How Does an Infrared Grill Work?
Infrared grilling is a hot new trend in the backyard BBQ scene. Chefs swear by the steaks sizzled and seared on its grids, and the amazing flavor and texture of the food they cook on it.
This tech is fairly new, it started around the eighties as an industrial process. It was later patented as a home appliance, but the price was prohibitive to regular users.
In 2000, the patent expired and those new gadgets became commercially available to backyard chefs. Its popularity has been constantly rising since then.
The buzz around infrared grills usually ends up with a couple of questions: How does an infrared grill work? And what’s so special about it?
Read on to find out more.
What Exactly is Infrared Energy?
Infrared light/ radiation/ energy is a section of the electromagnetic spectrum. Infrared light has a wavelength slightly more than visible red light.
We cannot see it, but we can feel its heat. Once these waves hit a surface, they transfer their energy to it right away. The sunburns we get at the beach are a direct result of infrared waves hitting our skin.
They can’t penetrate the skin with that heat, just the surface, as this needs a much shorter wavelength. This is actually what blue light and ultraviolet waves can do.
The same principle applies to many cooking appliances. There are various ways to produce infrared red energy, and mostly it’s used as a quick and easy way to cook or heat up food.
It’s also quite efficient in terms of power consumption. I believe that every household has a toaster, right? That’s an infrared appliance, and a charcoal grill also uses radiating heat to cook food.
How Does an Infrared Grill Work?
Infrared energy is produced by heating up a metallic or ceramic surface. These grills are a lot like the regular gas-powered type, but they add a special type of grates, that transforms this direct heat into infrared heat.
The lower surface of these grates reaches a temperature of around 800 degrees, while the serrated upper surface of the grate gets about 500 degrees.
The heat reaching the bottom of the grate is direct high-velocity energy. This is slowed down abruptly by the grates, and instead, all of this energy is stored in the metal itself.
The part of the heat that crosses over to the upper side is mostly infrared, and it’s a slower but very intense kind of energy.
It’s worth noting that the grease that falls off from the meat onto the grates doesn’t catch flames, it actually vaporizes into an aerosol, and if you cover the grill, this gives a smokey flavoring to your steak or burgers.
That’s why a steak sizzles happily over these grates, and it gets seared but not charred. It also keeps all of its juices and goodness and doesn’t dry up the way we sometimes see with direct fire grilling.
What’s So Special About Infrared grills?
We mentioned above a few things about texture and flavor, and here are some other benefits for using an infrared grill:
Cooking is Quicker
The nature of infrared radiation lets each wave pack up a lot of energy, which is then transferred to whatever youare barbecuing The clear sizzling sounds when the meat touches the grates is indicative of that intense energy.
This is nice with the food that takes longer to cook on a regular grill, and chefs quickly adapt their pace while roasting fish or vegetables.
The Food is of Premium Quality
Regular grilling usually gives a seared crust, but the meat is a bit dry from the inside. Microwaving meat keeps it moist and even golden on the outside, but the crisp crust isn’t always attainable.
Using an infrared grill easily crisps the outside of the steak, without charring its corners, and keeps the inside moist and juicy. The aerosol resulting from the vaporized dripping fat also contributes to the intense flavor.
Cooking potatoes has a similar amazing result on the infrared grill. Who doesn’t appreciate crisp coupled with softness?
This is the premium quality of flavoring and texture we crave when we cook at our backyards, the kind we enjoy at restaurants. Now we can have in our own homes too.
Easy to Clean and Maintain
Infrared grills are pretty easy to clean up after the BBQ, there’s no ash to dispose of, and no collected fat in the grease trap, it mostly evaporates.
The grates are pretty easy to scrub with a BBQ brush. You could also wash them with dish soap and warm water, or even better, op them inside the dishwasher if they fit. A program for cleaning pots would be just fine.
To Sum Up
Infrared grills are popular nowadays for good reasons. The way they work provides intense and even heat over the grates, which backyard chefs utilize to the max, and they do create some culinary wonders.
I hope this has explained how infrared grills work, and why these appliances are creating all the buzz. What remains now is to season a Ribeye or a T-bone and get the grill going. Bon appetit!