Broiling is quicker than roasting, and the direct heat can create a tasty crust on the outside and a juicy flavorful inside. Unfortunately, many cooks aren’t broiling effectively. Here’s what you may be doing wrong and what to do instead…

Common Mistakes

Not waiting for the broiler to preheat. The food won’t have a seared crust. It takes five to 10 minutes to preheat a broiler depending on the model.

Adding cold food to the broiler. Food should be at room temperature. Cold food will take longer to cook through, and the outside may burn.

Placing the food too far from the heat on the middle or lower oven rack. The food will bake rather than broil. The food should be about four or five inches from the heat for optimal broiling.

Not drying marinated food with a paper towel. The food will steam and smoke instead of broil.

Leaving visible fat on meat. Trimming the fat prevents flare-ups.

Using glass or ceramic dishes under the broiler (unless specifically made for the broiler). These may crack under the direct heat.

Using a fork to turn meat or a knife to cut into it to see if it’s ready. These will prick the meat, and juices will be lost, making the meat dry. Use tongs to turn the meat and an instant-read thermometer, which makes only one small hole, to test for doneness.

Broiling different-sized ingredients together. Some will cook faster than others. So if, say, you’re broiling two steaks, make sure they’re about the same size—one-and-a-half-inches thick is optimal.

Not watching carefully. Food can go from brown to black in minutes. Set a timer for two minutes to remind you to look at the food. Continue to set the timer until the food is ready.

Broiling trick: Create a bronzed finish to large chicken pieces roasted in the oven by placing them under the broiler for two minutes.

Turning delicate food such as fish fillets. It is better to place a baking tray in the broiler while it preheats. When the broiler is ready, add the fish fillet to the tray. The heat from the pan will help cook the bottom of the fish and will help the whole piece cook more quickly, keeping it moist. You won’t have to turn the fillet over during cooking, risking its falling apart. Delicious: While the fish broils, sauté pine nuts and parsley in a little olive oil. When the fish is cooked, season with salt and pepper and spoon the pine nuts and parsley on top.

Door Open or Closed?

The general rule is to leave the door open when using an electric broiler and closed with a gas broiler. A gas broiler broils at a higher temperature and can produce more smoke. However, it depends on the broiler—consult your user manual.

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