Almost anything can be cooked on a grill. It's a healthful, easy and delicious way to prepare food.
But if you live in an apartment without a backyard or balcony (or in a climate where the weather is cold most of the year), your grilling options are seriously limited.
Sure, you can grill on a cast-iron skillet, a stovetop grill pan or a George-Foreman type of appliance, but most of those just flood your kitchen with smoke and don't end up tasting quite the same.
We've found your solution, and it's the best indoor grill we've ever tested.
Meet the Philips Smoke-Less Infrared Grill ($299.95 at Williams-Sonoma) -- a gimmicky-sounding name, but it works.
Because it uses indirect infrared light that emits from elements along the interior edges, the dripping tray below remains cool, so the juices don't sizzle when they hit the tray, thus creating smoke.
It grills very well -- a near perfect imitation to cooking over an open fire but emitting barely any smoke, if any at all -- and takes only 6 minutes to reach 446 degrees Fahrenheit.
It's easy to clean up, and heats up almost immediately.
A 1"-thick steak we prepared on it was cooked to medium-rare in about 7 minutes per side.
It comes with two racks: a wider, nonstick barbecue grid for bigger cuts of meat (rack of lamb, ribs or burgers) and a steel wire rack (for grilling fish, vegetables and fruit).
Everything but the heating element is dishwasher safe.
It gets very hot, obviously -- like, sweat-your-face-off in the kitchen hot. So you can't use it on any space on your counter that's underneath cabinets, lest you want to melt them.
You also can't really slather sauces or juices onto your meats while they grill, as there's a good chance the liquid will drip down onto the heating elements situated around the grill interior. That will create a little smoke, and also makes it harder to clean when that happens.
It's also kind of bulky, which makes storage -- especially if you live in a smaller apartment -- kind of tricky. But it's smaller than an outdoor grill, about the size of two shoe boxes.
It's grilling season again, and we're happy to keep this one in our kitchen arsenal.
To get you inspired, we recommend brushing up on your grilling how-tos with the following cookbooks, or by using the recipes below.
Master of the Grill ($17.50) -- In this new release from America's Test Kitchen, their tireless chefs explain the difference between grill tongs (it's all about comfort), why you'd need gelatin to make a perfect burger (it acts like a sponge) or which fish is best for the grill (not the flaky kind), as well as more than 400 recipes.
The Essential New York Times Grilling Cookbook ($24.95) -- With a title like this, you can see that the New York Times is proud of itself -- but when you write about food for more than a century, you learn some things. This great tome is packed with recipes, essays and journalism from its many contributors: Mark Bittman, Craig Claiborne and Sam Sifton all show up, as do tons of high-quality, undoubtedly fact-checked recipes.