Discover how this classic oven method can be used to quick-cook meats, poultry, seafood, and, even more surprising, vegetables and fruits.
Broiling means to cook food using the direct, dry heat from your oven broiler. Some people think of broiling as grilling's cousin because broiled foods brown on the surface and have a caramelized taste. Broiling is often used for meat, poultry, and fish, but creative cooks know that broiling does wonders for many fruits and veggies, too. There are several advantages to broiling: Most foods take only about 15 minutes to cook and, unlike grilling, weather is not an issue, and prep and cleanup are simple.
Spray nonstick pans with nonstick cooking spray. If you don't have a nonstick pan or you are cooking messy foods, you can line the top and bottom parts of the broiler pan with regular or nonstick aluminum foil. For the top broiler pan, be sure to cut slits through the foil so fat can drain. Another option is to grease the broiler pan with a brush dipped in softened butter or shortening.
To make sure your oven rack is at the right height, in a cold oven place pan with the food on the top oven rack. Adjust rack until the surface of the food to be broiled is at the recommended distance from the broiler element. See individual foods and recipes below for guidelines.
For details and time charts on broiling meat, steaks, and poultry, click on the following links: broiling meat, broiling steaks, and broiling poultry. For fish fillets or steaks, place fish on the greased rack of a broiler pan, adjusting so the fish is about 4 inches from the heat source. For fillets, tuck under any thin edges. Brush fish with olive oil or melted butter. Broil 4 to 6 minutes per 1/2-inch thickness. If fish is thicker than 1 inch, turn once halfway through broiling time. Minutes count when it comes to fish, so keep a close eye on it. Properly cooked white-flesh fish is opaque and it flakes when tested with a fork. Juices should be milky white. For darker-flesh fish, such as salmon, simply use the fork test -- the flesh should flake easily.
Broiling vegetables gives them caramelized edges and boosts flavor while keeping them crisp-tender. Sweet peppers and chile peppers are often broiled for a charred flavor and to help loosen the skin for peeling. Use a 15x10x1 pan instead of a broiler pan for veggies that need to be stirred while broiling. Line the pan with aluminum foil for easy cleanup.
Grilled fruit is a popular addition to toss into salads, chop in salsas, or serve as a dessert. Use a foil-lined 15x10x1-inch baking pan for these fruits.