The Grill with Many Uses
One of the latest in the vast family of George Foreman Grills is the Evolve: a grill that comes with a multitude of interchangeable plates (and more can be purchased separately). Different versions come with different configurations, depending on what store you buy them from; along with the traditional grill plate, you could get a waffle plate, a deep dish bake plate, a muffin pan or a slider plate.
It's a neat idea, being able to do so much with a countertop appliance, especially one that takes up a significant amount of space. But are you really going to pull out your countertop grill the next time you want to bake some muffins?
The Evolve's Performance
The grill itself is designed similarly to many of the other George Foreman grills. There's a lever that can switch the grill from being flat (for sandwiches or small pieces of food) to angled (for meat, so that fat can drain into the included drip tray). The hinges "float" to accommodate large pieces of food.
The controls are a bit mystifying. To turn the grill on, you have to set a timer and the temperature, both are digital, with up and down buttons to control. There appears to be no way to override the timer and just have the grill be "on" until you turn it off, which means you also have to factor in five minutes for the grill to warm up (The temperature display flashes until the grill is at temperature, and a soft beep also chimes when it's heated). Then again, when the timer reaches zero, it just beeps, and the grill remains on. Still, I found myself wishing that you could deactivate the timer, and also that the timer wouldn't begin its countdown until the grill has reached the right temperature. The display and controls are on top of the grill, so if you're using the grill open, you'll have to close the lid in order to use the controls.
Another complaint: the actual surface of the grill is not very large; about 11 by 8 inches (Other Foreman Grills, including the Stainless Steel model have larger cooking surfaces). If you're cooking for more than 2 people you might have to work in batches. And while the fat did indeed drain away while I was cooking a steak, the design of the grill plate also caused small pieces of onions and peppers to fall of the edge, since there was no rim to contain them.
I liked the grill marks of the special top "Crosshatch" grill, which gave pieces of food a picture-perfect criss-cross look. But later I discovered that while the bottom grill is a breeze to clean, that top half has lots of crevices that can trap grease, making it laborious to clean.
But complaints aside, I felt like the grill got plenty hot enough to nicely sear the food I was cooking, something that other countertop grills don't always accomplish. The grill was most effective when the lid was closed, so that food was cooked from both top and bottom.
It Bakes! And More!
Even though the idea of baking brownies or muffins in your grill might seem preposterous, it's not ill-advised: I baked brownies in the grill, and they turned out moist, with deliciously crunchy edges. The baking option would be great for a small apartment or for the summer months when turning on the oven can heat up the whole house.
On the George Foreman web site, you can buy a range of other plates, including a a deep dish baking pan, an omelet and snack plate set, a shallow griddle pan, a waffle plate set, and a cupcake or muffin pan set.
- One of the most versatile countertop grills on the market
- Tilting design can help drain fat from food
- Countdown timer is annoying
- Surface not very big
- Top crosshatch grill difficult to clean
- Grill can be adjusted for flat or angled cooking
- Removable, nonstick grill plates and accessory pans
- Digital time and temperature controls
- Floating hinge accommodates different thicknesses of food
- 2-year limited warranty