A Call to Grill! (inside)
Feb 4, 2007 (Updated Feb 4, 2007)
Review by Alan McCluney
Rated a Very Helpful Review
Hear ye dwellers of apartment, condo, and some town homes! We who live without access to 'yard', 'patio', or 'back porch', must we also live without freedom to grill? Must friends and family who come to feast wait while each cut of our barbeque chicken, hamburger or steak, is cooked so slowly, one by one (perhaps two by two), because our small, inadequate, countertop George Foreman two or four person lean/mean grilling machine can fit no more? Are we not citizens free to grill in fat-reducing quantities aplenty? Are we not all equal regardless of outdoor square footage?
Recommend this product?
But there is a solution! A solution brought forth by the same bringer of lean grilling mean-ness who gave us the other counter-top devices we have come to love. This solution is the work of a man with great prowess in fighting fat for our carnivorous cravings, and now, he is a freedom fighter, preserving the rights of the grill-loving masses! He is George Foreman! And he bringeth to us the 'Big George' GGR50B Indoor/Outdoor Electric Barbeque Grill! Indoor-bound denizens rejoice!
To Grill Is Human
Maybe that introduction is a bit over the top. But with over 240 square inches of electric grilling surface area, how else could you cook like you were barbequing outside, inside? Ok, maybe you could get a different electric grill. But then how else could you cook like you were outside AND cook on a fat-reducing George Foreman grilling machine, inside? (rhetorical question)
The George Foreman 'Big George' GGR50B grill is really a big version of the smaller grills, but comes with a floor stand, a lid, a non-stick spatula, a non-stick grill fork, and a temperature control probe/power cord. The grill also comes with a removable inner grease pan, and built into the lid is an adjustable steam vent, with a rubber grill cover holder which I'll describe later. It's also important to note that we received this grill as a wedding gift, so we did not purchase it.
The grill itself is two halves of a plastic sphere. The bottom half is the grill portion, and the top half is the cover. The grill surface is a separate, round metal plate containing the characteristic 'Foreman ridges' on the non-stick cooking side, and flat metal on the other side. On the plate is a receptacle for the power cord. The power cord probe plugs into this, and it has a dial mechanism for setting the temperature of the grill plate.
To assemble the Big Foreman is simple. This is a basic synopsis (but be sure to follow the directions): For the base, two pole segments fit together easily and are secured with pop-out pins. The pole assembly is then pressure fit into the base pedestal with minor force. For the main grill, set the bottom half of the sphere on a flat surface. Place within it the grease trap. Then clean the plate as directed, and simply insert the probe receptacle on the plate into an opening on the lower half of the grill, then set the grill plate on its formed holders over the grease pan. For the lid, take the parts as directed and screw them together. Then simply take the grill assembly, and place it on top of the grill pedestal pole. That's it. Almost all parts are held in place with gravity. In fact the main pieces are not even pressure fit. You can actually rotate the grill on the stand, and the cook plate merely rests on its formed supports. (This of course both good and bad. It makes assembly and disassembly easy, and it makes cleanup a snap, but it also means you must be very careful when moving the unit, especially if hot.)
The dimensions of the grill are:
-Height: 19.65 in.
-Width: 10.8 in.
-Depth: 18.5 in.
-Weight: 23.2 lbs.
-Grill plate: 17.5 in. diameter, 240 in/sq.
-Cord length: about 6 1/2 feet.
In addition to the items that come with the grill, other features are as follows:
-Center channel drains fat into large grease tray
-Non-stick coated cooking surface
-Immersible grill plate with probe removed
-MegaDome lid with adjustable steam vent, and lid holder
-Adjustable temperature control
Cooking with Big George
Cooking with the Foreman Big George grill is as easy as using his other grills, if not easier. You simply make sure the cooking plate is clean, and plug it in. Then adjust the temperature to the recommended setting outlined in the instruction manual. The fact that you can even adjust the grill temperature makes it easier to attain the proper heat for your particular food, which is not the case on many other Foreman grill models.
To cook, after setting the grill to the appropriate temperature, wait for the heat light to turn off, indicating that the grill is ready. The plate heats up relatively quickly, so you do not have to wait too long. Then simply place your meats on the surface, and let them cook. There are recipes and suggested temperatures in the manual. The recommended temperature settings appear to be about right for hamburgers or chicken. I have not tried any of the included prepared recipes.
The smoke level from the grill is really not bad. There may be some light smoke if the grill is hot enough, and depending on what is being cooked. I would be careful not to position the grill too close to smoke alarms. You might even want to have it near a window just in case. But otherwise, since there's no flame, there isn't much smoke.
I definitely would not recommend using this grill in a carpeted area. While it is stable on its base, to me, the risk of an accident on carpet is high, especially given that nothing really locks the parts in place. If the grill was tipped over, the hot grill plate and grease pan would probably fall out.
Additionally, the instruction manual does not recommend using an extension cord. The cord is over 6 feet so you shouldn't need one, but if necessary they recommend using a 14 gauge, 3 conductor cord with a marked rating of 120V, 15A, 1875W. The grill does draw quite a bit of power, so consideration of a proper extension cord is essential.
Using the Lid Holder
Inside the lid is a metal and rubber 'post' that extrudes inside the top of the lid. With practice, you too will be able to rest the lid on the side of the grill plate as indicated. You may even be able to do this without burning yourself too badly. I say that because it takes practice to get the lid hooked the first time. The post hook I described is about an inch too short for its purpose. You may want to stand behind the grill and take time to work on it. And watch your forearm! The lid gets very hot, and your arm probably isn't heat rated. If you reach over from the front of the grill to rest the lid on the back of the plate, your forearm may get in the way. I'd recommend practicing first with the grill cool.
Using the Steam Vent
For slow cooking items there is a steam vent to regulate the moisture inside the grill while cooking. To adjust, you merely turn the handle on top of the lid left or right to open or close.
The Grease Pan
The molded grease pan/trap under the cooking plate is a nice feature. I typically press aluminum foil into the bottom of the pan before putting it in its holder. This makes cleanup a breeze.
The Grill Plate
The non-stick grill plate has very large 'Foreman ridges' as seen on his other grills. But the GGR50B ridges are deep, and between each ridge are channels that slope towards the center of the plate where there is one large channel in the middle. The large center channel slopes towards a drain hole at the back of the plate. This hole sits right over the grease pan. Any grease that drips off your food, will run down the ridge channels, and into the center channel, ultimately ending up in the grease trap you hope. Of course this doesn't work completely as intended, but it works almost as well as any other Foreman product. And even if the grease doesn't make it all the way to the pan on its own, the ridges work well, and everything collects in the plate, where you can push the residue into the trap later.
Cleaning The Big George
Cleaning the GGR50B is very simple. It would actually be easier to clean this grill than others in the Foreman line because there is no top lid to clean, and because the entire grill surface can be washed in a sink. But because of the size of the plate it does pose some difficulty. To clean, with the grill still warm I first use a non-stick safe spatula, and I try to push what grease and grill remnants I can into the grease trap hole. The hole to the trap is relatively large, and you can fit most grilling remnants through the hole.
After the plate cools, I remove the temperature control, and take it out. I then carry the entire plate to the sink. The plate is slightly larger than my sink, so I have to be careful not to hold the plate in the wrong direction, or water will stream onto the floor. I also highly recommend the George Foreman specialty grill sponges. (Yes I know, sounds like a marketing spin-off, but they do work well
Then I simply clean the surface using sponges and mild soap, then rinse, and set the plate out to dry. With the plate out, I then remove the grease trap, take out the aluminum foil I lined on the bottom, I replace the foil with new foil, and put the pan back.
Transporting the Big George
The grill has 'cool-touch' handles molded into the sides which enable you to move it while hot. However I would not recommend moving it until the grill is cool because as I noted earlier, all the main parts of the grill are loosely held in place by gravity. There's no latch or connection point that solidly anchors the main components together. If the grill was tilted at an extreme angle, the lid might fall off and the grill plate might fall as well. Possibly the grease pan could fall also. If these pieces were hot, I don't have to remind you what might happen.
When cool, the grill portion lifts off the pedestal base. The grill is light, and it can be easily transported. The lid does not attach to the unit, so you can't carry it that way. If you need to move the whole thing, I would move it on two parts, the base, then the grill. I made the mistake initially of trying to relocate it at first by grabbing the handles and lifting. Of course the grill came right off the pedestal. I had set it on the floor, and carry the pedestal over to it.
Big George Pros
-Large grilling surface area
-Contoured grease channels between the ridges
-Removable grease trap
-Easy to clean, non-stick and removable grill surface
-Light weight for transporting (when cool)
-Easy to read instruction manual and recipes
Big George, Few Cons
-No solid latches to hold the grill in place, gravity holds main parts together
-Difficult to position the lid cover correctly on the side of the grill when not in use
-No top cook plate to push out some of the fat as with other George Foreman grills
-No holder for spatula or utensils
-The temperature control could be variable rather than on/off (described below).
For this grill, the on/off temperature control is not a huge negative. But the control does not actually adjust the heating level, it's more of an automatic on/off switch. If the grill is too hot, it turns the heating element off, if cold, it turns it on. This is not a major drawback in a grill such as this, as it is with other appliances such as fondue makers (see my fondue maker review http://www1.epinions.com/content_301745540740 ), but it's noteworthy to point out.
The solution for grilling indoors for parties of three or more is here! Overall the GGR50B grill has a great, large cooking area. It's large enough to cook quite a few cuts of meat, plus perhaps a few halves of corn at the same time. We did this for a party, and it worked very well. (It was also a great conversation piece, our guests were very interested in it). Plus it's easy to assemble, operate and clean. While it's not the perfect grilling solution for everything, it's definitely a great alternative to smaller Foreman grills. Other than a few small oversights, it cooks well, and heats fast. If you love your other Foreman grills, and you need more cooking surface, plus you can't go outside to grill, the GGR50B is for you.
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