PROS: Fast, easy to use, convenient for the office, far superior to microwave alone
It’s no secret that the microwave is the enemy of bread. In mere seconds, this otherwise ultra-timesaving contraption can transform the crispiest thin pizza crust or the airiest croissant into a moisture-laden gummy lump. Alas, this makes the option of preparing or reheating our beloved panini quickly and conveniently in the microwave essentially nonexistent. Or is it?
With technology ever improving, I thought sure that someone somewhere must have devised some kind of gadget to help keep bread crisp in the microwave. Clearly, the HotPockets folks had it figured out. After a little searching online, I happened upon the MicroGrill – a microwave-safe “grill” that promised to “convert your microwave into a turbo-charged grilling machine.” Could this be true? If so, move over Lean Cuisine – freshly-prepared panini may be coming to an office kitchen near you!
Better than Microwave Alone…But I Wouldn’t Call it “Grilled”
When I first opened the Micro Grill packaging I was immediately struck by the simplicity of the product. It’s not often that I find a kitchen gadget that’s very lightweight and with minimal packaging (just two small pieces of styrofoam!). I gave it a quick wash in the sink (it’s also dishwasher-safe) and then prepared to give it a go.
The little recipe booklet that comes in the box recommends “preheating” the Micro Grill by heating it in the microwave on its own for two minutes. While it was heating, I assembled a very simple ham and swiss sandwich on sliced sourdough, spraying the outside of the bread with olive oil cooking spray. Once the Micro Grill was ready, I loaded in my sandwich and cooked it for another 2 minutes, according to the directions. If I could make good panini in 4 minutes total, already the Micro Grill was displaying a distinct advantage over a traditional panini press – speed! But would a fast sandwich be a good sandwich?
Two minutes later, I had my answer: kind of. As you can see in the photos, the Micro Grill did produce grill marks. They weren’t very dark or deep, but they were there. When I went to cut the sandwich in half, I could tell right away that the bread was pretty soft rather than crisp. Soft, but not gummy, as it would have been in the microwave alone. Tastewise, it wasn’t a bad sandwich – just not what I would call a panino.
Would I use the Micro Grill as my primary panini maker? Absolutely not. I like my panini to come out nice and crispy, even if it means waiting 10 minutes or so. Would I use it to make hot sandwiches at work or to reheat pre-grilled panini? Sure! Unlike the microwave alone, the Micro Grill will heat bread without turning it gummy. So if heat, not crispness, is your goal, the Micro Grill handles the task well.
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