “fat grilling machines,” that’s just wrong, a little weird, and completely against my pseudo-foodie ethic. But again, I love my wife, so I conceded.
Off we went to Target to get the frightening kitchen-assistant. I’m not a snob about a lot of things, my clothes have been in my closet for an average of 8 years, my jewelry is mostly made of pooka shells and beads purchased from the gem show in Tucson and my favorite chair is a 15 year old chair and a half, the pillows eaten by the dog and the legs picked by the cat. But I take pride in my kitchen and I buy my pans at Williams-Sonoma, not Target. My knives are Henckel’s and the only thing I want out of life is a 6 burner Viking stove. I have my priorities.
But there I was in Target. On a Saturday. Buying a George Foreman Grill. Oh, how the mighty have fallen.
Immediately upon purchase, I was told, once again that I would not be disappointed by this devious device. I was told, actually, I’d be pleasantly surprised by both its ease of use and its cleanup. We decided the virgin meal was to be steak (organic, grass fed only), carrots and sweet potatoes. Fast, easy and since we’re usually protein deficient, we’d eat it no matter what it tasted like.
Let me first say that because of the lack of quality of my knives, the sweet potato chunks were completely uneven. In the oven, the thickest one would have taken at least an hour. The carrots were whole, bunch with only the green tops cut off. All these items were marinated in olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper (come on, I can’t completely give up the ghost), but all were also very thick and, as previously stated, would have taken at least an hour in the oven on 400˚. A 400˚ oven, in this small space on this oh-so-unseasonably hot day would have created chaos. The grill a la Foreman did no such thing. The heat required to cook those items in under 30 minutes stayed where it was required, the ridged plates surrounding the food.
Our dinner was done in about 27 minutes and before I even had the plates to the table, the George Foreman Grill was clean and put away. The food itself was pretty good too. The steaks had good flavor. The texture was a little bit off from if it had been cooked on an outside grill (I think because there was no sear on the outside), but all it all it was pretty good. The carrots and sweet potatoes were soft and flavorful. They weren’t overcooked and soggy like they would have been if I had microwaved them, so I would have to give the George Foreman Grill a ringing endorsement. Granted nothing is as good as the food that comes out of my kitchen on a good day, but I wasn’t in my kitchen, and I can’t imagine a good day in the kitchen I had. So given the circumstances for me and the impatience of most of the current American population, I’d say give it a go. Both the low emotional and the financial costs make it more than worth while.