When you live in a region known to have more rainy days than dry days in a given year, barbecuing is not something you can do very often. Boxing champ George Foreman has come to the rescue for us Pacific Northwesterners, with his line of "lean, mean, fat-grilling/reducing machines," otherwise known as "indoor grills."
Recommend this product?
We received George Foreman's "The Champ" Sandwich Maker for Christmas several years ago, and it has since become the most used appliance in my kitchen. "The Champ" is a relatively small indoor grill, taking up as much counter space as the Yellow Pages. The grill grate is raised about an inch of the ground and is slanted, allowing grease to slide down the grill into the plastic drip pan that you set in front of the grill. The grill grate also has raised lines on it that brand the meat or sandwiches you are cooking. The Champ has a flip-top lid that with slightly raised lines, which you close over the food while cooking. This not only brands both sides of your food, but allows it to cook a whole lot faster by cooking both sides at the same time. With this feature, I rarely need to flip the food I am cooking on The Champ, as I would need to do on a regular grill, or in the oven or stove.
When The Champ is closed, you can warm bread or hamburger buns on the bun warmer, which is a flat grate on the outside, with its own lid. To be honest, I could live without the bun warmer on my George Foreman Grill because it never really worked. The buns we put on there got warm, but never really toasted. Then there were sesame seeds left all over the grate. For less mess and the same moist, warm bread, I could have just put the buns in the microwave. After two quick uses, the bun warmer issue became a moot point, because the little plastic latch that connects the lid broke off, so it became lid-less.
How does The Champ work?
A great thing about George Foreman's The Champ Sandwich Maker is that it is incredibly simple to use. You just plug it in and close the lid, place the drip pan in front of the grill, just under the grate edge, and wait for it to heat up. This takes about five minutes. I usually know that it is hot enough by waiting five minutes, opening the lid and placing my hand about six inches over the grill. If I can feel heat, I know it's ready. The only time I will grease the grill is if I am just cooking vegetables on it, and even then I will do so very lightly, using a paper towel.
Because of the heat and how heavy the lid is, I can't close it with one hand. The hinge placement is such that you need two hands to lift it up and over to get it shut. I usually hold on to the back part of the lid because it has a wider chunk of plastic, that is not as hot as the rest of the lid.
We usually place a cookie sheet on top of the middle of our stove (which is turned off, of course) and put The Champ on top of the cookie sheet when we cook with it. That way, we can turn on the hood fan and suck all the meat smell and moisture out of our kitchen, so we don't wake up in the middle of the night looking for pork chops or shishkabobs.
Which reminds me, what can you cook on The George Foreman Indoor Grill?
You can cook almost anything you want grilled on the George Foreman Grill. The grate is about the same size as a mouse pad, so you can only fit about two hamburgers or three pork chops at a time. I also like to make shishkabobs on The Champ, and can usually fit four skewers at a time. As I said before, most food does not need to be flipped when cooking on the grill, but I like to flip it anyway, since the bottom tends to cook a little faster than the top, and I like my meat evenly toasted on both sides.
In college, nearly everyone I knew used a George Foreman Grill to make "the best" grilled cheese sandwiches. My husband will occasionally make toasted cheese sandwiches on the grill when we have extra croissants in the house, and they tend to cook within five minutes, evenly toasted.
The biggest nuisance with the George Foreman Sandwich Maker/Grill is cleaning it. You definitely don't want to use a metal spatula or any kind of abrasive pad on the grate (which I think is made of Teflon, or something like it). The grill comes with a flat plastic fork and spatula for this purpose. The tines on the fork are perfectly spaced for the fork to fit in between the raised lines and push the grease drippings out of the grates. It is best to do this while the grill is still warm, so the goopy stuff doesn't get caked on too hard. After pushing out the drippings, I usually take the oldest sponge I have and clean it with just water (no soap), with the grill plugged in, so it essentially gets steam cleaned.
Cleaning underneath The Champ is a little more difficult, as it tends to be greasier and little grease drippings tend to get caked in between the bottom of the grate and the base of the machine. For this part I use the scrubby green part on the back of my Scotch-Brite sponges. Of course, I need to let the grill cool off a bit before I can flip it over and clean the bottom.
The George Foreman "The Champ" Sandwich Maker is a "must have" for every kitchen, especially if you live in an area where bad weather can cancel barbecues frequently. While it does not allow you to cook a high volume of food at once, it does cook in much less time than a regular grill, and can be used to make toasty sandwiches as well. The bun warmer is useless, but not enough of a nuisance to mark this down. If you need something bigger, take a walk down the aisle in Target or Macy's, and you will see that George Foreman has been quite busy since retiring from the ring. He has a grill in nearly every shape or size imaginable.
Read all comments (2)
Amount Paid (US$): gift