We love a kitchen gadget – many have been bought over the years. Some get used a lot, some get used occasionally, and some have been used just once, then relegated to the back of the cupboard never to see the light of day again. I can safely say, that I think the Tefal OptiGrill that we were sent to review will be one gadget that will get used a lot.
There are six automatic programmes on the OptiGrill: burgers, chicken, bacon, sausage, steak, and fish – even from frozen. All these foods find their way into our dinner rotation. On the night we tested the grill out, it was steak. In a few days it’ll be salmon, and I’m pretty sure, come the weekend, a bacon sarnie will be made!
The grill is heavy, and it’s quite big too, so it’s not the sort of gadget I would want to keep putting away and pulling back out to use. Finding a spot on the kitchen counter, might cause a problem for those with limited space – I had to clear stuff out of the way so I could take photographs for this review. It will find a permanent home though, because, as I said, I think it will get a lot of use in our kitchen.
As well as a full instruction booklet, there was also a Quick Start Guide, a card with grilling tips, and another card with a chart showing the programmes, and the cooking level indicator for doneness. It also gave the cooking programme and level for food not in one of the automatic programmes, like pork, lamb, chicken nuggets, vegetables, whole fish, and toasted sandwiches. (Out goes that retro sandwich maker I’ve got!) We did read through the full instructions though, as I’m not convinced the quick start guide is meant for first time users.
The instructions advise to wash the grill plates before first use, and it was very easy to do as they both pop right off. They can be placed in the dishwasher too (if you have one – we don’t!). I know grills we have owned in the past have been tough to clean as the plates are fixed. The juice collection tray slots right in with ease, and is a good size.
With the prep of the machine done, it was time to switch it on, but not before wiping down the cooking plates with a little oil to improve non-stick release, as suggested in the full instruction guide. You simply press the on button, followed by the food you want to cook button (in our case, it was steaks), and then the OK button. Now it’s time to wait for the pre-heating to complete which takes 4 – 7 minutes. You’ll know when it is ready because the machine makes a bleep to let you know.
We then opened the grill fully (which you must do to ensure the correct operation of the automatic sensor) and placed 3 sirloin steaks on the plate, before shutting the lid back down. The automatic sensor adapts to the thickness of the meat and the number of portions. There are various colour flashes, and changes as the cooking process begins, and something, which in time we’ll get used to. As each stage of cooking is done – rare, medium, well done – the OptiGrill also beeps. We are medium rare, to medium steak eaters, but decided to see what medium would produce. For us, they were a little too far done, but with experimentation, and getting to know the machine better, I’m sure we’ll get the steaks cooked to our exact liking.
Overall, we found the Tefal OptiGrill easy to use and understand. The cooking plates were easy to clean, thanks to them being removable – but you do have to wait at least an hour for them to cool down. We liked that the cooking plate was big – enough room for steaks, for the three of us, and that we could go off and do other things in the kitchen, without worrying about watching over a grill or frying pan. The bleep soon told us when the food was cooked. I loved that it takes all the guess work out too with its automatic sensor.
Whilst the size of the machine is on the large side, it is a gadget that we will use a lot, so it will find a home on our counter top. I can’t find anything negative to say about the grill, and look forward to using it in the kitchen over the coming weeks to see how it preforms with other foods. I’ve looked online for the price, and it does vary – from £89.99, up to £149.99.
And what did we serve our steaks with? Well, I had a go at making chimichurri, a green sauce used for grilled meat, originally from the Rio de la Plata, Argentina, made with finely-chopped parsley, minced garlic, olive oil, oregano, and white vinegar. We have had this sauce a few times when on holiday in Florida, so feeling the post-holiday blues, it made sense to make it!
One of the dishes we ate out there, was a grilled beef skewer, with chimichurri, and boniato purée. A search online told me that boniato is sweet potato, but you could do regular mash, or chips, or baked potato… whatever is your favourite! We boiled up some sweet potatoes, and mashed them with butter, milk, salt, and pepper. The chimichurri ingredients all went into the blender and whizzed together – it made one very bright green sauce! I think next time, I will hand chop it all instead to give a less purée of a texture.
- For the chimichurri
- large handful of fresh, flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
- ½ tsp dried oregano
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- olive oil
- white wine vinegar
- For the mash
- 1 sweet potato per person, peeled and cut into small chunks
- knob of butter
- splash of milk or cream
- salt and pepper
- For the steak
- 1 sirloin steak per person
- oil for brushing
- salt and pepper
- Cook the sweet potato in a pan of boiling water until tender. Drain, and mash with a knob of butter, milk (or cream), and season with salt and pepper – all to your personal preference. Keep warm while you cook the steaks.
- Place the parsley, oregano, garlic, and onion into a bowl. Add olive oil and vinegar to your personal taste (I tend to use 2 parts oil to 1 part vinegar), to make the sauce – you can make it as fluid or as dry as you like. Season with salt. You could put all the ingredients into a blender if you prefer.
- Season the steak with salt and pepper. Rub a little oil on the Tefal OptiGrill cooking plates,and cook the steak to your liking. Or use your preferred cooking method.
- Served the steak with the mashed sweet potato and the chimichurri poured over the meat.