What is an Infrared Grill?
For many people, the idea of infrared, which is also known as radiation or radiant energy, is somewhat of a mystery. Infrared energy is all around us, even in sunshine. Like the sun, infrared energy is transferred directly from the source to the object being heated without losing much of its energy, or in the case of the sun or infrared burners, heat. This also allows you to grill foods in the most frigid temperatures with an infrared burner - because the infrared energy is not effected by the cold! Infrared burners, unlike traditional metal burners, are made of ceramic that is heated by the burning gas. And unlike traditional convection burners which reach temperatures of 750 degrees, ceramic infrared burners can quickly sear the surfaces of meats with temperatures up to 900 degrees Fahrenheit.
The first infrared grill was developed by TEC, who is still the leader in infrared grill technology, in 1980 and continued to dominate the market for many years. When their patent ended in 2000, other manufacturers quickly jumped on the infrared wagon and due to high competition within the infrared grilling marketplace, infrared bbq grills quickly improved in efficiency. Today you have a variety of infrared brands to choose from, in everything from freestanding to portable bbqs.
To learn more about TEC grills, read Chef Tony's TEC Grill Review.
Tips for Infrared Grilling
- 1. Pre-heat your infrared grill on high for three to four minutes. Pre-heating will help ensure you have an even grilling area.
- 2. Sear your meats to lock in the natural juices. Letting the meats sear on each side for a couple minutes (no more than three) will help caramelize the outside and lock in the juices and flavor.
- 3. Once you have seared the outside of the meats, lower the temperature on the infrared grill and continue to grill as you normally would.
- 4. Use a food thermometer to check the temperature of your meats. Never cut the meat open, this will "break the seal" and cause your foods to dry out.
- 5. Don't close the hood. With infrared grills the heat is sent directly to the meats without loss of energy. The grill hood is a nice way to keep dust and dirt off the cooking surface when not in use.
- 6. Don't dive right into your food after grilling. The infrared energy used for grilling continues to cook the foods even after it is removed from the grilling surface. Allow your meats to sit for about five minutes to allow the temperature to become even throughout.
- 7. Clean the grill by turning the temperature back to high. This will sear any food particles and residue for a quick and easy clean-up!
Benefits of Infrared Grills
- Infrared grills heat up faster and utilize less energy and gas than traditional grills.
- The design of the infrared grills, which places the heating device below the ceramic element allows for more even heating, meaning less hot and cold spots while grilling.
- Because of the higher temperatures, foods will cook more quickly. This helps in keeping the fluids of foods locked in for better tasting meats.
- Infrared heating means the heat is sent directly to the food. This allows you to grill with the lid open and watch your food cook without the fear of losing precious heat.
- With infrared, juices drip directly on to the burner and vaporize instantly, meaning less flare-ups while grilling.
- The high heat from infrared burners sears foods more quickly, locking in juices for tastier meats.
- With less time spent standing next to the grill, you can make grilling an everyday event - not just a weekend luxury.
- Infrared grills are versatile and allow you to cook everything, from steaks and chicken to seafood and vegetables, like a pro.
- Because they take less time to heat up and grill foods, infrared grills are an energy efficient, or green, option over convection gas and charcoal grilling.
What About Hybrid Infared?
In the past few years many advances have been made in the infrared grill industry. One of the most interesting has been the creation of hybrid infrared grills. These gas grills offer a combination of traditional convection burners with an infrared burner on one end which allows you to grill all of your favorite vegetables and other foods that require lower temperatures on one end while searing steaks over the infrared burner. This also allows for a quick transition after searing to a lower temperature to continue grilling. if you are looking for a truly versatile gas grill, an infrared hybrid is probably your best bet.
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Read more articles by Chef Tony Matassa, ShoppersChoice.com, LLC.