For many home chef broiling is a rare experience. It's usually not thought of for cooking steaks, even now when the weather is still warm enough to grill outside. Yet broiling adds to meat,poultry and fish , giving them a nice juiciness without all that overpowering smoky flavor. It's time to rediscover this important part of the oven.
John Willoughby did just that and wrote about it in yesterday's New York Times Food section Sixty years ago broiling was de rigeur for home chefs.It was used mostly for chops and steaks and they were usually over broiled until they were dry and flavorless. The method fell out of favor with only restaurants using them and being renamed as the salamander. (this from the Greeks who attributed the animal with fire producing ability). Luckily a new generation is discovering broilers and using them to create a variety of dishes. His friend and cooking partner, Chris Schlesinger started with steaks, namely because his girlfriend, Suzanne wanted them and the time of year was not agreeable to outdoor cooking. Her craving happened in the middle of a snowstorm. The stomach wants what the stomach wants and Chef Schlesinger decided that pan cooked steak would end up in a smoky kitchen. That's when his broiler snobbery had to be over come and the broiler was the only method left to produced perfectly grilled filet. He was hooked, graduating from beef to chicken to fish.
There are a few warnings to heed before trying out your oven's boiler. Remember that every broiler has its' quirks and peculiarities. Different ones heat to different temperatures and the distance between heat and rack varies from oven to oven. Home chefs have to be active in the cooking process.As with outdoor grilling, it's important to check in often on the food and move it around to avoid one side getting burned or cooked before the other side. Before even starting the broiler needs to be preheated for five to ten minutes, preferably for the longer period of time. As with grilling select tender and thin pieces of meat to broil.Fish steaks, chicken and steak strips are all fine. Stay away from whole chickens ( although you can broil Cornish hens thanks to their small size) and wholes roasts. Save those for the oven. Pay attention to where the food is positioned. (this doesn't apply to the old fashioned under the oven type). The meat has to be close enough , namely three to four inches away to cook properly. Also nix the Pyrex or any glass container because they will break. Buy those aluminum a roasting pans which can be used many times and then discarded without cleaning.
Home chefs should rediscover broiling. It's a lost method of cooking that should be resurrected. It produces deliciously broiled meats, that are juicy and succulent,