Many chefs attest that broiling is the best way to cook steak, poultry or fish. There is also an entertainment value to a broiler if you operate an open kitchen where customers are able to see the flames or hear the sizzle that whets their appetite. Broilers can be utilised for many purposes; from the typical grilling of produce in large quantities to melting cheeses, making it one important piece of equipment in the kitchen.
1. UPRIGHT BROILERS
Also called over-fired broilers, the heat source comes from above and differs according to its uses and energy. Because of its differing purposes, upright broilers are further divided into three categories in general:
i) Freestanding units that are fitted with high-input energy to cook meats quickly and in large quantities. Usually built with two decks stacked vertically, loading and unloading is made easy as well as the ability to adjust the deck to a higher level for quick cooking or lower for slower cooking. Some manufacturers provide an option by mounting a finishing oven on top of the broiler as the heat source on the broiler’s top can be used to provide heat to the bottom of the oven’s cavity. Energy input to the burners is usually controlled by two knobs placed on the outside of the decks.
ii) Low-input (usually cheesemelters) that can be countertop, wall mounted or installed above a rangetop. It is not as expansive in terms in performance abilities but can be considered if there are numerous items on the menu requiring melted cheese. In some cases, a cheesemelter can be found underneath a charbroiler (under-fire) to utilise the heat that is radiated downwards.
iii) Salamander broiler has an energy input between cheesemelters and uprights, typically installed at eye level above a rangetop. It is used to cook the identical range of food as an upright boiler but on a lower volume and saves floor or counter space. Its broiling cavity is typically 12 inches deep and has a lower energy input rate to match its smaller size.
2. CHARBROILER / UNDER-FIRE
Available in countertops, cabinet base or stainless steel frame, charbroilers cook by using radiant energy as generated by heating elements built in below the grid to cook food that is placed on a cast iron grate above the heat source. There are two options for charbroilers- one that allows heat source to heat till a cherry red colour and uses the radiance to broil the food. The other type uses a heating source to heat lava rocks or ceramic briquettes (block of flammable material). Using rocks or briquettes enables more even distribution of cooking heat compared to heat source alone. Two-thirds of the iron grate is usually designed to receive more heat than the front section and the grate is adjustable to either level or tilted positions. Users can look for models that have appliances fastened on the iron top grates that provide an avenue for excess fat to drain into a large grease drawer for disposal.
However, a charbroiler requires preheating due to its usage of heating material and cannot be turned “on” and “off” on demand. Additionally, it requires more effort to maintain because the heating radiants are below the cooking surface and also catches materials falling from the iron grate.