Infrared Grills Explained

By Danny Chadwick
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Steaks and other meat grilled at a steakhouse have an undeniable texture and flavor. That distinctive experience is provided in part by restaurant-style infrared grills. Dining establishments that pride themselves on cooking and serving quality meals quickly need grills that reach high temperatures swiftly and sustain those temperatures for long periods. Infrared grills achieve both those goals.

Now that infrared grills are becoming more common in people’s backyards, there are some myths that still dissuade some people from buying an infrared grill. Among them are the erroneous beliefs that infrared grills operate on the same principal as a microwave or a toaster oven, or that the lack of an open flame somehow robs the meat of the smoky flavor that defines food cooked at an outdoor barbecue.

Neither of these beliefs is true. The principal difference between an infrared grill and a conventional gas or charcoal grill is the infrared burner. Grill manufacturers design these burners to heat only the grilling surface and not the surrounding air. Hot air dries out food in much the same way that electric hairdryers damage hair follicles. By heating the cooking surface only, the juice and flavor stays locked inside the meat until you bite into it.


The manner by which individual infrared grills achieve this goal varies depending on the manufacturer. However, they all share a unifying element – the grills' ceramic plate. This plate focuses a flame through thousands of small holes that pit its surface. This allows the plate to distribute heat evenly throughout the burner, which in turn produces a uniform temperature on the infrared grill’s cooking surface.

It should be noted that this heating method is technically radiation. Not to worry, though, because it’s the delicious kind of the radiation, not the kind that makes your kitten grow a third eye. No plutonium or other radioactive materials are used in the manufacturing or assembly of an infrared grill.

The intense, focused heat generated by infrared burners allows infrared grills to reach temperatures that are simply unattainable by conventional gas or charcoal grills. Furthermore, the same focused energy enables infrared grills to heat to searing temperatures in a fraction of the time that it takes their gas and charcoal counterparts. These two features combined cook your meat and other food in remarkably short order. The less time your meat is on the grill, the more flavor and juice it retains.

Another consideration that arguably makes infrared grills superior to conventional grills is safety. The lack of an open flame on the infrared element greatly reduces the likelihood of an accidental fire. Additionally, the uniform heat distribution on the cooking surface not only eliminates hot and cold spot on the grills, but it also greatly reduces flare-ups. With an infrared grill, you will not singe your eyebrows off by accident when wayward fat drips into the grill.

At the end of the day, people's unfamiliarity with the technology is the main hurdle blocking infrared grills from being accepted into the mainstream. The word itself conjures images of futuristic microwaves and laser beams in the minds of some. When you learn how infrared grills actually work, however, you will probably be motivated to put down some cash based only on the belief that your new infrared grill will provide a notably superior grilling experience.


 
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