Like most people, I enjoy a good grilled cheese sandwich. So when the foodie fad for “Panini” or pressed grilled sandwiches took hold here in the US a few years ago I have to admit that I embraced it completely. We started out using a medium sized Foreman grill (model: GR26CB) but I was unsatisfied with the amount of pressure it delivered as well as issues I noticed that it had with low heat and uneven browning.
Recommend this product?
So last year we decided to “upgrade” to the DeLonghi CGH800-U Sandwich Maker and see if there was any real improvement in overall quality.
What is it?
The DeLonghi CGH800-U Sandwich Maker is a sandwich press/grilling machine designed to cook Panini style sandwiches and to grill meats and vegetables on the countertop. It measures 14.8 x 14.1 x 6 inches weighs 12.6 pounds with an exterior of black plastic and steel that has been polished to a mirror-like finish. The interior cooking surface consists of non-removable, non-stick upper and lower plates with raised sections to promote “grill marks” on the food while it is cooking. The lower plate is designed with a small lip to one side to allow for excess grease or other liquids to have somewhere drain from.
The CHH800-U is designed with a “retro” appearance similar to appliances seen in the 1950’s.
It comes out of the box with the sandwich maker, a collection tray for catching grease, an instruction manual/cookbook and a warranty card.
How well has it worked?
So far it has worked very well for us. The lid to this sandwich maker has proven to be a bit heavier than the one on our Foreman grill and along with the fact that this lid can pivot this helps to insure even pressure across our food when cooking. The variable temperature control allows us to adjust the heat as needed although I do admit that for most of what we do we tend to crank it up to the maximum setting.
The heating elements in the upper and lower plates seem to be nicely distributed as evidenced by the very even cooking all over the surface area. Cooking two sandwiches at a time results in both having evenly browned bread. As for cooking other items like burgers or chicken breasts, the DeLonghi sandwich maker does seem to do a better job cooking them than our old Foreman grill did. I attribute this mainly to the variable temperature control and the fact that I believe that the DeLonghi machine is capable of reaching higher temperatures than the Forman grill was thus helping to insure better browning.
The cooking plates on the DeLonghi machine are non-removable and since the appliance isn’t rated to be immersed in water this means that cleaning is limited to wiping the grilling surfaces down with a wet cloth. I am pleased to note that the non-stick coating on the machine is very effective and I have yet to have any real difficulty getting food off of the grill plates. Even melted/burnt cheese has come off easily.
Due to the grooved shape of the grilling plates you will need to make certain to carefully go over all of them in order to make sure that you get the sandwich maker completely clean. I do have to admit though that despite the fact that you have to manually clean the DeLonghi machine with wet towels the whole process only takes a minute or two and thus isn’t very tedious or time consuming.
Some things you should know.
~ While the machine has a variable temperature control, there is no on/off switch so the only way to shut the sandwich maker off completely is to unplug it which can be a bit awkward at times.
~ The DeLonghi sandwich maker will get VERY hot when in use, especially the top of the unit. Under no circumstances should you attempt to touch the sandwich maker without gloves/mitts anywhere except for the handles while it is in operation or else you –will- be burned.
~ While the lid/top plate will tilt to help provide even pressure to what you are cooking it is not “free moving” or loose enough to automatically adjust to most items, especially sandwiches, and will require you to manually adjust the angle of the lid in order to provide an even application of pressure. However as noted above, always use insulated gloves when making these adjustments due to how hot the sandwich maker gets while in use.
~ Based upon the size of the cooking surfaces it is impractical to attempt to cook more than two sandwiches or four chicken breasts on this machine at one time.
The DeLonghi Sandwich Maker comes with a one year warranty against defects in workmanship and materials and only provides coverage for the original purchaser. You can contact the company at:
De’Longhi America Inc.
Park 80 West Plaza One, 4th floor
Saddle Brook N.J. 07663
Ultimately we have been pleased with this purchase as it has worked better for us than the Forman Grill that we had been using previously. It does a very nice job grilling sandwiches and entrée portions for two and so we are happy with it.
However in hindsight I do think that we might have wanted to consider other products from similar companies which offer the options of removable grilling plates and an on/off switch.
Amount Paid (US$): 50