Broiling is a cooking technique that adds colour, crispness and delicious char flavour to baked or roasted food.

 

Doesn’t it sound much like grilling

It seems like it as they are similar in such ways. The chefs call the grill the “broil station” in most restaurants.

But while the heat source of grilling is from the bottom ( charcoal, wood, propane or electric powered sources), the heat source of broiling is from the top. The food is placed directly underneath the heat source, like a reverse grill. In an electric oven, the heat source is a coil attached to the top of the oven. While in a gas oven, it is either a burner on the top of the oven or in a drawer underneath that slides in and out.

If it serves the same purpose as grilling, why do Chefs still broil food then?

  • To achieve char on leaner ( sliced no more than a one-and-a-half-inch thick) and thinner meat like pork tenderloin medallions, butterflied chicken breasts, kabobs, strip steaks, and vegetables. 
  • To thoroughly cook delicate food. 
  • To brown food that has just been baked or shallow braised in the oven, meaning it’s cooked all the way through but needs to crisp up or turn golden brown.
  • To crisp, crunch and brown the (often cheesy) top of already-cooked dishes.
  • To sear thinner fish and meats, even lobster tails, that don’t require a high internal temperature. 

 

Here are some tips to achieve success when broiling:

 

Take the time to prep the ingredients.

 

While this is a universal tip for cooking, prepping before broiling begins with what cuts of meat to use. Meat cuts should be thin so that they are cooked evenly. If you’re thinking of using a thick steak, you’ll need to cook it in the oven partially. Afterwards, finish it under the broiler to get the crisp, browned crust you’re looking for. The time it would take to cook the steak would result in a burned crust. Small pieces of meat on skewers like kabobs or satays are great choices. 

Chicken breasts should be butterflied and pounded to a level thickness. Meats and fish are trimmed or fileted to equal thin slices.  

As for vegetables, ensure that they are cut into evenly-sized pieces.

 

Broil either at the beginning or end of the cooking process.

 

One of the reasons why chefs choose to do this technique is to finish off a dish with a bit of crispiness or a burnt exterior. But chefs do not broil throughout the cooking process. They either start or end with the broiler. 

It is not advisable to broil food for longer than ten minutes as it could lead to burnt food or even an oven fire. Most broilers do not have varying temperature settings. It’s either on or off. Or a set low and high setting. 

And when they reach their temperature of 260 °C or 500°F, it stays that way unless turned off. Food can burn quickly, especially if meat is not prepped correctly (see above). Broilers are best for searing a food’s exterior.  

Some chefs recommend a two-step process of baking and then broiling to keep meats moist in the middle. 

 

Use a pan or a dish.

 

With grilling, you can place the food directly onto the grill grate, but for broiling, you must put the food item in a pan or a dish to collect the dripping juices. 

A broiler pan is an ideal item (hence the name) as the top part has slats to help air circulate for even cooking. It usually comes when you buy a new stove. 

Alternatively, you can use a cast iron skillet or oven-safe baking sheet lined with foil but make sure you rotate the food throughout the cooking process.

Because broiler heat can get extremely high, do not use the following materials: 

  • glass cookware, even pyrex, can shatter 
  • nonstick or Teflon can release toxic chemicals/ fumes at higher temperatures.

 

Season food the right way.

 

The best way to season food for broiling is to use dry rubs. Do not use oily or heavy marinades because the drippings can cause flares, burn your food or cause a fire. 

 

Trim any excess fat.

 

Fat, when heated, results in oil, which you want to avoid smoke or flare-ups when cooking. But that doesn’t mean that oil is no longer needed. The cooking surface must be lightly oiled or sprayed to ensure food will not stick. 

 

RELATED READ: Get Your Grill On

 

Preheat the broiler and broiler pan. 

 

A prevalent mistake is not to preheat the broiler and broiler pan. The heat plate around the burner needs time to heat up to get even heat across the broiler pan. A heated broiler plan can help sear the food evenly and seal the juices. 

A standard broiler takes about 5-10 minutes to heat up. 

If the broiler has low and high settings, here’s a tip:

  • High- for foods that need fast heating, like vegetables. 
  • Low – for foods that take a little more time to heat up.

 

Arrange foods in a single layer. 

 

Spread the food out so that each piece gets plenty of flame or heating element exposure to ensure even browning. 

 

The way you position the rack underneath the broiler matters. 

 

If you place the rack too close to the heating element, it can lead to burning. Where do you position the rack then?

  • Farther – Thinner foods or those placed in smaller-sized pans should be placed farther away to avoid the risk of burning the food.

  • Closer- Thicker and tougher foods or those placed in larger pans and dishes 

 

Use an oven thermometer. 

 

Similar to grilling, it is crucial to know if the correct cooking internal temperatures are reached. An instant-read thermometer can help you monitor your broiler temperature and achieve your desired results, especially if you are new to using a broiler or a brand new one where trial and error happens. It would help if you had a dependable tool to tell you the right temperature. 

 

Keep a close eye on the oven.

 

Watch your food closely. Because the food is cooking close to a heat source at such a high temperature, burning or fire can quickly happen. Most broil settings use temps between  260 and 290 °C (500 and 550° F), so keep a close eye on cooking progress. 

If your food is cooking too quickly, you can turn the broil setting from high to low. 

Turn the oven light on so you can visually monitor the cooking process. 

 Don’t leave and stay nearby.

Some electric ovens will shut off automatically when a temperature of 260 °C or 500°F is reached. To make sure that it doesn’t happen, and depending on your oven (read the manual), you can keep that from happening but propping the oven door slightly ajar, about 1-2 inches. Do not do this for gas ovens. Again, please do your research by reading the manual or going online and looking it up. 

 

In Summary:

 

Broiling is the method of exposing food direct intense heat to achieve a seared, crispy or char flavour of food, similar to grilling. But chefs know that there are times when grilling is not an option, and broiling is a much better cooking technique to do.   Another option is to use a direct flame torch, but that is for another topic. 

And if you are looking for skilled chefs based in Perth and Western Australia for your chef staffing needs, give us a call at Anytime Chefs

We have a roster of professional chefs that are available as short-term hires for :

  • peak periods
  • events/private parties and celebrations/pizza chefs
  • fill in for an emergency or annual leaves
  • start-up team for opening venues  

Anytime Chefs can also assist you in looking for permanent chef hires by facilitating your recruitment process.

We also offer a Consulting Service to assist you in opening or running the cafe or restaurant of your dreams. 

As part of our team, we have polite, professional Kitchen Stewards to assist you in cleaning and organising your kitchens. 

 

That’s it for this week.


As always, professional chefs are on call at Anytime Chefs!

Ciao for now,
Thomas

 


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