About Broiling


To broil is to cook with a direct heat source, usually a gas flame or an electric coil which is located above the food. Broiling is sometimes called grilling.

Professional broilers, which have an adjustable broiler at eye level that makes it easy to control the cooking, are far more practical than home broilers, but home broilers can be effective if you use them properly.

Always preheat you broiler for at least 5 minutes before sliding in any food so the heating element has time to get hot. Some cooks like to line the broiler rack with aluminum foil to make it easier to clean. However it is not recommended because the foil can collect the liquid released by the meat or seafood, which in turn will cause the food to steam. To prevent the surface of foods from drying out under the broiler, rub the foods with a little oil before cooking.

The only way to regulate the heat of a home broiler is to adjust the height of the rack that holds the food. Thin pieces of meat or seafood should be placed closer to the heat source so they brown quickly without overcooking. Red meat being served rare also should be broiled very close to the source so it browns quickly before it overcooks. Slower-cooking foods, such as chicken, which must be cooked completely through, should be broiled farther away from the heat source so they don't brown too much before they are cooked. If you're unsure, keep a close eye on the food and adjust the broiler rack height accordingly.

At times, the broiler is used just to brown the top of cooked dishes, such as gratins, that don't brown enough in the oven. To brown these foods, just slide the dish under the preheated broiler. Move the dish around as necessary so the surface browns evenly, and watch it like a hawk as a broiler can char the surface very quickly.

You can also use a broiler to cook very quick-cooking dishes, such as thinly sliced seafood, directly on the serving plate. To prepare such dishes, each portion of the thinly sliced seafood is carefully spread over a sheet of buttered aluminum foil. Just before serving, the dinner plate is heated in the oven. The foil is inverted over the plate, the foil is peeled away, and the plate slid under the broiler. The plate is rotated (so the seafood cooks evenly) under the broiler for 10 to 20 seconds, usually brushed with a light sauce, and served immediately.

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