To Grill is to cook something on an open grate with a high heat source coming from below. Above the heat source there is a grate, through which you can see the heat source. The heat source below can be gas, electric, charcoal or some other form of fuel that burns such as wood or coals.
The grate allows fat from the food to drip away below.
Grill can actually refer either to the act of cooking this way, or to the open grate on which the food is placed, or to the complete cooking device, as in a gas backyard grill that you cook steaks and burgers on.
In the UK, the word "grill" is actually misused to mean an overhead heat source, when the proper word is "broiler" in homes, "salamander" in restaurants." UK written recipes will instruct you to brown food "under the grill", which would have Americans scratching their heads trying to figure out how to insert their au gratin in the tiny space under the burner in their backyard gas grill.
Grill is also misused in North American to refer to a pan that has a solid bottom with ridges or grooves in it. Granted that the lines are designed to fake the visual impression of something having been grilled -- but ridges or not, it's still just a ridged frying pan, and not a grill. There is no such as a "grill frying pan." If it's got a solid bottom, it's either a frying pan, a griddle (or in Scotland, a girdle.)
Granted, both incorrect usages are so deeply entrenched that you'll never change people on this. Given, however, it is CooksInfo.com's job in the world is to distinguish these differences, we have to be pedantic on this at least on paper. For instance, what North Americans call a "grilled cheese sandwich" is actually a "griddled" or "fried" cheese sandwich. But not even we are delusional enough to think we can launch a successful campaign to correct the term. In the American south, the usage can be even more off-base, where such sandwiches are sometimes described as "grill-fried." When many people in the UK and in Canada grill outside, even though they are doing true grilling, they refer to the process as "barbequing." Australians throw everybody off by saying they are putting food "in the griller." Gas grills can be run off of propane tanks, or, off of fixed gas lines running from the house. If you plan to run yours off a fixed gas line, check to see what your gas grill is "spec'd" for. If for instance it is "spec'd" for 95,000 BTU and your gas pipe connection is only, say, 35,000 BTU max, then your grill will never get searing hot because the gas line won't be apply to supply the draw that the grill needs.
© Denzil Green
In the 1300s, only wealthier homes had grills. Grills could also be used to toast bread.
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Griller (French); Grillen (German); Griglia (Italian); Asar a la parrilla (Spanish)