Searing steaks over a volcanic mound of hot charcoal, wreathed in plumes of blue-grey smoke, is the iconic image of grilling perfection. All too often, reality dictates a less dramatic but more pragmatic approach. When you don't have the option of grilling outdoors because of time or space constraints, contact grills -- such as the popular George Foreman line -- offer an efficient approach to putting dinner on the table. Because it heats simultaneously from above and below, a Foreman grills your steak in record time.
Wipe the grill's inner surfaces lightly with a damp cloth to remove any dust that's accumulated since its last use, and place the grill on a cleared section of your counter with plenty of room to open the lid. It also shouldn't be under a cupboard containing perishable foods that might be affected by the heat and steam of cooking.
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Place the drip tray in front of your Foreman, underneath the lower lip of the grill. Plug in the grill and turn it on, setting the temperature to medium-high if you have a variable-temperature model. Heat the grill until its light indicates that it has come to cooking temperature.
Place your steaks on the grill and close the lid. The number of steaks you can fit will vary with the cut and size of your grill.
Grill for no more than 3 to 4 minutes before opening the lid and testing your steak's doneness with an instant-read thermometer. Steaks as thick as 1 to 1 1/4 inches can reach medium-rare in a Foreman grill in as little as 5 minutes, and thinner steaks are quicker.
Close the lid and cook for another 1 or 2 minutes, if necessary, then test your steaks again. Remove them from the grill immediately if they've reached your desired temperature. Aim for 120 to 125 degrees Fahrenheit for rare steaks, 125 to 130 F for medium-rare and 130 to 135 for medium. Unplug the grill once you're finished.
• Don't overcrowd the grill, as excessive steam inside the closed grill can prevent your steaks from browning properly.
• If you own a remote-probe meat thermometer, cooking steaks on your Foreman grill is much simpler. Insert the probe horizontally into one of your steaks, then turn on the thermometer's monitor unit and place the steak on the grill. The probe thermometer will show you your steak's internal temperature in something close to real time, depending on its processor speed. Double-check your steaks with a fast-acting instant-read thermometer once their temperature approaches your preferred level of doneness because your probe thermometer's display might lag behind the actual internal temperature of the beef.
• The grill shouldn't be cleaned until it cools completely, so leave the lid up to speed that process.
• The cooking-times chart supplied in your Foreman grill's manual typically assumes that you'll cook to the 145 F temperature recommended by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. If you prefer your steak rare or medium-rare, don't follow the cooking times given in that chart.