I'm happy eating vegetarian food a lot of the time. It's healthier, cheaper and usually contains cheese - I'm up for that. But I'm not a vegetarian, and the reason why is that every now and then, I. Just. Miss. Meat. And so when I eat meat, I do it PROPERLY. Whether it's a massive rack of ribs, a messy, oozy burger or a steak. Oh, a steak. It's always horrified my staunchly 'well done' father that I like my steaks rare and bloody. Still mooing? Perfect.
I love to order steak when I go out to eat, but it's always the priciest option on the menu, so it's nice to cook it at home sometimes too as it's so much cheaper. Even if I get a couple of steaks from M&S along with sides and desserts, I'll generally still spend less than one portion of steak in a restaurant! Plus, I get to eat it in my pyjamas. Win.
Tefal sent me their new Tefal OptiGrill to review, and I instantly decided to test its steak-cooking abilities. Matt isn't quite as carnivorous as me - he likes his steak medium, I like mine rare, so it meant I could see how the OptiGrill stood up to cooking two different levels of doneness.
The OptiGrill is FANCY, for a start. I originally thought it was just a standard grill, like a George Foreman, but it's so much more. It has eight different cooking modes: defrost, burgers, poultry, bacon, sausages, meat, fish and manual so you can cook all sorts in there - you can even use it as a panini press. It measures the thickness of your food and adjusts the cooking time accordingly, and you can choose how cooked you want it to be. So, for steak, I chose medium for one and rare for the other - I selected meat, popped the first steak in and let it cook. The circle changes colour depending on the cooking mode - green means it's just starting, yellow is rare, orange is medium and so on. It gives you a helpful bleep when it gets to each stage, and there's a colour chart around the outside of the circle too.
I was really pleasantly surprised. Both of our steaks were cooked exactly how we liked them - Matt's a respectable pink, mine a lovely deep red. They were cooked really evenly too, and the whole process was simple and easy. It's a much healthier way to cook as the fat is drained off (there's a helpful little tray to catch it), and as it's non-stick, you don't need to add any to the cooking process. Also - awesomely - the grill plates are removable, so they can be popped in the dishwasher or washed up properly. Way more hygienic and much easier to care for.
In all honesty, I was a bit dubious about reviewing the OptiGrill because I've never really seen the point of a separate grill when you have an oven or a frying pan (or both!). And it's fairly large, so not something I could keep out in my kitchen all the time as there isn't space for it. But it performed much better than I expected, and I really see the appeal for cooking meat. Grilling steak is actually a bit more reassuring than pan-frying it, too, as it's being cooked on all sides at once. I often over-do my steak because I start worrying that it's not seared all the way around, but this wasn't an issue - it was perfectly cooked on the outside but still juicy and rare inside.
It's a great option if you're health conscious, and because it's so easy to clean, using it isn't a massive faff - it's no more effort than dirtying a baking tray or frying pan. I really want to try out some aubergine and peppers in it, although next up is sausages. Oh, and I'm definitely going to have to make my own paninis too - not only can I eat them in my pyjamas, I can also stuff them with obscene amounts of cheese. WINNER.
You can find out more about the Tefal OptiGrill here. Tefal paid for my OptiGrill in exchange for this honest review.