Until just over a decade ago, grilling a juicy hamburger or a hearty steak for dinner was the exclusive domain of the homeowner. Barbecues and hibachis were often forbidden in apartments because of their high flammability factor, and grilling was just a pipe dream for the average college student. But in 1995, the pleas of the college student and perennial apartment dweller were answered by Salton, Inc., an American home appliance manufacturer. It was that year in which Salton, Inc. introduced their line of indoor grills, now famous for their endorsement by former World Heavyweight Boxing Champion George Foreman.
Through innovative design, recognizable endorsement, and a heavyweight marketing campaign, the George Foreman Lean Mean Fat Reducing Grilling Machine has nowadays become easily the most popular indoor cooking appliance, not just in North America but also around the world.
The key to the whole design of the George Foreman Grill is the slanted grilling surface, which drains fat and grease from cooking meat. All George Foreman Grills come packaged with specially designed drip trays which are custom-fitted to the design of the particular grill. Much like a true gas or charcoal grill, most of the fat drains into this drip tray, away from the cooking meat, improving the health appeal of the meat itself. It is this differentiation from other indoor cooking techniques, such as frying or broiling, which has allowed the George Foreman Grill line to corner the market on indoor meat cookers.
But does it work? Well, the evidence is pretty clear in your drip tray at the conclusion of your cooking: the fat definitely drips off the meat and out of the grill during the cooking process; however, it should also be noted that quite a bit of the grease actually sticks to the teflon grilling plates themselves as well. The grilled food itself doesn’t suffer in taste though; in fact, the end result is far superior to traditional frying. But I do find that, depending on what you are cooking and how well you want the inside done, the outside will always be cooked to a dark brown and will have a “gummy” texture. This won’t affect the food in any way, but it doesn’t have that real grill look or feel.
Cleaning up after cooking with your George Foreman Grill can be a bit of a chore. The George Foreman Grills come packaged with a plastic spatula, which is supposed to help you scrape the gummy residue from between the ridges of the teflon plates; however, I find that a wet sponge or paper towel are more effective. Regardless of what you use to clean your George Foreman Grill, you will have two teflon plates to clean, and you will end up with tons of grease scrapings all over the counter. Newer models now have detachable teflon plates for easier clean-up in the sink. The drip trays which are also included with each George Foreman Grill have a nice curved lip which allows for easy disposal of excess grease into a jar or can.
Despite humble beginnings, the George Foreman Grill has become a household name and almost twenty different models are being manufactured and sold today, from as low as $20 for the smallest grill to over $120 for the largest ones. Overall, Salton, Inc. has sold more than 80 million George Foreman Grills worldwide – to apartment renters and now even to homeowners.
Since university, I have learned quite a few cooking techniques; but as a young man in my freshman and sophomore years, I don’t know what I would have done without my George Foreman Grill.