Love to cook? Let’s introduce you to something that will give you not one but “five” helping hands when you are in the mood to cook something spectacular. Once in a while, there comes a time when we are too lazy to make even a one course meal. Salad seems like such a bland choice and when hunger strikes, all you can think about are your favorite foods. Let me tell you a secret – in moments like these, all I can think about is a burger topped with crispy bacon and dripping with sauces and cheese or a club sandwich that is toasted to a perfect golden color and offers a triple layer of turkey in every bite, if you think that food items like these can only be eaten at a bistro or a cafe, you are in for a surprise. Yes, for the past few weeks we have been talking about outdoor grills but if you cannot afford that, a griddler is a much more convenient and cheap option. With the Cuisinart griddler, you can experience outdoor grilling in the comfort of your house.
A griddler is a countertop cooking appliance that comes close to a grill. Cuisinart’s goal is to help people “Savor the Good Life”. When the co-founder of Cuisinart introduced the food processor in 1973 to the people of America, other culinary experts realized that there was a lot of potential in this category. It was then that James Beard and Julia Child decided to let people take full advantage of Cuisinart’s products that offered them easily manageable and affordable kitchen appliances.
Their range of grills are convenient appliances that can be used anywhere. However, if you are looking for something that can be operated easily and requires less maintenance, you should look at the Cuisinart Griddler GR-4N 5-in-1. I bought this griddler two weeks ago and so far, I’m having a great time with it. The fact that it’s a countertop appliance has made mornings quite easy. You don’t need any fancy grills to get restaurant quality food, so you can impress your neighbors. This griddler is like a book that allows you to flip the surfaces to whatever plate you are in the mood to cook on.
Since I bought this griddler from one of my local stores down the block, I couldn’t browse any of the accessories. Cuisinart’s website offers you hundreds of accessories that can help you grill better. From utensils to ad-on and cleaning tools, you can buy everything that comes recommended with this grill. Since this griddler is not that expensive, you can buy various accessories that will fall under your budget.
Let’s start with the basics and then I will explain in detail about the features and their benefits:
You may think there is no way to cook a great meal in fifteen minutes but Cuisinart has five ways in one pretty amazing appliance – The GR-4N 5-in-1 Griddler. It’s a non-stick contact grill, a wide open grill, the perfect Panini press, the extra large griddle and the multi-use half griddle and half grill. It’s a multi-tasker that allows you to cook breakfast, lunch, dinner and endless variety of delicious meals. Plus, the griddler works on electricity, so you don’t have to worry about gas connections to your main line. It weighs 14.8 pounds and can be easily placed anywhere.
Last week, I placed it on my dining table and made crepe style pizzas. Poured the batter right there and told my kids to choose their own toppings. The griddler is less dangerous than a grill and cools down in 30 minutes. You can easily hold it wearing a glove and shift it to a safe place when you are done using it.
Big outdoor grills such as those by Weber, Napoleon and Lion are some of the best grills that you will find on the market. However, these grills require constant maintenance and take a lot of time to set up. I have the 2017 model of Q Series from Weber and I seldom take it out. It does a great job of grilling a juicy steak but the clean-up afterwards is really hectic. The only time that grill sees the backyard is over the weekends – when there’s a party or a big Sunday lunch.
For me, the Cuisinart Griddler is the perfect grilling appliance that hits all the right spots. It cooks juicy and tender meat without a problem and allows you to make late night snacks in a few minutes. Plus, it has a modern and sleek design and is one of the easiest griddlers to clean.
Compact in size, this griddler does not have any unique features. It’s a simple counter top appliance that has been flipped to give an indoor grilling experience. This stylish griddler can hold any size of food, especially club sandwiches. There’s no slip and slide on the surface, so you can easily press a sandwich or a burger without worrying that the inside material will slide out.
Following is a list of all the GR-4N 5-in-1 Griddler’s parts and features:
- Hinge release level that allows the grill’s cover to lay back in a flat position offering more space
- Reversible and removable cooking plates (dishwasher safe).
- Porcelain enameled cast iron griddle and grill
- Stainless tell base and cover (self-adjusting)
- Three stainless steel control knobs
- Panini style cast metal handle
- Cooking indicator lights
- Drip tray
The Basic Features
Porcelain Enameled Cast Iron Griddle and Grill
As compared to traditional cast iron, most chefs and cooks prefer the porcelain enameled version as it does not require seasoning and is easy to clean. I usually have to season my grill’s cooking grates after every use and all the scrubbing and washing takes a lot of time. Now, I am not saying that the grill was not worth the buy . . . It’s just that it requires a lot of work for the setup.
The best part about the porcelain enameled cast iron is that the coating prevents iron from mixing with your food. The reason why Cuisinart has offered porcelain enameled griddle and grill is because both sides serve a dual purpose. When cast iron heats up, it produces toxic chemicals that change the taste of the food. Since the porcelain coating gives a non-reactive surface, you can cook any type of food. According to the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, enamel coating is considered a safe material for cooking appliances. With a seal of approval from the FDA, this griddler makes for the perfect cooking appliance.
Cuisinart’s porcelain enameled coating is thick enough that it can handle a high temperature. The Cuisinart Griddler has a cooking surface of 100 square inches when the lid is standing straight and 200 square inches when the lid is flat on its back.
Porcelain enameled cast iron is an A quality material for grills. Following are the advantages and disadvantages of cast iron, which will help you understand why Cuisinart chose this material:
- Safe to use – You can cook acidic foods on it
- Non-stick surface
- BPA Free
- Extremely durable – Cuisinart offers a 3 year warranty (It will last longer if you clean and store it properly)
- Can withstand high temperature – Is an ideal cooking surface for braising and searing foods
- Holds heat really well
- Consistent temperature
- Energy efficient
The only disadvantage with cast iron is that it takes time to heat up. I had no idea that it would take twenty minutes for the griddler to heat up. The bigger the surface, the longer you have to wait for it to reach the temperature you want to grill your steak on. However, once it reaches the desired temperature, it retains the heat quite well and keeps the food warm even after you have turned off the griddler.
The griddle can get easily chipped if you use sharp utensils such as a steel spatula. Instead, use silicone or wooden utensils as it will not leave any scratch marks on the griddler.
Stainless Steel Knobs and Temperature
There are three stainless steel knobs on the Cuisinart Panini Press that allow you to set the temperature according to the type of cooking surface you choose. The first knob is for the griddle that has a temperature range from 200°F to 425°F. The second knob is the “Selector” knob that allows you to switch the temperature between the griddle and grill-Panini. The third knob is for the grill-Panini that has five heating cores from warm to sear. Each knob has indicator lights that inform you about the temperature and the type of surface you are using.
1. Cuisinart Griddler Full Grill
The full grill allows you to push back the upper part of the griddler and lay it back on the counter. You can grill steak, burgers, poultry, fish
and vegetables. Avoid grilling chicken pieces with bones in them as they won’t cook evenly. When the griddler is lying flat on the counter, you will have to stand there and turn over the food constantly. Though its temperature is not that high that it will burn the food, it will go dry. The grill surface is the one with the protruding lines. It gives the food those golden grill marks that you only see in pictures. With the grill open, you have double the cooking surface and you can cook large amounts of food.
2. Cuisinart Griddler Full Griddle
The griddle is the smooth surface on which you can cook eggs, pancakes, hash browns, breakfast meats and French toast. To change from grill to the griddle, unlatch the locks from both sides of
the griddler. Simply turn them over and slide back in the plates. When facing the grill, make sure the spout is at the back so that grease drips into the catch pan. It took me a little time to flip the plates because sliding it back in is harder than what you read in the manual. After sliding the plate in, press it down from the front to snap it into place. Now lock the brackets.
Since both surfaces are porcelain enameled, the griddle allows you to cook flawless pancakes. You can even cook foods such as shrimps and pork or sear scallops. The cooking plate is big enough that you can make breakfast or dinner for a family of four. You can even make crispy snacks such as caramelized bacon, spinach roll ups, crepes, etc.
3.Cuisinart Griddler Half Griddle /Half Grill
Let’s mix it up a little shall we. If you are in the mood to have a full meal, then flip one griddle to grill and cook eggs and bacon and potatoes and steak together. However, when you are using both surfaces, you have to compromise on the heat. Turn the temperature selector to either the grill-Panini option or the griddle option.
4.Cuisinart Griddler Contact Grill
With both surfaces turned to griddle, you can use it as a contact grill to cook boneless chicken, thin slices of meat, vegetables and burgers. The contact grill is a great option for mornings as it cooks pretty fast. Once the lid is closed, the heat distributes evenly and cooks both sides of the food. When you place the meat on the grill, the grease travels through the spout and drips into the catch pan. This keeps the surface
clean, which prevents food from sticking to it. The hinges on the Cuisinart Griddler has been made with a special mechanism that allows adjustment of the cover according to the height of the food.
The only thing that you need to keep consistent when using the contact grill is that the height of the food must be the same, so that both thick and thin food items cook evenly.
5. Panini Press
For the Panini press, you can use either the grill or griddle plates. Turn the selector to grill-Panini and adjust the temperature on the main knob. The first thing I did was try the Panini
press because making sandwiches is the easiest. I wanted to test that whether the bread comes out with even golden lines or not. I would recommend the grill plates for the Panini press because it gives those traditional grill marks on the bread and toasts it pretty good.
There’s a catch pan under the griddle plates that collects grease through the spout in the rear. The Cuisinart Panini Press comes with a scraping tool that allows you to clean the griddler easily.
You can scrub the cooking plates with this tool and wash it with water. The scrapping tool, grease tray and the cooking plates are dishwasher safe. As for cleaning the outer surface of the griddler and the lid, you can use a cloth dipped in warm water to wipe them.
All parts of this griddler have a three year warranty. Since porcelain enameled cast iron can get easily damaged, you need to take extra care during cleaning. It is better to place the griddler’s parts in the dishwasher alone to avoid any scratches.
Another benefit that this griddler offers is that you don’t need any gas tank for it. It requires a connection of 1500 wattage and you can place it anywhere. Though, there was a brief moment of disappointment when I realized that I cannot take it out on trips but the 5 in 1 option more than makes up for it. If you are planning to use this griddler outdoor, you would have to go to great lengths to bring a small battery connection with you and that is just too much trouble.
Cuisinart only offers small grills that are portable. The Cuisinart Panini Press is another example when convenience meets high quality. It’s affordable, small, a counter top appliance and gives the same experience as a grill. I would highly recommend this griddler to all those people who are looking for a grill-like appliance that is high-class and manageable.