Most indoor grills are basically like glorified frying pans—they just can't create the same sear and taste that actual fire provides. The Cinder Grill is aiming to change all that, all from the comfort of your countertop—and without burning the curtains.
That's because this is one smart indoor grill. It looks like a massive panini press, but the Cinder Grill uses some of that girth to pack in heating nodes and algorithms that can disperse precise temperatures and sous-vide-style results without water or vacuum-sealing foods in plastic. Instead, it seals food between two hefty grill plates that cook both sides simultaneously.
Cinder's CEO previously worked at Lockheed Martin, so he knows all about the thermodynamics. But don't worry: You don't need a degree in engineering to operate the Cinder Grill. Just place foods on the bottom grill plate, close the machine and set the temperature using the dial and LCD screen.
There's also a companion iOS app that can set temperatures via Bluetooth, time the process and alert you when the food is ready. (For the set-it-and-forget-it approach, this is an absolute must.) The app determines the temp and cook time based on the type of food; the grill's sensors make the process even more foolproof by measuring the thickness of a cut of meat, say, by exactly where the plates sit when closed.
The end result is seriously delicious. Chicken, fish and burgers have the same slow-cooked, juicy taste you'd get from sous vide, and you are able to sear them without dirtying additional pans. Egg molds facilitate McMuffin-style sandwiches in less than five minutes. Cleanup is almost as easy as cooking: After the grill cools, just detach the plates and give them and the rest of the machine a quick wipe down.
The app, meanwhile, could use a few upgrades. Although it allows you to set any temperature, the timed searing process is not available digitally; it can be accessed only with the dial and LCD display. And its inventory of ingredients could use some beefing up; there are a lot of proteins and some produce, but it doesn't include instructions for eggs, grilled cheese and apples (which we eventually looked up on Cinder's more comprehensive website). The app is also currently an iOS exclusive, though an Android version is in the works.
Also, know that at 25 pounds, the Cinder Grill isn't the type of kitchen tool that can be stuffed into a cabinet. It's meant to live on the counter and be used often. And at 17-by-13-by-7 inches, it's definitely not for the cook with only a sliver of space to spare.
Lastly, using the Cinder Grill requires a trait many home cooks work hard to develop: patience. Currently available for preorder through the crowdfunding site Indiegogo, the $399 product is set to be delivered between July and October this year.
Rachel Cericola is a freelance writer who lives in the perfect spot in New England, convenient to both Boston and Providence. Follow her on Twitter at @rachelcericola.
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