I Had No Idea What an Over-Fired Broiler Was Until I Used One at Home

I‘ll be the first to admit that I’m terrified of an open flame. I’ve never been the best griller and normally leave that task to others on countless camping trips, backyard barbecues, and tailgates. When the Otto Wilde Grillers O.F.B. (Over-fired Broiler) arrived at my desk, I was even more intimidated. After all, the major selling point of this new-fangled grill is that it reaches temperatures as high as 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit in about five minutes. That is no exaggeration, y’all. I cooked with the Otto Wilde and despite my fear of flames, I actually enjoyed using it. That doesn’t mean it’s perfect, though.

As apartment-dwellers, my boyfriend and I are prohibited from owning grills or doing anything fun. The second part is a lie, but feels true. Jokes aside, if there’s one thing that my boyfriend desperately wants in the world, it’s a grill. When the Otto Wilde O.F.B. arrived, he was skeptical. After all, this isn’t so much a grill as it is a professional grade oven with two infrared gas burners that can be separately adjusted.

The grill itself is small enough to fit on the cheapest patio set Ikea has, which means it will fit on your patio, too. To get started, all you need to do is slide in the cast iron cooking grate and the stainless steel drip tray, and lever up to the right height. We decided, of course, to make steaks one night on the grill and after, made our entire Easter dinner with the Otto O.F.B. Here’s the verdict.

1. The perfect steak has never been easier. 

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An inside view. Shannon Ratliff

Filet mignon seemed to be the obvious choice to christen the Otto on our patio. I bought the thickest available and came home to test out Otto’s O.F.B. An invention from Germany, the gas grill which runs on propane, makes some seriously good steak. After plugging in the gas hose and waiting about two minutes, the grill was up to full heat and ready to sear those beautiful steaks.

We flipped the steaks once, and waited until the meat thermometer read 134 degrees Fahrenheit for a perfect medium-rare bite. That took about seven to nine minutes because the steaks were so thick.

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Eat your radish tops, y’all! The perfect filet. Shannon Ratliff

Waiting for the steaks to rest was pure agony, my boyfriend nor I could wait to see just how the steaks looked on the inside and y’all, you’re looking at the best steak ever grilled at home.

Because the broiler sears the steak from the top, the meat juices run back into the steak and maintain a crisp, flavorful bite. You can see the perfect cooking line around the inside. When it comes to steaks, there’s no doubt that the O.F.B. grill was made for the job. There was really no downside to cooking the steaks. The cast iron grill grate created gorgeous sear marks with such a nice crust.

2. This grill gets hot. Real hot.

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Sirloin steaks in, Trader Joe’s wine in a can, and a meat thermometer: all you need. Shannon Ratliff.

Unless you have worked in a professional grade kitchen, the high temperatures from the infrared gas units might scare you a little bit. I was terribly nervous, afraid that I’d lose what few blonde eyebrows I have due to a flare-up. However, it doesn’t flare up at you but instead out from the top of the grill. You’re not necessarily in the danger zone, but it’s something to be mindful of, especially when you turn on the grill. It flames out much like turning on a stovetop burner.

However, the benefit of this heat is that your meat cooks quickly, and the multi-purpose tool lever that adjusts the height of the grill grate lets you play with the broiler atop your food, allowing you to sear for a crust and lower it to cook through.

3. It’s versatile, but it won’t replace your oven.  

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Ready to hit the grill. Shannon Ratliff.

For Easter dinner, I wanted to whip up sirloin steaks, grilled vegetables, and a dessert since the filet mignon was such a success. I hit the Otto Wilde Griller recipe ebook and found a recipe for Grilled Bananas on Ricotta Cream. Aiming to test out the versatility of the grill, I also wanted to use cookware in it so I found this recipe for Grilled Feta with Vegetables and Herbs. I didn’t have feta on hand, so I just added some whole garlic cloves and nixed the red onion to save my eyes from tears.

One of these recipes worked well, but one did not. Maybe it was my heavy-duty cookware, but unfortunately the vegetables burned on top before they were cooked underneath. Even with the lever on the lowest setting, we just couldn’t find the right temperature that would allow the vegetables in the ceramic stoneware to cook evenly without charring the ever-lovin’ smoke out of the vegetables.

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These vegetables were not cooked, but the tomatoes were amazing. Shannon Ratliff.

I really wanted these vegetables to work so I could tell y’all that this grill is great for more than just common beef cuts, but it seems like using foil and not cookware is the way to go next time.

As for the recipe that worked, this should be the only dessert you make this summer. With five ingredients (ricotta, sugar, brown sugar or turbinado sugar, vanilla, and bananas), this simple sweet is something you can make right now with pantry ingredients.

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This dessert tastes way more expensive than it is. Shannon Ratliff.

Caramelizing the brown sugar on top while keeping the cream underneath cool, the bananas were perfectly caramelized and it added just the right amount of crunch.

The best part is that they didn’t even leak out of the cocottes. Talk about easy cleaning! Even if you don’t have this premium grill, you can make this dessert tonight in your own oven using the broiler.

4. The small surface area is a blessing… and a curse.

Let’s put it this way: If you can’t fit it on your cutting board, you probably can’t fit it in the grill. The grilling surface is tight, which makes sense when you consider that the grill, for all of its power, fairly small. I think this is a great feature and I’m here to celebrate it because as someone that lives in a small apartment, it’s just not feasible to have a huge grill in the corner of the patio that is larger than the patio itself. Also, did I mention we can’t have one, anyways?

I appreciate the small grilling surface because I calmly prepped everything beforehand and was able to relax while cooking. My boyfriend, on the other hand, missed the indirect cooking action of a regular ol’ gas grill. While he agreed that the steak was delicious and quick, he just couldn’t stop waxing poetic about a full-size. Have you ever wanted to stick someone’s head in a grill?

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Ask your neighborhood friendly grillmaster for a hand with your beer. Shannon Ratliff.

What he did thoroughly enjoy was the brilliance of German engineering that made the lever handle function as a bottle opener.

So take this with a grain of salt: The girl who’s scared of grillin’ likes the simplicity of the grilling surface even if it gets toasty, but the guy who typically grills at home misses the ability to grill for a crowd at once.

5. It’s easy to use.

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We had to cook in the dark to test its functionality by flashlight. Shannon Ratliff.

Bottom line, this grill is easy as pie to use. Simply plug in the propane gas tank and turn it on using the two buttons at the top, one for each burner. It comes out of the box ready to use, though we were missing the drip tray tongs. I see now that you have the option to buy them online, along with a grill cover and an Otto’s pizza stone. We did spend about 20 minutes looking for the drip tray tongs, but I imagine that in the new instruction manual, it will not say that they are included.

For easy cleaning, all you have to do is wipe away any crust from the grill grate and remove the stainless steel drip tray. I put mine right into the dishwasher after each use and it was delightful to clean up that easy.

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The sirloin steaks ready for their close-up. Shannon Ratliff.

At $1,195, this grill is an investment. If you’re a regular meat eater, especially if you have a freezer full of wild game every year, this grill will pleasantly surprise you based on its ability to cook any meat to succulent precision. It cuts down the time of grilling, from waiting for the thing to heat up to cooking your thick steaks through, meaning dinner is on the table faster.

This would make a great grill to take on the go. The small size makes it convenient to transport, though it is really heavy. I wasn’t able to lift it myself, but that is what my boyfriend is for. I know we’ll continue to use the grill all year long, especially because I find it easy to use. Maybe I’ll even become the grillmaster around our apartment now. Only time will tell.
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