Here’s what you need to know about this fast -- and underappreciated -- cooking technique.
1. A broiler is like an upside-down grill. It uses high, direct heat -- just like a grill -- but in this case it comes from above. The blast of heat creates a caramelized crust, which means big flavor.
2. It’s fast -- so fast that you can’t walk away. Food cooks in mere minutes, which means it can go from not-quite-done to burned in a flash. Keep an eye on the broiler, or set a timer for one- or two-minute increments as a reminder to check on the food.
3. It’s great for cooking and for browning. Thin cuts of meat and fish are excellent cooked all the way through in the broiler. But you can also run a frittata, gratin, pizza, or even bread for toast under the broiler -- anything that you want to take on a little color.
4. Broiling can be messy -- but don’t let that stop you. Just wipe down the inside of the oven or broiler compartment as soon as it’s cooled down enough to do safely.
5. It requires a little trial and error. Broilers heat to different temperatures (gas ovens tend to be hotter than electric). Some have “high” and “low” settings, while others have only “on” and “off.” The rack can also be at different distances from the heating element, depending on the oven. That all means that the timing listed in a recipe may not work for your broiler, or that foods may burn before being cooked through. The solution: Get to know your broiler and adjust the timing or the rack height as necessary.
Use your broiler to make dinner tonight using one of our favorite broiler recipes.