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In Search of Perfect Grill - PowerChef Convertible Electric Grill
PowerChef Electric Grill in a closed position - a lid lock. Locking switches (sliders) are located on the inner side of the lid handle (inside corners of the lid)
PowerChef Electric Grill in a closed position - view on its drip tray (at the bottom of the grill)
PowerChef Electric Grill - the width of the cooking area is about 17 inches with total grill cooking surface of more than 200 sq. inches
The main (and only) grill dial. To turn PowerChef on just pull the dial up. You will see the red light indicator on. You can also adjust the desired cooking temperature by rotating the dial with 10 being the highest temperature.
Americans love their grills and grilling! What can be better than the BBQ flavors spreading around from your deck where you do your magic in front of a grill with a piece of meat on it slowly transforming into a mouth-watering awesomeness to be served soon to your family and friends. So, when a new season comes, in your neighborhood friendly Home Depot or Lowers grills go fast . The problem is that they are not born equal. Different sizes, different fuel, different BTUs, different appearances - aren't we all slightly confused deciding what to buy?
Well, the truth is that we have different needs and different ideas about what is a good grill. So, when we decided to replace our once shiny stainless steel monster (that with years became dirty and not-so-good-looking-and-cooking) the following requirements were set:
If I wanted to make my rant brief, I could stop by simply saying that I am still looking for that perfect grill... Indeed. But since I want to share bits of my experience with this never ending daunting task, I am going to tell you about PowerChef Convertible Electric Grill I found. It's far from perfect, but if your needs are similar to mine, this grill may deserve your attention. It is manufactured by Dimplex North America, a Canadian company in Cambridge Ontario - in fact, there is a small family of PowerChefs: CBQ-120-ELE ($499.00) and CBQ-120-MAN ($399.00).
The difference between the two is in controls. The former has some kind of electronic device to set cooking time depending of the size of your steak.
PowerChef Convertible Electric Grill CBQ-120-MAN manufactured by Dimplex North America (Cambridge, ON Canada)
PowerChef Electric Grill in a closed lid position. Note that legs are extended.
PowerChef Electric Grill - that's how you extend its support legs. Actually, it is a bit more complicated than what appears on the picture. First, you need to loosen the knob and pull each leg until it stops. After that you must tilt the leg OUTWARD to clear the stop tab. Fully extend the leg, move it back inward and tighten the knob to secure the leg.
This picture clearly illustrates the EvenSear™ cooking system of Dimplex PowerChef. Note that cooking grid is not removable. Good news is that the heating element is curved to heat evenly all the cooking area even in corners.
To open drip tray of Dimplex PowerChef pull the release tab up with one of your hands and use your other hand to open the tray. Not very ingenious, but it works. It is convenient to do this when the grill stands on its back.
The drip tray is open. However, you can detach the tray completely from PowerChef Convertible Electric Grill (CBQ-120-MAN); it will make its cleaning much easier.
The latter has just one old fashion dial to turn the device on and off and control temperature. That's the grill I am going to talk about. I do not think the electronic feature justifies the difference in price. Besides, I expect it to fail soon. Anyway, let's see how CBQ-120-MAN stacks up against my requirements.
Size - the grill is small, only 22" x 20.25" foot print; nevertheless, the grilling surface is almost 220 inch. The grill fits on a small table - perfect for my needs. At the same time, using optional pedestal and shelves, you can use it as a floor unit. With optional wall mounting bracket you can attach it to the wall and save a lot of space.
Source of heat - obviously, it is electric. Just plug it in any ground fault breaker equipped outdoor receptacle and you are ready to go. There is one control to turn it on/off and set the temperature. Note - you will need outlet rated 15 Amps. You are done with cooking - let it cool a bit, clean if necessary. I store my PowerChef in a garage.
Consistency in temperature - Due to EvenSear™ Dual Element Cooking System produces even temperature even at corners. This is probably the best part of the PowerChef Electric Grill.
Heating power - According to manufacturer's specifications, the grill achieves 650-degree searing temperature. That's where I start having problem with this grill. Either my unit is defective or the issue is in semantics of what is searing temperature. As we know, to obtain a brown or black crust, the meat surface must exceed 300°F (150°C). To form a caramelized crust, I must set the grill at "10" - its highest setting. At this level the food comes out of the grill perfect. However, I feel that the grill operates at its limits. For example, colder temperature outside can affect the cooking process. It also means that without really high heat, I am limited in what cooking techniques I can use with PowerChef Electric Grill. I also have to mention that there is no, even a primitive, thermometer in the grill - it is designed to lid down cooking. That's where it really gets fuzzy; according to the manual, EvenSear™ system "relies and utilizes direct cooking rather than air temperature" and that makes thermometer useless.
Design and construction - very solid and durable. All parts are machined nicely and fit each other. Among other things related to the design I would mention the following as pros:
Due to the quality of construction, I think that the higher price on this grill is justified. On the scale from 1 to 5 where 5 is the highest score, I would give PowerChef Convertible Electric Grill (CBQ-120-MAN) four stars because of problems with producing high heat. On the tips I can give you to offset this problem is to preheat the grill for at least 15 minutes.
To detach the drip tray from PowerChef Convertible Electric Grill (CBQ-120-MAN) remove two screws from both sides of the grill. After that you will be able to move the tray setters along the grooves and away from the grill.
This picture illustrates better the grooves that hold drip tray of PowerChef Electric Grill in its position
When the drip tray is removed, you have better access to clean PowerChef Convertible Electric Grill from the inside. Also, this is the only real way for cleaning of drip tray (you can even put it in water to soak). You should know that the tray has a liner that can also be removed and cleaned separately. You will need a rather sharp pointed edge to do this (something like a chisel-shape tool).