Y2K is, without question, back in the mainstream. From Miu Miu micro miniskirts to sparkly blue eyeshadow, we're seeing the trends of yesteryear resurrected — but what about the George Foreman Grill? The now 73-year-old heavyweight champion and '90s icon George Foreman released the self-titled kitchen essential back in 1994. Due to years of upbeat infomercials, you could find the contraption decorating the countertops of American households everywhere throughout the decade. If you managed to avoid a kitchen or a TV for those years, the appliance is simply a small, user-friendly grill that famously (per the aforementioned infomercials) "knocks out the fat," of your delectable food like Mr. Foreman once KO'd his opponents.
As a 1997 baby, some of my most vivid memories are the sounds of sizzling hamburgers harmonizing with Ryan Seacrest unjustly kicking Jennifer Hudson off of American Idol. So you can imagine my intrigue when the brand not only announced the debut of a dishwasher-safe George Foreman Grill in April but also sent me one to test out. Follow along below as I reminisce on the grill's glory days, barbecue some chicken thighs in my one-bedroom apartment, and decide if we should have left the machine back in the early 2000s.
Back in the day, I vaguely remember my family's Foreman being white, a bit clunkier, and equipped with an unattached grease trap tray. In 2022, the new and improved $52 grill features nonstick coating, a compact design (10" x 11" x 4"), and it can be fully- submerged in water — just make sure before washing you let your grill cool down, unplug it, and remove the control panel. While it can't quite compete with Instagrammable Dutch ovens, the updated grill also seems to have taken notes from millennial-friendly brands and has a more pared-back, sleek look. The device also cooks up to four servings at a time, promising to lessen your time in the kitchen.
Like I said earlier, my mom played that griddle like a fiddle when it came to juicy hamburgers. That being said, the brand's site provides a plethora of recipes and after taking a peak, this machine can cook up anything under the sun: beef, pork, poultry, seafood, and even veggies. I took the poultry route with six skinless chicken thighs.
Here's how it works: Plug it in, wait for the red light on the control panel to turn green, put a tad bit of cooking oil on the panels, and cook away. My Foreman took about a solid three to five minutes to heat up which left me thoroughly impressed. While it is not advised, I easily opened the grill with my bare hands and popped each chicken thigh on the griddle — I was met with the same nostalgic sizzle from Ryan Seacrest's golden age.
The grill uses direct heat from both plates, cooking food more rapidly and evenly than with a skillet's one-sided heat or an oven's indirect heat. The plate's ridges also give your dish tasty sear marks that imitate a grill or grill pan with much less mess. While the infomercials prominently feature meat, you can also use it to heat up sandwiches, veggies, burritos, and more.
After placing the chicken thighs, my hand slowly lowered the panel atop, my ears listened to the sizzles increase, and my eyes watched as grease from the thighs poured into the hidden trap. After some googling, I decided to let them cook for 12 minutes. (Most recipes provide good time estimates for cooking meat on a George Foreman, however, if you're nervous you can always use a kitchen thermometer to test the internal temp.) Upon opening the grill I was in love. Three seared, fully-cooked chicken thighs stared back at me. Anyone who knows me is aware of my most effortless talent: making lifeless, dry chicken. Apparently, my Sahara desert poultry days are no longer, because this meat was tender, succulent, and completely devoured in 10 minutes.
As for the clean-up, I don't have much to say, which is amazing. It was easy peasy even without a dishwasher. It's not the best nonstick I've ever seen, but for the price, it did a good job of melting off stubborn chicken remnants and fit right into my drying rack. Needless to say, I highly recommend and long live the true star of the early 2000s: the George Foreman Grill.
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