It’s a hot summer day. The pool is sparkling, the tummies are grumbling, and that empty grill is calling your name. So you press your burgers into patties, load up the trays, gather up the charcoal, and … your all-too jolly neighbor has beaten you to the punch.
You consider “working in” a round of your goodies with his seemingly endless stream of ballpark franks and cheeseburgers, but judging by the tribe of wee ones running around his ankles and squawking for dinner, you think again.
Or, maybe you’ve dragged your arsenal and entourage out to the pool to discover that the grill you could have sworn! was there the day before has now gone mysteriously missing. Or maybe it’s covered in so much charred gunk you’re having second thoughts. Or maybe your charcoal won’t light, and after coaxing and cussing and throwing an all-out fit, you’re in dire need of a Plan B. Maybe someone just forgot to seal up the propane tank.
Whatever the scenario, take a deep breath and rest assured—your broiler can act as a great stand-in when grilling goes wrong. In many ways, broiling and grilling are similar methods (both use intense, quasi-direct heat), but there are some considerations you should keep in mind when using the broiler as a back-up.
First, arrange your oven rack as close to the bottom of the oven as possible—this is the best way to simulate the upward cooking action you get on a grill. Set your oven to broil and your temperature, if offered separately, to 400˚ – 450˚F (lower temps are good for things you want to tenderize and cook slowly, higher temps are better for that quick, flame-broiled approach).
If you’re working with an oil-based marinade or fatty meats, it’s best to set them up on a broiler pan to catch any grease that drips away. Otherwise, place your goods directly on the rack. Crack your oven door slightly or open it periodically to prevent the heat from turning off once it reaches the right temperature (this could result in uneven cooking or water-logged veggies).
Monitor your stuff closely, just as you would on a grill. Turn with tongs, test for doneness, and use a thermometer to make sure your meats have reached the appropriate internal temperature.
You won’t get quite the same grilled flavor or those lovely, dark scores of color on your finished product, but when all else fails, the broiler can be your best friend.