Types: Charbroilers come in both floor and countertop models. Specialty broilers include salamanders, wood-burning units and cheesemelters.
Capacities/Footprints: Broiler volumes vary greatly. A 15” x 22” charbroiler's grid can cook 24 hamburgers per load or 340 per hour. A 16” x 20” grid will produce about 380 an hour, while a 20” x 32” model can turn out as many as 760 burgers in 60 minutes. Some charbroilers are sized to accommodate smaller kitchens. For example, drop-in models range in width from 12” to 60”, with a standard depth of 24”. Grates on gas-powered units generally measure from 24” to 72”. Gas broilers are also typically taller (6” to 12”) than electric models. Burners are positioned one for every 6” to 12” of grate area. A countertop model can fit snugly into a space 2” square. Cheesemelters are typically 36”, 48” or 60” wide.
Energy Source(s): Heat can come from any of four sources: charcoal, wood, gas or electricity. Conducted heat is transmitted through the top grate. Convected heat is carried by circulated air. Infrared rays emanate from the heat source, use less gas and reach operating temperatures in 90 seconds. Some models offer variable front-to-rear control of heat sources for more precise cooking control. Gas models have Btu ranging from 17,000 up to 217,500, depending on their size. Economy models may feature heavy, cast-iron radiants for even heat distribution and to hold cooking temperatures in excess of 700 °F.
Manufacturing Method: Most charbroilers feature a fixed distance between their heat sources and grates. Others, such as wood-burning and charcoal, and some gas units, feature adjustable grates, allowing cook staff to select settings most appropriate to product type and preparation volume.
Standard Features: A basic broiler typically represents a firebox with a steel or cast-iron top grate on which foods cook. Some gas charbroilers transfer heat via metal radiants made of stainless-steel alloy or cast iron. Many manufacturers offer grates that can be angled to direct grease away from the hearth. The result is that grease is instead sent down into a trough or tray where it is held until emptied. Most models cook best between 550 °F. and 625 °F.
New Features/Technology/Options: A new combination griddle/broiler is geared for menu expansion when space is limited. The unit's griddle fry top work area of 20 ½” deep x 24” wide features a two-position, pull-out rack finishing broiler section. Sub-radiant heating offered with some broiler units reduces gas use and grease fires while improving the evenness of top grid temperatures. Newer models may offer adjustable grates for greater cooking versatility. Sectional units accommodate accessories like shelves, flue risers, spreader cabinets and support frames. Some makers offer polyurethane swivel casters with front brakes. Stainless-steel sides and backs are available, as are adjustable legs. Burners equipped with a pilot shut-off valve and electric spark ignition on the pilots are helpful, as are brackets for wall mounting and interconnecting gas piping for range-mounting. A spatula-wide grease trough and tandem grease drawer system allow for easier cleaning.
Prime Functions: Broiling a wide variety of meats, fish and shellfish. Offers fresh-cooked flavor, appearance and evocative “backyard barbecue” aroma.
Key Kitchen Applications: The primary function of a char broiler is to cook a variety of foods at consistent temperatures and high production levels with as short a recovery time as possible.
Purchasing Guidelines: One of the primary benefits of broilers is in food presentation. Many diners prefer food cooked on charbroilers because they give food the appearance and the flavor of having been cooked on an outdoor grill.
Maintenance Requirements: Exhaust requirements are highly important. In the case of drop-in models, for example, exhaust requirements range from 900- to 1,200- cu.-ft. per minute (CFM). In addition, such units must be installed 1” from any side wall, at least 5” from a back wall and about 4” from any other piece of countertop equipment. Proper ventilation and frequent cleaning are equally important.
Food Safety & Sanitation Essentials: Prepares raw foods quickly and thoroughly, minimizing the chance of contamination during cooking. However, special attention is required when operators cook products over crushed lava rock or ceramic briquettes rather than over coal or wood embers. Rock or ceramic materials can accumulate large amounts of carbon and grease. Manufacturers recommend replacing elements and even the cast-iron grates that hold briquettes as frequently as twice a year. Some models offer self-cleaning heating elements.