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Electric Grills or "BBQs"


jrshaul
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I'm moving into a shoebox-sized apartment in one week, and was hoping someone had some insight into the topic of electric barbecues. Living in a single room makes the use of the stove an unpleasant prospect between June and August, but combustion-driven cooking is forbidden on the balcony by fire code. I've seen several solutions to this problem ranging from a ridged cast iron griddle on a hot plate to high-zoot quartz IR elements, and was wondering which might be the best step-up from the electric pan in my closet. An electric approximation of the Japanese "Shichirin" mini-grill would be ideal, if such an object exists.

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I have an indoor "smokeless" electric grill - Mine is made by Zojirushi but one of my neighbors has this one

Which costs much less and works just as well as mine and has a larger cooking surface.

You put water in the bottom pan and that makes it smokeless.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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Does your oven have a broiler? Most of the items you want to grill (heat from bottom) versus broil (heat from top) are not going to take long or heat up your kitchen (well your room). I get some great grilled pork and beef marinated (Korean style is a favorite) and tucked under the broiler on crinkled foil for under ten minutes. Nice char on the edges and no mess and little heat throw off.

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Does your oven have a broiler? Most of the items you want to grill (heat from bottom) versus broil (heat from top) are not going to take long or heat up your kitchen (well your room). I get some great grilled pork and beef marinated (Korean style is a favorite) and tucked under the broiler on crinkled foil for under ten minutes. Nice char on the edges and no mess and little heat throw off.

It does, though the "broiler" in question is electric and somewhat dubious as to its' efficacy. The Sanyo electric grill looks very nice, though - I may have to order one myself.

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If outdoor electric cooking is allowed, check out the Meco electric BBQ pits. Various sizes, all pretty compact, on small carts: http://www.amazon.com/Meco-Electric-Grill-Satin-Black/dp/B0007XXNSG/ref=sr_1_17?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1313282088&sr=1-17

I had one for at least 5 years on the front porch of my apartment; it worked fine for things like boneless chicken, pork, seafood/fish, or steaks. Not such a great choice for large hunks of meat or bone-in, low-n-slow, but it got us through grad/law school without charcoal, lighter fluid, or much advance preparation. Turn it on, preheat for a few minutes, and start cooking. I did have to replace the element once, but it was readily available as a separate part & pretty cheap.

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I was actually going to post yesterday and recommend the MECO grils, but never got around to it.

I had one for several years (because electric is the only thing we're allowed on the terraces in my high-rise), and then one day when I accidentally got locked out there one night during an earlier heatwave, between the ambient temperature and the grill cooking my roast on high, and my partner apparently not able to hear me banging beach chairs against the terrace door trying to attract his attention, I lost interest in grilling outside until we were able to get a terrace door that would not let you lock yourselves outside.

By that time the grill was old and realllllllly filthy, and we decided to get a new one. At Home Depot I saw a similar one that claimed to cook by "infra-red" electric heat, the "Char-Broil Infrared Electric Patio Bistro", whose box explained that the incredibly hot "infra-red" elements would give my food that sizzle and char that you can only dream about obtaining from outdoor grilling. So we bought one.

It was a complete piece of crap. No matter how much pre-heating I gave it, it couldn't cook a piece of meat past "gray" - it was a joke how pathetic it was; even when I dropped pieces of beef fat right on the elements, I got nothing - it never got hot enough to flame up from them - so we un-assembled it and sent it back to Amazon.

And, a very little bit of googling let me find the Meco grill that we used to have.

The difference is like night and day. The MECO get sufficiently hot that if you're cooking anything with fat, or if you put some pieces of fat next to what you're grilling, or render some beef fat and drizzle it on the grill, you can get a flame with which to char your meat!:

steaks-grilling.jpg

The entire series of photos of how I cooked that steak on the Meco is here:

http://guyarts.com/steak.html

But the Meco is DEFINITELY the way to go !!! I got the one with the optional rotisserie, and that works great too.

Overheard at the Zabar’s prepared food counter in the 1970’s:

Woman (noticing a large bowl of cut fruit): “How much is the fruit salad?”

Counterman: “Three-ninety-eight a pound.”

Woman (incredulous, and loud): “THREE-NINETY EIGHT A POUND ????”

Counterman: “Who’s going to sit and cut fruit all day, lady… YOU?”

Newly updated: my online food photo extravaganza; cook-in/eat-out and photos from the 70's

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I was actually going to post yesterday and recommend the MECO grils, but never got around to it.

Those look excellent, though they are just a bit out of my price range. Here's hoping I can find one cheap on eBay.

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The Sanyo mentioned above is decent for things like Korean beef (in a sugar-rich marinade/glaze), but I have never considered it an alternative for something like a nice steak. The problem with most electric grills is that they try to produce heat over too large an area for the limited power they can consume.

If steak is what you're after and if I couldn't grill, I'd look at a technique like that published in Cooks' Illustrated and blogged here with photos which raises temperature in an oven, then pan sears to finish as an alternative. I have used the technique several times (using a toaster oven) and find it reliable and tasty. (I tend more toward the 85-90 deg. F internal temperature on exiting the oven for the steaks I have used.)

If you're willing to watch the thermometer in the pot for an hour or two (depending on how thick the steak is), sous vide style (Ziploc Freezer bag in a pot of water on the range for a low-cost approach to short-term cooking) with a torch finish may result in even better results. Make sure you understand the food-safety concerns related to low temperature cooking as well.

Edited by jeffsf (log)
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Hi;

This is my first post and since I'm a bbq fanatic I thought I would chime in on this topic.

A friend of mine lives in a condo in Toronto and the rules there state that he cannot operate an open flame bbq on his balcony regardless if it's gas or electric. That meant he couldn't even use the type of grills mentioned here like the Meco. The heat density of the element below the cooking grate is so hot that it can ignite grease and cause severe flare-ups as shown above. So, I recommended the PowerChef grill to him. He got an exception from his condo association because there's over 30 feet of element in the grill and it doesn't get hot enough to cause flare-ups. The neat thing about the grill is you sit your food directly on the elements which makes cooking much more efficient. He loves it and swears it's as good as gas. Anyways, it's a great grill to take a look at too.

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  • 1 month later...

+1 on the meco.I have one thats probably 20 years old and I use it every so often when I dont want to fire up the Kamado, It works good, but I leave out the water in the water bath thing in it...

Bud

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