As much as I love Cuisinart products I have positive and negative comments regarding this particular appliance. This is what the Cuisinart GriddlerTM Jr. can do. It has the ability to provide you with indoor open grilling, Panini pressing and contact grilling. It has a stainless steel finish and measures approximately 6.5h x 14.4w x 12.2d. Please read on!
Approaching Christmas giving of 2012, I wondered what to get my husband for a gift. As we work opposite shifts, I decided to purchase this Cuisinart GriddlerTM Jr., which was on sale at that time on the Sears site for $39.00 just before Christmas. He loves to make sandwiches, so I thought this would be the perfect gift!
Making a Panini on the Cuisinart GriddlerTM Jr.
First of all, you can put together any sandwich you want and press it on this griddle, using the Panini method. The instructions tell you to free the top so that it swivels. At first, we had a bit of trouble doing this as we would instead release the plate and have to start over. It took only a few trys to get it down!
The sandwiches take approximately 3 - 5 minutes to grill depending on how thick the bread is you are using and how much filling you have in your sandwich. That is normal for any Panini grill. The lighter the filling the less time it takes! I have to say that sandwiches turn out fabulous on this griddle. The bread has great grill marks and is nice and crunchy, just like you'd expect from a grilled deli sandwich. The ingredients in the sandwich become hot and the cheese is way melted!
Cleaning up the grill plates after a sandwich is pretty much a cinch as long as the plates are still warm. A little hot soapy water and a soft scrub sponge have it cleaned up in no time.
Contact Grilling on the Cuisinart GriddlerTM Jr.
Next, my family wanted some grilled chicken. As I no longer have an outdoor grill, I wanted to create the grill marks and get that somewhat outdoor flavor. So using the contact grilling method, that is, pulling the top handle down over the bottom and cooking the chicken from both sides. I sprayed non-stick spray release on the plates as instructed in the manual.
The grill marks were great and they didn't take very long to cook at all. However! After basting my chicken in teriyaki sauce, which contains sugar, it took me soaking the plates several times to remove the sticky stuff from the plates. That was very frustrating and took more time than I wanted cleaning it.
Open Grilling on the Cuisinart GriddlerTM Jr.
Again, I cooked chicken which was simply marinated in herbs, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil, using the open grill method. Meaning, you open up both plates and lay them flat. One side of the grill dips down slightly and does not lay parallel with the other side.
I sprayed the plates again like a good consumer, following instructions. It seemed like forever for the grill to get really hot! It became so frustrating putting a piece of chicken on the grill and having it not sizzle. It took me almost 1 hour to cook thin chicken filets, in batches, using this method (about 12 filets.) The 2 little drip cups have to be poised just correctly for grease and drippings to fall correctly into the cup.
In my opinion Cuisinart need to improve this product a little, especially the open grilling method and the nasty clean up job of the plates with certain foods. The plates are definitely not non-stick! It tells you in the manual that the plates are easy to clean. This is not true from my experience of using the other 2 methods with this appliance.
The sandwich grilling is awesome which we use several times a week. The contact grilling is fast and creates an outdoor grill look to your food and turns out moist and delicious! The open grilling method leaves something to be desired and takes too much time, along with too many soakings of the plates, depending on what you marinate your food in.
The price from last year increased dramatically. I paid $39.99 with my own money just before Christmas at Sears of 2012 and it was on sale. This year on the same site the Cuisinart GriddlerTM Jr. is retailing for $85.49 and is not on sale!
The appliance is compact and sits nicely on a little shelf next to the coffee pot in my kitchen. It is great for small kitchens and college students who want to cook something quickly and create no heat in a tiny space. It is not a perfect appliance in my opinion and at the raised retail price of $85.00 in December, 2013, I think it should be!