We like chicken, we like steak, we like bacon. Yep, we like meat. It's no surprise then that we were rather excited to review the Tefal OptiGrill, a new kitchen gadget that promises to cook that meat to perfection.
It's a gadget designed to sense automatically when what’s on it is cooked, leaving you to get on with the rest of the meal. Steak-lovers everywhere will be wondering if it can really be that simple to get the perfect cook each and every time?
The Tefal Optigrill makes us think of an intelligent George Forman Grilling Machine, although it's a very large device so will take up a big chunk of your kitchen worktop. Not so lean. For those who like precision you get 600cm2 of cooking surface with a non-stick coating which is large enough to take up to four pieces of steak.
Several flat push-button controls are found on the front of the device, all of which are easy to use and wipe clean with little fuss. Rather than bother you with timers or dials, it’s just a case of pressing the picture button of the food you want to cook and then looking at the large, clear LED light that changes colour to tell you what's going on while it's cooking.
The clever part is in the way the OptiGrill detects how many items are on the grill plate and adapts the temperature and grilling cycle accordingly depending on the load.
But it’s not all pre-timed and controlled if you don’t want it to be - there’s a manual override button if you just want to go it on your own.
There's a colour disc that tells you whether or not your food is cooked and, in the case of steaks, if they are rare, medium, or well done. If the OptiGrill’s light is yellow, the steak is still rare, as it moves into orange the steak is medium, when the light turns red the meat is well done. The device will beep at each stage as the light turns through its colours - handy if you're not staring expectantly at the device.
Select the type of food you are cooking from the illustrated buttons - there are six automatic programmes burgers, chicken, bacon, sausage, meat, fish and a manual option all included - then wait, The OptiGrill cooking light will alert you when the grill is ready and at the optimum temperature and then simply throw in the meat on and shut the lid. The light will change colour accordingly, leaving you simply to take out your food out once it's ready.
We found that it works better with full portions - not chicken or beef strips but a whole chicken breast or chunky steak - and that you need to let the pan heat up first before placing it, otherwise the system gets confused and automatically defaults to manual. It works a treat for bacon and sausages - but only if they are firm enough to resist being squashed.
Those on a heath drive will like the fact that you don't need oil to cook anything and the angle of the grill plate means juices will run off into a separate tray beneath - ideal for then pouring into gravy afterwards just to undo any potential goodness.
And once you’re done the grill plates are dishwasher safe so you can pop it in there. However, the drip tray is not, for some reason, so you’ll have to tackle that by hand. It all dismantles and reassembles very easily too.
The OptiGrill is very big and will dominate any kitchen counter you put it on - this is very much a get out of the cupboard when you need it device - but it does produce great results, especially when it comes to steak.
If you are looking for a mammoth grill for the kitchen, the added OptiGrill cooking element will be a welcome addition, leaving you time to do other things, like drink that glass of wine all cooks shouldn't be without.
But we did experience some issues, especially if we were batch cooking. Because the grill plate needs to sense what you've got on it, it needs to be clean before you cook.
That sounds like a given - who wants to eat off a dirty grill plate? - but we found that if you are cooking more than just one round it means you've got to clean the hot grill plate before the second batch can be intelligently cooked.
Dominik Pytel, Head of Kitchen Electrics at Tefal says, that's not the case:
You can find out more about the Optigrill at Tefal's website.