Types: Charbroilers are available in both floor-standing and countertop models. The most common installation is a counter-mounted unit sitting on an open-base table or a refrigerated base at a cooking station. Specialty broilers include wall- and range-mounted salamander broilers for finishing products or for smaller à la carte entrées.
Capacities/Footprints: Unit sizes are available in 1-foot increments, with the most common being 24, 36, 48, 60 and 72 inches. Broiler production capacities vary greatly. A 15˝ x 22˝ charbroiler's grid can cook 24 hamburgers per load or 340 per hour. A 16˝ x 20˝ grid will produce about 380 an hour, while a 20˝ x 32˝ model can turn out as many as 760 burgers in 60 minutes. Some charbroilers are sized to accommodate smaller kitchens.
Energy Sources: Heat can come from a number of sources, including charcoal, wood, gas or electricity. Lava-rock or briquette-style charboilers also are available. These units are more popular with display-cooking concepts. Most units consume between 30,000 and 40,000 Btus per foot in a 20- to 24-inch-deep cooking area. There is typically one burner for every 6 inches of cooking grate width.
Manufacturing Method: Exteriors are typically made of stainless steel for ease of cleaning, and burner boxes and chassis are manufactured from aluminized steel for strength and corrosion resistance. Charbroiler grates are available in cast-iron and fabricated-steel constructions. Every grate design has different cooking characteristics, and consideration should be given to product mix and cooking style before settling on specifications. Most charbroilers feature a fixed distance between their heat sources and grates.
Standard Features: A basic broiler typically consists of a firebox with a steel or cast-iron top grate on which foods cook. Some gas charbroilers transfer heat via metal radiants made of stainless steel alloy or cast iron.
New Features/Technology/Options: Sectional units accommodate accessories like shelves, flue risers, spreader cabinets and support frames. Burners equipped with a pilot shut-off valve and electric spark ignition on the pilots are available on some models. A spatula-wide grease trough and tandem grease drawers allow for easier cleaning.
Prime Functions: Charbroilers grill and broil a wide variety of meats, fish and shellfish, offering fresh-cooked flavor, visual appeal and evocative "backyard barbecue" aromas.
Key Kitchen Applications: The primary function of a charbroiler is to cook a wide variety of foods at high production levels with as short a recovery time as possible.
Purchasing Guidelines: Charboilers with tighter cooking profiles across the grate benefit users because cook times are more consistent. Unit performance is dependent on correct gas pressure and burner adjustment. Users must always ensure that the charboiler is not starved for gas if it is sharing a common gas line with other equipment.
Maintenance Requirements: Exhaust requirements are highly important. In the case of drop-in models, for example, exhaust requirements range from 900 to 1,200 cu. ft. per minute (CFM). Proper ventilation and frequent cleaning are equally important. Water and grease pans need to be emptied at least daily. Radiants should be brushed off daily to remove any food debris. Ceramic briquettes need to be flipped regularly so the heat can clean them. Burners should be inspected for proper combustion (black soot indicates incomplete combustion). A gas-service technician should be called in to adjust air shutters on burners. If food debris and materials build up on the unit, this will shorten the charboiler's service life and pose a fire hazard.
Food Safety and Sanitation Essentials: Charbroiler performance and optimal cooking results depend on proper cleaning. Products cooked on a charbroiler that exhibit well-defined sear marks ("branding") are appealing to customers. During service, grates should be cleaned routinely with a coarse steel brush between product loads. Cooking grates should be routinely dressed with vegetable oil after they are wire-brushed to facilitate a clean, non-stick release when the food portion is turned. Poor cooking performance can also occur if the grates are clogged or closed due to grease buildup and improper maintenance.