Broiling is a cooking process which involves the use of very high heat for a short period of time. In addition to producing food quickly, broiling is also used for low fat cooking. As a general rule of thumb, thinner cuts of meat are more suitable for broiling, to ensure that the meat is cooked all the way through. Meat, poultry, vegetables, and seafood can all be broiled.
There are two different types of broiling. One involves cooking the food in an oven which is set to a “broil” setting. The other is called pan broiling, and it takes places on the stovetop using dry, high heat. Both produce slightly different end products, especially pan broiling, which can sometimes be closer to sauteeing than broiling. Broiling tends to produce a large amount of smoke, so it is important to do it in conditions with good ventilation.
To broil in an oven, most people use an oven with a separate broiler rack, usually located beneath the oven. The food being broiled is inserted, and the oven is turned to “broil.” Broiling directs intense heat at the food from directly above to quickly sear and cook it. The food may need to be turned if it is particularly thick, and it should be broiled in a sturdy cooking pan over a broiler tray.
To broil on the stovetop, a sturdy frying pan is used. The stove is adjusted to a high setting, which sears the meat when it is placed in the pan. As fat is produced, it is usually poured off. Thick foods should always be flipped to ensure that they are properly cooked.
Some people liken broiling to grilling, since it is essentially grilling in reverse. The heat comes from above, rather than below, but in both instances high heat quickly sears the food, sealing in flavor and moisture. As the heat penetrates the food, the food is cooked through. Both broiling and grilling can cause food to burn if it is not carefully watched, so always keep an eye on foods being broiled.
Typically, food is marinated before broiling. Most cooks go light on the fat, both to make the food healthier and to reduce the amount of smoke produced. Marinades which are high in sugar can also produce a great deal of smoke, and may form unappetizing bits of charred material. Remember that broiling pans and trays are very hot, so handle them with care until they cool.