Um, A Little Help Here, George…

January 22, 2011  —  Written by Chris 

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A George Foreman grill is useless for cooking meat. I kid you not, useless. The commercials always show this nice, juicy piece of chicken taken straight off the grill, but that’s a crock. Every time I’ve cooked chicken on the Foreman (or any other kind of meat, for that matter), I see no grill marks, only indentations. The whole outside is charred to black and the inside has either turned to dust or isn’t even cooked through. Of course, we have the big one that doesn’t have temperature control, but why on earth would I buy a tiny indoor grill with temperature control when I can buy an outdoor gas grill for the same price? Ya dig?

That being said, I still hang onto our Foreman because it does have a purpose; and that purpose is grilled panini sandwiches. See, a panini press can cost anywhere from $200-$thousands. And they only do one job. Sure, for a restaurant exclusively making panini sandwiches, that might make sense; but for me, in my home, I’d rather spend $30 for something smaller and almost as effective. Plus, most people out there don’t have a panini press, but I think 90% of Americans have a George Foreman stuffed back in the cupboard (right next to that juicer your spouse gave you that you used once and decided it wasn’t worth 3 hours of cleaning to drink 2 oz of orange rind… sorry for the space-hogger, babe). Check it.
A meal doesn’t get easier than this, trust me. For our sandwiches we used whole wheat sandwich thins. They’re basically really thin hamburger buns, and they’re delicious. A healthy alternative, too.

turkey/cheese/banana peppers – plus tomato – minus tomato/plus turkey pepperoni

Put whatever you want on them. I don’t usually put sauce on mine because the ingredients steam a little and the cheese melts and it kinda creates its own sauce. Simply put on the top bun, stick in your Foreman grill and press it down. It takes about 5 minutes to cook up, and it’s oh-so good. 

But what about a side dish? Well, I’m gonna let you all in on a little secret. See, we have a deep fryer. But it’s a waste of time and effort in most cases. Not to mention all of the oil it requires, and all of the oil it transfers into your food. Tasty maybe, but not good for you. So we have a better alternative to making french fries, and once you start you’ll never look back. Check it.
The most important step in making crispy oven fries is preheating the pan. Do Not Forget This Step! Turn your oven to 450, and stick your baking sheet right inside while it preheats. Once it reaches 450, leave the pan in for a few minutes. A hot pan will keep your potatoes from sticking. This same technique works with other foods.
While the pan is preheating, prep your potatoes. We used sweet potatoes (actual sweet potatoes, not yams- although yams would work too), but this recipe works best with a good ol’ russet potato (that’s my Idaho accent coming through- yes, I’m from Idaho). If you’re using sweet potatoes or yams, you’ll probably want to peel them first. Russets, I like to leave the skin on.
my lovely assistant, cutting the potatoes

Next step, rinse. This step isn’t such a big deal for sweet potatoes or yams, but for russet potatoes it’s crucial. Russet potatoes have a lot of starch. When a starch is introduced to heat, it turns into gelatin (that’s why corn starch is used to thicken soups). So if you don’t rinse your potatoes, the starch on the outside will make the fries pretty gummy. Rinsing them will make sure they’re crispy. Sweet potatoes/yams have less starch, so this step isn’t as crucial. But we did it anyway. 

rinsing fries…obviously…

Next, pat the potatoes dry with paper towels, put in a zip-top bag and add a little cooking oil. Pinch of salt and toss to coat. You can add other seasonings too. For sweet potatoes we like curry powder.

we use a canola/olive blend to cook. don’t use solid olive oil- it’ll burn
Take your pan out of the oven and place your fries right on it. They’ll hiss at you, which they should. Spread them evenly and put back in the oven to cook at 450-475 until the tops and edges get brown spots (sweet potatoes/yams will get black spots- more sugar content).
you can’t hear it, but trust me, they’re hissing

That’s it. So simple, and much lower oil content than deep-fried. Pair the panini and fries with a fresh salad and you’re good to go. So much flavor, so much color, and so much more healthy than a burger and traditional fries. I promise it’s easy and you’ll be surprised how good it turns out. What would you put in your panini?
you know you want to…

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What do you think?

  1. holy yum. thanks for sharing! ps how are your hands? i hope well.

  2. We LOVE using our ginormous george for cooking quesadillas, panini’s, grilled cheese sandwiches, and sometimes steak too. We’ve had some good luck grilling out steaks on the george. I like my steak completely cooked through, so it doesn’t really matter which way you cook it, lets be honest…

    LOOKS yummy! Thanks for some new technique ideas we hadn’t thought of. Sweet potato fries are our favorite!!

  3. Glad I just bought frozen onion rings and a bottle of veg oil for the deep fryer tonight.

  4. holy yum. thanks for sharing! ps how are your hands? i hope well.

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