10270226.jpgWhen summer comes around, it’s BBQ season at my house. We use our BBQ almost every day for grilling everything from beef, chicken, vegetables, and even fruit occasionally. There’s definitely something about grilled food—it’s healthier than frying, you don’t lose the nutrients like you would when boiling, and it just tastes fresher than any other method of cooking.

But there are few drawbacks to just grilling on your BBQ. To start, unless you want to freeze to death, you’re limited to just grilling in the summer. Canadian winters don’t really make me want to stand outside tending my BBQ. I’m also not a very patient watcher/waiter when it comes to BBQing. I know some people like to stand over the grill to ensure everything you’re BBQing comes out perfectly, but I never have time for that when I’m buzzing around the kitchen and creating a big meal.

That’s why all it took was one set of steaks cooked on the T-fal Optigrill Non-stick grill and it was time for my BBQ to step aside and let a handier appliance take over.

You can cook meat from frozen, grill everything from sandwiches to dessert, and it’s so easy to store and clean up, you’ll grill all year round. Here’s what I found out when I tested out the T-fal Optigrill.

Appearance

opti-grill-test.jpg

The first thing I noticed about the T-fal Optigrill is that it’s not very heavy. Considering it’s made up of heavy duty grilling plates, that both surprised me and made me very happy. That means it’s easy to haul in and out of the cupboard when I need it.

In the box there’s the grill, a drip tray, the instruction manual, and a cookbook full of recipes you can try. The grill itself is really room, and you can easily fit three small steaks or two mid-sized sandwiches.

Specifications

On the front of the grill is a handle and several buttons you can press for cook settings including frozen, steak, hot dogs/sausage, sandwiches, a manual button, and the food sensor indicator that lets you know when your food is finished grilling. The food sensor moves from pink during pre-heat all the way around the dial to your choice of how done you’d like your meat.

The grill itself is made from non-stick aluminum. Here’s a quick video from T-fal that goes over the main features.

Test

As I’ve mentioned, I love the idea of grilling indoors whenever and wherever I’d like to, but the feature that really intrigued me on the T-fal Optigrill is the frozen setting. According to the manual, you should be able to take a steak or chicken straight out of your freezer, put it on the grill, and it will cook itself to perfection without you having to tend to it.

So that’s what I did—I took two small steaks out of the freezer, put them on the grill, and hit the frozen setting. It takes about 3 minutes for the grill to pre-heat and then it’s off to the races.

Rare-optigrill.jpg

Although I felt a little nervous about potentially spoiling our steak dinner, I decided to let the T-fal do all the work and not check it at all until the timer went off.

The timer will go off when it reaches levels of rare, medium rare, and so on. I’m not a meat eater, but my husband likes his steak rare so once the sensor indicated we were at the rare stage I opened it up and there were two perfectly cooked steaks.

I have to admit, I was sort of surprised, and the men in my family were pleasantly surprised when they ate it. It was juicy without being dry, and very easy to cut through.

With steak a success, we were onto grilled cheese sandwiches. The T-fal Optigrill cookbook has an amazing recipe for 3 cheese grilled cheese on French bread, so I put them together according to the instructions, turned on the sandwich setting, and let them cook until the timer went off. There’s a running joke in my family that Dad makes great grilled cheese, but Mom’s grilled cheese is always ‘California roasted.’ That phrase dates back to a trip we took to California where I offered to make grilled cheese, but every time I cooked one, it burnt black on one side.

That’s why my daughter was standing there when the timer went off, and she was pretty thrilled that Mom hadn’t messed up the grilled cheese again. It was so good it was quickly consumed, so I didn’t have a chance to take a photo.

The other major setting on the T-fal Optigrill is the manual setting. It comes in handy if you’re grilling something you don’t want to use the sensor with. I wanted to heat up a sandwich we bought somewhere else, but only wanted to have it lightly grilled. I just turned on the T-fal Optigrill, let it preheat, and hit the manual button. You can grill for as long as you’d like with that setting.

The only thing I would absolutely recommend when using the T-fal Optigrill is to always use the drip tray to catch the drips from whatever you’re cooking. Otherwise, you might have a puddle on your kitchen cupboard.

Clean upgrill.jpg

I have a Panini press I’ve used to grill food when pressed for time or when I couldn’t go outside, so I was wondering what the difference would be with the T-fal Optigrill. The main thing I noticed is that the grill plates slope down on the T-fal Optigrill while the Panini press stay flat, so any drips from your meat will go straight into the drip tray. This is really handy for cleanup. Everything just drops right off into the tray, you rinse the tray, and you’re done.

If you’ve used a marinade on your steak or any type of sauce, you’ll end up with some of it embedded in the grill after you’ve done cooking. The grooves on the grill are fairly shallow, so all I did was run a finger along it and it loosened up easily. Then just wipe it down and put it away.

 

Evaluation

There are a lot of reasons why I’d add the T-fal Optigrill to my kitchen. You can get that grilled taste anytime of the year and it’s small enough to store anywhere so you don’t have to have a big BBQ to grill with.

But the best reason to buy the T-fal Optigrill is that you can just put your food on the grill and forget about it. The T-fal Optigrill sensor button is far and away one of the best features I’ve ever found in a small appliance, giving you the freedom to do other things without worrying about whether your food is burning or if you’ve just blackened your sandwich. Anything that saves time in the kitchen is something I’m a big fan of.

You can add the T-fal Optigrill Non-Stick Grill to your kitchen right now by visiting Bestbuy.ca.


Shelly Wutke

By Shelly Wutke, Editor Appliances and Home & Lifestyle

From blenders to laptop computers, I like to take everything I write and put a personal spin on it. As a Vancouver freelancer for 5 years, I’ve written for the Globe & Mail, The Vancouver Province, Chicken Soup for the Soul (grab your hanky, that one is a tear jerker), and on too many websites to list. My personal website is at survivemag.com and if you like Twitter, come find me and chat at @kidswap.