I should have known when we couldn't find a commercial or infomercial.
I should have known when the YouTube demo videos never show the finished food product.
The upright indoor grill claims to cook an entire meal -- meat, veggies, whatever -- on both sides at the same time. Its upright design is supposed to drain fat into its handy drip-tray for an efficient, smokeless, indoor grilling of healthier food.
Efficient? Not even close.
We started with fresh peppers, onions and a butcher-cut strip steak. Chandler sliced the veggies for grilling, then positioned them and the steak inside the Ronco Ready Grill's basket grates -- meat first, as directed.
The instructions suggested a 3-minute pre-heating, then nine to ten minutes to cook the steak medium with the vegetables. Chandler placed the food inside the Ronco Ready Grill and set it for nine minutes.
After nine minutes, neither the steak nor the veggies were done.
"It's completely rare on the inside," Chandler observed.
We tried again, another nine minutes. So we're talking a total of 18 minutes, now.
After 18 minutes, the steak was a nice medium-rare. 18 minutes.
Folks, I'm no pro, but I can crank out a gorgeous medium-rare steak in less than half that time on a traditional grill.
"It doesn't give you the grill marks that you traditionally get with a grill," Chandler said. "The peppers are cooked through, but I would say the onions need a little bit more time."
The Ronco Ready Grill also claims to grill food straight from the freezer. So we pulled two frozen chicken breasts and a small bag of frozen asparagus. The instructions suggest a 25-minute cook after pre-heating. Done.
But the chicken's not.
"138 degrees," measured Chandler. "It's not ready. It still has to go up 30 more degrees. Then you look at the asparagus. It's over-cooked. Way over-cooked. I really don't think this is working like it said it would."
Ronco issued this statement in response to our test results:
"The Ronco Ready Grill allows consumers to prepare complete meal deals based on recipes tested, timed and included in the Ready Grill Grilling cookbook. The instruction booklet notes that additional food combinations will take some experimentation time by the home cook. This is a learned experience. We recommend that rather than a 'Don't Buy' rating, that you give the Ready Grill a 'Learned Experience' rating as those who have been using the grill are finding indoor grilling to be a positive experience."
I'm sure indoor grilling is a positive experience.
Just not with the Ronco Ready Grill -- not for $79.99.
"Really?!" said a sticker-shocked Chandler. "Well, that's kind of expensive for something that really didn't work!"