Char broilers are designed to bring the taste of the backyard grill inside. There are a couple of ways to produce products with grill marks and the undeniable flavor of the grill: radiant heat or with char rocks. The radiant or char rock acts as a storage bank of heat. The more cold products you throw on the broiler, the more heat is drawn from the heat bank. Heavy duty cast iron radiants store more heat, recover faster and cook faster. Stainless steel radiants are less costly to manufacture, but don’t work as well. Char/Lava rock type broilers are really only for light duty applications and are prone to flare-up.
Radiant Heat Char Broilers
When using radiant heat, the gas flames heat the radiants and the heat is distributed evenly across the cooking surface. The slanted radiants limit flare ups from fat dripping and are easier to clean. They provide good product consistency.
When using char/lava rocks, the gas heats the ceramic briquettes and simulates charcoal cooking. Fat drips on the briquettes creating the smoky flavor, but increasing the likelihood of flare-ups (like on a charcoal grill). Briquettes should be changed twice a year.
Char broilers usually have a high energy use because they have an open burner that must stay lit the entire time you’re using it. You must always pre-heat your cooking grid and keep in mind that smoke can get bad without proper ventilation. Look for cast iron radiants, optional stainless steel splash guards, and wide front shelves for plates. As with any gas appliance, be sure and include a new AGA commercial gas flex hose. They are designed extremely heavy duty, usually with a brass quick connect. Standard, plumber supplied home-type flex hoses are not designed for commercial applications and are not NSF approved.
- Use the appropriate grate for the menu item.
- Season the grates before the first use by preheating them to open the pores and brushing them with oil.
- Pre-heat the grates before cooking to help reduce sticking.
- Dip food in seasoned oil before grilling to reduce sticking and enhance flavor.
- Consider positioning grates on an angle for charbroiling. It will drain the grease better and gives you better control of heat distribution. Well done items go toward the top to cook slowly and thoroughly. Rare items go toward the lower position to cook rapidly on the outside and leave the inside rare.
- Wire brush the grates after each use or batch of food product.
I recommend doing your research first. Find the make and model number you like best and then going online to compare prices. If you're unsure about different brands, find a site like ShortOrder.com to research restaurant equipment. They have editors reviews that offer a simple star-rating system to help differentiate and they have customer reviews on most products.