Broiling is a quick, high-heat cooking method associated with tender cuts of meat and quick cooking vegetables. Broilers are generally the same device that heats up your oven, often at the top of the oven, though in same cases the heating element is at the bottom of the oven and broiler can be in a separate drawer below the oven. The basic idea is to have the item about 3-5 inches from the surface of the broiling element and to cook the item until both sides have a crusty, caramelized, slightly charred exterior. Broilers often do not have a heat setting so get to know your broiler (a few slices of toast are a good way to see how hot the broiler gets, how evenly it cooks and how long to cook an item).

Tips and tricks to broiling:

  • Most broilers have only two settings: on or off! You simply set the oven to broil and let it go. If your oven gives you options, you'll have to play with it to see which settings are ideal for which circumstances. Turn on the broiler 5 or so minutes before cooking to give the oven (or broiler compartment) time to heat up - much like starting the grill and then lowering the lid.

  • Take a look at the heating element on your broiler when you use it for the first time. You may need to rotate or flip the items to cook evenly.

  • Broiling is a quick cooking method. Most foods will be done in 5-10 minutes, after which it can quickly go from nicely seared to burned. You're really only cooking the outer surface of the food, this is why thin cuts of meat, quick-cooking fresh vegetables, and foods that fairly tender to start with are ideal for broiling.

  • If your food isn't done cooking, you can always put it in the oven for a few minutes to finish. And vice versa - you can cook food in the oven and then run it under the broiler at the very end to give it a nice crust or sear on the outside.

  • It's not strictly necessary to cook foods on a grated broiler pan. This pan allows air to circulate under the food, but you can accomplish the same effect by flipping the food partway through cooking. A pre-heated cast-iron skillet works well.

  • Leaving the oven or broiler compartment door partially ajar during cooking can also help. This keeps the cooking environment from getting too hot or steamy. Too hot and the broiler element could automatically shut off. Too steamy and the food won't develop a good caramelized crust.

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Excellent broiling items available at market:

Squash - Summer Tomatoes
Onions Tender, thin cuts of meat and shrimp– ask your farmer what is available!