Experiment Gear

Gear: Cuisinart Griddler, first look

The Cuisinart Griddler, in closed position with the grill plates on. The styling looks similar to other Cuisinart stuff, so it matches the rest of my kitchen gear nicely.

A couple of months ago, our household George Foreman Grill gave up the lean, mean ghost. It couldn’t be saved. We mourned its loss, and we took it as a sign – it was time to trade up to a Cuisinart “Griddler.”

To say I have a thing for Cuisinart is like saying the Queen has a thing for hats. From pots and pans to the retro-cool coffeemaker to the kettle to the slow cooker to Ol’ Bertha, my spectacular 1,000-watt mixer, Cuisinart products are a staple in our home. Giving the Griddler a try was a no-brainer.

What is a Griddler? It’s a multifunction grilling gizmo that looks like a panini press. There’s a top and a bottom, and a hinge that connects the two halves. It comes with flat griddle cooking surfaces as well as ridged grill-style non-stick metal cooking plates. It can be used as a contact-grill, much like the George Foreman contraption, as well as a fold-flat grill or griddle. Can it press sandwiches? You betcha. To see it in action, there’s a cringe-worthy overview video on the Cuisinart website that gives the impression that the Griddler is cheap infomercial junk. It must be seen to be believed.

 

Grillin' up some pineapple slices. Yum!

We’ve had the thing for several weeks, and we’ve used it a number of times for a variety of tasks. Here’s what I think of the Griddler so far:

Build Quality: Seems solid enough, though the fit and finish is a grade below what I’m used to from Cuisinart. The latches feel cheap, the grill/griddle plates always seem a bit loose, and the way the lid hinge swings wasn’t thought out well enough.

Indoor BBQ: Do not EVER forget that you’re grilling inside; make sure there’s adequate ventilation to suck away the steam. Our first grill-use was for some spicy Jamaican jerk chicken, and as soon as the chicken hit the grill, the cloud of steam and grease coming off the Griddler turned our apartment into a lung-burning zone of borderline asphyxiation. The dinner was delicious, but my eyes hurt for hours.

Spatter: This is an issue. Be prepared to wipe up plenty of spattering fat and veggie/meat juices from the counter.

Griddle Me This: I used it to cook a batch of blueberry pancakes, and the griddle plates worked like a charm. Laid out flat, there’s enough room to cook four pancakes at a time. I liked this very much.

Panini Press: Made some pretty awesome Reuben sammiches with this thing. Light pressure from the top helps to adequately squish the sandwich while cooking. My only complaint is that the hinge pushes the top of the sandwich back from the rest of the sandwich instead of pressing straight down. This can cause problems with cheese seepage/spillage.

Look at those lovely lines on the panini. It's a shame the hinge forces the top of the sandwich to sheer away from the bottom. A bit of a design flaw, that.

Practicality: The plates are dishwasher safe, which is nice. But you’ll need to pre-wash them, scraping away any stuck-on grease or sauce with the provided plastic tool, or else the dishwasher won’t get all the gunk from the grill-plate ridges. Lesson learned.

Compared to George Foreman: On the plus side, the Griddler is more solid than my old Foreman Grill. The griddle plates make it more versatile than the Foreman Grill, and being able to spread it flat as a BBQ surface is a nice touch. That said, the Griddler doesn’t channel fat away as well as the Foreman Grill. The grilling surface isn’t at a steep angle, so the fat and juices pool under what’s being cooked. There’s a corner spot on the Griddler for fat to drip through, but gravity clearly favours the Foreman design.

I hope that’s at least marginally helpful information. I’ll try to follow up with another post in the winter, once I’ve had a chance to put it through its paces.

Jerk chicken on the grill, a cooking experience that filled our entire apartment with lung-burning hot-pepper fumes. Ouch.

RATINGS AND DETAILS

Cost: Normally around $150. Found it on sale for $100. Watch for sales at Home Outfitters.

Value for cash money: Good, considering how many things it does. It’s also quite sturdy.

Availability: Places that stock other Cuisinart stuff. In Canada, try chains like The Bay, Home Outfitters, Canadian Tire, etc.

The verdict: I’m liking it. Worked well for chicken breasts, was great for panini, and cooked pancakes to perfection. So far, I’m happy with the small investment.

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