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This is a second one of these things i've bought ...
on December 1, 2015
I bought a G4 Griddler from Amazon in 2005, and used it a couple of times a week (at least) until it had to be put out to pasture in 2010 due to failure of the non-stick coating on the plates. (The coating started to bubble and peel, and no one wants that in their food...) I loved it. (See my review of the Cuisinart GR-4 Griddler Stainless-Steel 4-in-1 Grill/Griddle and Panini Press) It was still working great, but replacement plates were not available.
I was elated when offered the opportunity to review its smarter younger brother, the GR-4NAM Griddler. I could hardly wait for it to get here and run it through its paces.
At first glance, the GR-4NAM looks virtually identical to the G4. However, closer inspection reveals that it has been totally redesigned, and for the better.
Improvement: The grease catcher used to be a little cup that had to be set under a spout on the side of the bottom plate. If it was positioned incorrectly, (or forgotten about), greased dripped out on the counter. The grease catcher is now integrated into the Griddler as a drawer-like device that can be pulled out to clean, and then put back in place for the next use.
Improvement: The original G4 had two sets of plates - one flat set, one ridged set (for paninis). There is now one reversible set of plates (ridged on one side, flat on the other), and therefore no need to find a storage place for the plates not in use. The new plates have a good substantial weight. I don't have the old ones here for comparison, but the quality of the plates certainly was not cheapened.
Improvement: It used to be a little tricky to put the plates in place and to remove them. There was also a difference between the top plate and the bottom, so you had to be careful not to try to put them in the wrong way. The plates now have an identical shape, so they are interchangeable, and the release buttons activate a spring-loaded mechanism that pops the plate loose for easy removal.
Now, to see how it cooks: The Griddler takes about as long to warm up as a good-quality waffle iron. Just when you start to get impatient with it, it's ready.
The first thing that I cooked was a no-no in the eyes of Cuisinart - a bone-in, skin-on leg and thigh chicken quarter. Too thick, they say. HA! says I, because I am a bit of an anarchist. I marinated the chicken in olive oil and rosemary, heated the Griddler to Medium. I cooked it on the panini plates because I love those little fake barbeque stripes across my food. It worked just fine. (I should have taken a picture, it came out looking beautiful. But I was hungry.)
Word of warning: Do not cook thick or fatty meat on High - you will get grease spatters all over the place. Medium works just fine in such instances.
I discovered from my old Griddler that when cooking meat it's best to turn off the heat before it's done, and let it finish cooking with the residual heat in the plates. That way the meat does not get overdone.
For clean-up, I let the plates cool down, and then put a wet paper towel across the bottom plate and close the lid and let it sit for a while. The dampness softens anything that is stuck to the plates, and then it can be easily washed off with a sudsy sponge or dish wand.
Today for lunch, I made myself a sandwich with sliced sourdough bread, cooked sliced chicken breast, fresh grated parmesan cheese and dried basil. I followed the panini directions in the small cookbook that comes with the Griddler. Well, I sort of followed the directions... Cuisinart recommends brushing the outside of the sandwich with olive oil. I prefer to use melted butter on panini because it makes the sandwich crisper.
I preheated the Griddler on High, placed the sandwich inside, and applied light pressure for about 30 seconds, and then let it cook. The directions say to cook panini for about 4 -5 minutes, but my sandwich was ready to eat in 2 minutes. Maybe the butter makes the bread brown faster than olive oil.
In any case, it was beautiful - evenly browned, crunchy and delicious, and I did take a picture (see product images).
How durable will the GR-4NAM be? Good question. From everything that I can see so far, Cuisinart has only made the Griddler better. But time is the real test of quality. I will report back from time to time regarding durability.
Right now, I'd say this looks like an excellent buy.
UPDATE, January 2011:
The Griddler is still in great shape. Granted, I am not using it as frequently as I did my original one, but that's because there are fewer mouths to feed in my household now than there used to be. I have no cautionary tales to add to the review. Hmmm... I think I'll go make a grilled cheese sandwich....
Additional thought: Do not spray the non-stick plates with Pam or similar non-stick coating. I did not realize that this was not a good idea until I purchased some high-end non-stick cookware, and the manufacturer stated that doing so may leave a residue on the coating that destroys the non-stick properties.