As I browsed through Bed Bath and Beyond's Holiday Catalog, my eyes were drawn to the T-fal OptiGrill. After reading the product details, I contacted T-fal about reviewing the OptiGrill and they very kindly sent me a review unit. As I waited for the OptiGrill to arrive, I stumbled upon one of those late night infomercials that was demonstrating the OptiGrill. I sat spellbound as the chef and his assistant put the OptiGrill through its paces. Needless to say, they made it look easy to use, easy to clean, and every item they cooked came out perfectly cooked and yummy. It all looked too good to be true and I was anxious to try the OptiGrill for myself.
In the Box
- T-fal OptiGrill- Grill plates are removable for easy cleaning.
- Extra large drip pan- Sits under the front edge of the grill plates to catch dripping fat.
- Full color recipe book- 'On the Grill' includes 32 recipes and tips for perfect grilling.
- Printed Instruction Manual- Simple step-by-step instructions for setting up and using the OptiGrill.
- Illustrated Quick Start Guide - Colorful guide to setting up and using your OptiGrill.
- Cooking Level Guide- Shows recommended cooking levels for the 6 Automatic Cooking Programs.
- Width 365 mm x Depth 345 mm x Height 180 mm (about 14.4" x 13.5" deep x 7" high).
- Size of plates : 32×22 cm (about 12.6" x 8.66").
- Weight : 5.2 kg (about 11.46 lb.).
When you take the OptiGrill out of the box you will notice the sturdy construction and the brushed stainless steel housing. T-fal put a lot of thought into creating a grill that any cook will love to use. The cooking surface is large enough to accommodate a good sized steak or 5 large hamburgers. The handle that raises and lowers the top remains cool to the touch even after extended cook time. The power cord is shortened to reduced tangles and accidents. The grill plates are die-cast aluminum with nonstick coating and can be easily removed with the press of a button. Cleanup is a snap. Wash the grill plates and drip plate by hand or just stick them in the dishwasher.
T-fal OptiGrill Features
The OptiGrill has 6 Automatic cooking programs. Select from:
- Red Meat
- A Manual setting for Fruits and Vegetables and your own recipes.
- A Frozen Food setting allots extra time to defrost and cook all kinds of food.
- The grill plates are slightly angled for more efficient removal of fat.
- An Extra large removable drip tray catches the fat as it runs off the front of the grill plates.
The T-fal OptiGrill is a unique indoor grill that uses a special sensor that determines the thickness and amount of the food and gives you uniform, predictable results every time. Your food will be perfectly cooked from rare to well-done each time using one of the 6 Automatic program settings. The Manual setting uses a fixed temperature which works well for vegetables, leftovers and your personal recipes.
My first use of the OptiGrill was just hamburgers, but it was the perfect chance to test the frozen food feature. These commercial burgers were all exactly the same size and shape came right from the freezer. Using the excellent manual and full color recipe book that comes with the OptiGrill, I quickly had it set up and ready to cook.
To begin, just plug in the OptiGrill and press the power button to turn it on. The lights on the front control panel show you what to do next. A red backlight highlights each cooking option that is available for the next step. Since I was cooking frozen food, I started by selecting the button with a snowflake for the defrost feature. Then I selected the type of food by pressing the button with a burger. Pressing the OK button starts the OptiGrill preheating.
It takes several minutes to preheat to the correct cooking temperature. On the right side of the control panel you will see the Cooking Level Indicator which is a colorful light display of each step in the preheat and cooking process. The center of the Indicator lights up with a different color for each stage from preheat to well done.
An audible alert sounded and the Indicator light turned pinkish purple color to show that the grill was preheated. The frozen hamburgers were arranged on the grill and the lid with the upper grill plate was lowered to the meat. Almost immediately fat started coming out of the burgers and running into the drip pan. You will be absolutely appalled at the amount of fat that is in our food. You see some of that when you fry a hamburger in a pan but there is a lot more that comes out of the meat when you use the OptiGrill. It took about 10 minutes to defrost and cook the burgers. They were perfectly cooked to well-done and still juicy. There was no splattered grease all over the stove top as there would have been with a frying pan. Cleanup was fast and easy.
My second OptiGrill meal was also hamburgers but this time I used fresh hamburger meat. Since the OptiGrill senses the thickness of the food it's important to make the burgers all the same thickness so all will make proper contact with the grill plates for uniform cooking. The process was the same as the first time except the defrost setting wasn't necessary and the burgers were a bit thicker than the frozen patties. The hamburgers were perfectly cooked and still juicy. Once you taste an OptiGrill burger, you will likely never fry burgers in a pan again. The Sausage Program Setting is great for doing you favorite hot dogs, sausage and pork just as easily.
As the food starts to cook, the Indicator light changes color. Yellow lets you know the meat is rare and there will also be an audible alert with each threshold that is reached. If you want your food cooked rare, just open the OptiGrill and remove the food when the Indicator light is yellow and it beeps. If you prefer medium, wait till the light is orange and it beeps again. Your meat is well-done when the Indicator light is red and beeps. Remove your food at whatever stage suits your taste. I like most meat rare but my husband prefers well-done. The OptiGrill suits all tastes. Just remove the portion that's done to your taste and then close the lid and the remaining food will continue to cook using the sensor.
Next up was a steak large enough to cover most of the bottom grill plate. In order to make a real time comparison, I also put a similarly sized steak on a broiler pan and stuck it under the broiler in my oven. The steak in the oven was already cooking when I started the preheat setting on the OptiGrill. After a few minutes I was able to put the steak in the OptiGrill and start the second steak cooking. In short order, the OptiGrill beeped and the Indicator light was yellow. I opened the OptiGrill and cut off a portion of the beautifully cooked rare steak and removed it. The remaining portion was returned to the grill and continued to cook until the Indicator turned red and the meat was well-done for my husband. When I removed the last piece of steak from the OptiGrill, I opened the oven and turned over the steak that was under the broiler. The OptiGrill had cooked the its steak on both sides in less than half the time it took to broil a steak in the oven. When the steak in the broiler was finally cooked it was perfectly done too, but which would you rather eat, an OptiGrill steak that cooks in half the time with easy cleanup, or a steak cooked in the broiler that takes twice as long to cook, smokes up the house, and leaves a nasty scorched broiler pan to scrub? Bye-bye broiler pan.
The OptiGrill's Sandwich setting can take your leftover turkey, roast beef, or simple cold cuts and turn them into a tasty feast. Just create your sandwich with your favorite ingredients or use one of the recipes included in the beautifully illustrated recipe book that comes with the OptiGrill. Put your masterpiece in the preheated OptiGrill and close the lid and select the Sandwich Program. When you take the sandwich out of the OptiGrill, the bread will be toasted to a delightful crunch and the inside of your sandwich will be hot and flavorful.
Leftover boiled potatoes take on a new dimension when sliced and placed in the OptiGrill using the Manual setting. Those simple potatoes will be crisp on the outside and hot in the center with no resemblance to those bland boiled potatoes from the night before.
This is one of those rare products that fully lives up to and even exceeds expectations. Once you've used the OptiGrill, you will not go back to eating those greasy pan fried burgers and steaks. It will truly change the way you cook and enjoy food.