The Tefal OptiGrill is a stand alone grill which uses technology to improve results. Sensors determine the thickness of what’s being cooked, and the user selects a category: fish, or one of a range of different types of meat. The grill uses these two pieces of information to show, by changing the colour of the LED cooking level indicator on the handle how well cooked any particular item is at any point.
It’s simple to use. Switch it on (remember to wash the plates before the first use – this is not mentioned in the quick start guide), select what you’re cooking and press the OK button. The cooking level indicator flashes purple, to indicate that the machine is heating up. Once hot, the light stops flashing and the machine beeps. Lift the lid, place the food on the griddle plates and close it; the LED then changes colour, first to blue, and then green to show that cooking has started. The colour then progresses from yellow to orange to red to indicate different levels of done-ness, from rare to well done respectively. Again, each change is accompanied by a beep. For types of meat that should only be cooked all the way through – sausages, burgers or poultry, for example, then only at the final well done stage does it beep.
We were impressed with the results we achieved. Strips of chicken breast were cooked all the way through, but remained succulent. Sausages were well – but not over – cooked (albeit a little flattened by the top grill plate), with good charred stripes; cooking burgers to the recommended well done stage resulted in a patty that was still moist and juicy.
Grills are generally quite large, and the OptiGrill is no different, measuring 37 centimeters square by 17 high, and weighing 4.9 kilos. It’s no shrinking violet: it’s big and chunky, and designed to look that way. The grilling surface is a good size at 28cm x 19 cm, and the grilling plates are inclined so that any fat runs off into the detachable tray. The ridged grilling plates are easily removed when cool, and both plates and the fat tray are dishwasher safe. There are settings for burgers, poultry, bacon, sausages, red meat, and fish. Grills have other uses than meat, of course; although we haven’t explored in detail, I’m sure that toasting sandwiches or panini, for example, is easily achieved.
For those who, like us, are eating less meat and don’t grill or cook meat that often, then the guidance offered by the OptiGrill could be a real help to ensure that we end up meat cooked as wished, rather than be faced with the disappointing discovery that accompanies overcooking. Similarly, it would be great for teenagers, making sure they don’t poison themselves when the urge for a 2am burger strikes. Gadgets are frequently a solution looking for a problem, but the OptiGrill has shown us that technology can really help produce better results in the kitchen. It sells for about £140, so a premium of about 50% over comparably sized plain electric grills, or in other terms, about four or good steaks five steaks. In those terms, the value for money equation makes good sense.
Many thanks to Tefal for our review OptiGrill, and to Asda for some BBQ goodies to cook on it.