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Get to Know Your Broiler

Rosemary-Rubbed Rib-Eye with Charred Red Onions

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By Laraine Perri

In “The Upside-Down Grill,” you’ll find several recipes designed to mimic grilled food by using a broiler. But there are several kinds of broilers, and understanding how yours works will help you use it more effectively.

Traditional gas If you have a gas oven, the broiler will be either in the roof of the oven or in a drawer below the oven. In either case, the broiler is usually a bar in the center with flames that come out of both sides. Gas broilers do a nice job of browning food, but some will cycle off if the oven’s internal temperature gets too high. If this happens, open the door briefly to let some heat escape. (Or broil with the door ajar if recommended by the oven’s manufacturer; see “The Upside-Down Grill,” for more information.)

Traditional electric In an electric oven, the broiler element is always in the roof of the oven. Some higherquality electric broilers provide more even heat than gas broilers do, but with others, food that is not directly under the heating coil will cook slowly and may not brown at all. In this case, rotating the pan or switching the food’s position may help even out the cooking.

Infrared Many higher-end gas and electric ovens now feature infrared broilers. In a gas oven, heated air flows through a ceramic plate filled with a honeycomb of tiny holes, causing the plate to radiate heat more evenly and at much higher temperatures than a traditional gas broiler does. In an electric oven, the same effect is achieved by heat from the coils radiating through a glass plate. These broilers cook quickly and excel at browning, so keep a close watch on your food to prevent burning. If foods tend to overbrown before cooking through, try lowering the rack position to increase the distance between the broiler and the food.


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