Charbroiling: What It Is and What You Need to Know
There are a variety of methods of transforming your favorite foods into meals which are simply irresistible. And today we shall be taking a look at one of the most popular of them which has become something of a staple in homes and establishments around the world: charbroiling. We shall also be examining all the ways in which it is rather similar to another all famous cooking method and the key features which set it apart.
Charbroiling: What Does That Mean?
Charbroiling is generally referred to as a method of cooking using radiant heat to prepare food at high temperatures in order to achieve that seared effect and smoky flavor which are the hallmarks of food prepared using a charcoal grill. It’s also commonly considered to be charcoal grilling’s indoor counterpart since it’s frequently used by restaurants to provide their clients with delightfully flavored fare that feels as though it has just come off a similar appliance.
Charbroilers and Grills
It’s pretty impossible to hold any conversation on charbroiling without taking a look at the appliances used for it as well as for another ever-present staple for providing flavorsome food cooked with the direct application of heat: the grill.
And if at a first glance, they do appear rather similar, it’s because they actually are in many ways. However, they do also have a few distinguishing features.
And below you’ll be able to see their main features which highlight both their similarities and differences:
- Cooking grates: Both charbroilers and grills feature grates on which the food to be cooked is placed. These metal bars are also responsible for providing those dark stripes across meats, fish, and vegetables which we’ve come to associate with tasty fare cooked in the open air and of course, that trademark delightfully charred flavor.
- Fuel: Charbroilers and gas grills both rely on propane or natural gas, however, even though one of the main purposes of the former is emulating the aromatic qualities of a charcoal grill, they never use coal.
- High temperatures: Like grilling, cooking at high temperatures is also one of the hallmarks of charbroiling. And to achieve that delightful searing effect, truly impressive temperatures in the range of 700 degrees are necessary. Again, it’s worth noting that while such levels of heat are generally outside the range of most gas grills – except certain top-of-the-range options or those used in steakhouses – charcoal grills are able to provide them with ease.
- Smoke production and ventilation: Charbroilers produce vast quantities of smoke, which is actually considered to be a health hazard of sorts (along with the delectable fare cooked to succulent perfection on their grates). The fumes emitted during the process are ventilated by means of an exhaust hood. Grills, on the other hand, do not require any special features to effect ventilation since they generally tend to produce more moderate quantities of smoke which owing to their location - outdoors - is simply blown away by the wind.
- Flavor control: One of the main differences between a charbroiler and a grill has to do with the fact that while the latter comes with a lid, the former does not. This absence of a lid means a charbroiler cannot be used to prepare more demanding cuts of meat. A grill, however, is more suited to the task: with both the lid and heat lowered, it will be able to cook them to perfection while also being able to trap in all their flavors.
- Heat control: Controlling and monitoring the heat when using charbroilers and gas grills is a rather straightforward affair. This is particularly made easier with the former since they come with temperature control valves. Both appliances also heat up pretty quickly as well. Charbroilers also feature lava rocks or a heating element to create the radiant heat which is essential to the process.
What are the Health concerns with charbroiling?
In spite of its popularity, charbroiling remains a cause of concern to health experts and professionals.
The process of creating those succulent, aromatic steaks, fillets and vegetables results in the creation of chemicals known as heterocyclic amines or HCAs. Considered to be extremely potent gene-altering agents or mutagens, they’re believed to contribute to the deterioration and inflammation of the heart's tissues and may also affect other organs in the body. Charbroiling is also known to produce polycyclic hydrocarbons or PAHs which are harmful to the liver and kidneys.
The vast amounts of smoke produced during the process contain soot which poses a respiratory health risk to chefs and residents in close proximity to restaurants. This is due to the fact that it irritates the lungs, which may also result in damage to them.
Do these reports mean an end to that smoky flavor and delightfully charred food we've come to know and love? Perhaps not. And it's all thanks to microbiologist Richard Basel whose Safe Grill has provided a glimmer of hope on the horizon. This new offering is capable of providing all the flavor with none of the harmful chemicals mentioned above. What's more, food prepared with it is also considered more delectable than fare produced using popular options.
Conclusion: What You Really Need to Know About Charbroiling
Any method which combines the convenience of the gas grill with the unmatched aromas and flavors of the charcoal grill was always bound to be a success. And that's what charbroiling is with a few minor differences. Hence it's no surprise that it's highly popular.
However, it's also considered to cause considerable environmental pollution, heart, lung, kidney and liver disease in addition to being a source of carcinogens.
Will Richard Basel’s Safe Grill be widely embraced in the future in response to caveats issued from medical experts? Only the future will tell.
However, one thing’s certain: conventional means of charbroiling continue to remain highly popular and may continue to be for the time being.