Charbroilers are a great way to add a smokey, char-grilled flavor to foods, while also putting grill marks on sandwiches and vegetables. These devices are used primarily for meats, including fish, hamburgers, chicken and steaks, but can also be useful in finishing off dishes and reheating entrees. A charbroiler is like a firebox with a grate over the flame and uses dry heat to cook, reheat and brown foods. There are a variety of different charbroilers available to accommodate the unique needs of a club’s operation, regardless of volume, menu and available space.
While available in many sizes, the typical charbroiler offers a large, open cooking area with a much larger cooking surface or grate compared to the average grill, allowing for mass quantities of food to be cooked at once. Charbroilers generally operate at high temperatures of 550 degrees Fahrenheit and up. Burners are spaced at regular intervals of about 12-15 inches across the bottom of the unit, with high-end models having less space between burners for more even heating, control and concentrated output.
Nearly all commercial charbroilers come with cast iron cooking grates. Cast iron is extremely durable and retains heat well. Outdoor charbroilers might utilize stainless steel or chrome-plated grates, which usually cost more, but they’ll be more corrosion-resistant compared to the cast iron ones used most commonly in indoor models. Stainless steel grates also won’t hold the heat as well as cast iron, but may last longer if your kitchen staff isn’t as diligent with cleaning the broiler.
Most charbroiler grates are constructed in sections that you can lift out for cleaning, though some only offer fixed grates. This sectional design also allows you to mix and match widths and styles to accommodate different foods. Adjustable grates allow you to change the height of the back part of the grate to move that section farther away from the flames for greater cooking flexibility. If the grates on a charbroiler offer a “thinner” and “thicker” width of bar, different grill marks can be achieved by simply flipping them over. Many manufacturers also offer a “seafood grate” with thicker or more closely spaced bars to better support delicate items during cooking.
Commercial charbroilers are often gas-powered using either propane or a natural gas hookup. Gas charbroilers are far more common and have a heating element that warms the grill grates more evenly than a charcoal grill in particular. Radiant-heat models use an angled piece of metal above the flame source to heat the grates, while other harder-to-clean models heat lava rocks beneath the grates instead. Electric charbroilers are available for those operations without a gas utility line and heat food by using elements.
Whether a countertop, freestanding or outdoor model, it’s important to maintain and clean your charbroiler. Taking care of your charbroiler properly will not only help it last longer, but it will also deliver better cooking results.