The unit comes in two parts, a molded plastic main section with nonstick plates, and a removable section of nonstick plates where most of the food cooking is done. Warning: the entire unit gets very hot, so make sure to use an insulated mitt or pad when touching any part of the device. Cleanup though is very easy, all food particles wipe up in a second with a wet cloth, paper towel or soft sponge. Or remove the inner section for a thorough washup; use soap, water and soft sponge; no harsh chemicals or abrasive sponge.
Besides the unit itself, the only other main utensil you'll need is a small spatula to help push the cooked sandwich through the cooking rings and onto your plate, or napkin if you're on the go.
When it comes to the ingredients, your own taste and imagination will be your guide. The choices for a bread are diverse; English muffin, roll, biscuit, flatbread, bagel thin, etc; whole grain, wheat, rye, seeded, unseeded, etc. The rule for size is that the total two layers (top and bottom combined) should be no more than a half inch thick; each layer should be 1/4 inch maximum in thickness. Now while an English muffin will fit inside perfectly, other breads may have to be trimmed slightly to fit the round cooking sections. With thick items such as rolls and biscuits, a center section will have to be removed; save it for bread crumbs, feed it to the birds, or just nibble on it while waiting for your sandwich to completely cook.
Meats, cheeses, condiments and vegetables can be added according to your taste and desire. The meat items must be precooked; cheese slices might have to be folded, or buy the rectangular brand that you can cut into square slices. Condiments and vegetables can be added in the bottom section with the cheese or meat, or if using just a little, with the egg. You can use a whole egg, egg whites only, or egg substitute; remember, you're making your breakfast sandwich your way. Do not overload the cooking rings, pressing down the plates or lid will cause leakage and/or not having the food cook evenly.
Lets make a sandwich, so you can see how simple this little machine is...
As soon as you plug in the device (cooking plates are inside the unit and the lid is down), the red light will come on; it takes about five minutes to warm up and in that time you can get your ingredients all together.
Once the unit is ready to go, the green light will come on; carefully open up the lid and the first section of cooking plates.
Place your bottom layer of bread inside, the side you want toasted facing downward.
Place your cheese on top of the bread, then your meat or veggies; if using a bagel thin, place the meat first, then the cheese, or the cheese will ooze out of the bagel's opening once it melts. Or you can plug the opening up with the part you needed to trim off, so the bagel thin would fit.
Put down the next section of the cooking plates, this is where your egg or egg product will go; if using a whole egg, puncture a hole in the yolk to allow it to cook evenly.
Add any condiments, it's a half teaspoon of ketchup for me, but you can spice it up with salsa or green chili. Then put on your top layer of bread, the side you want toasted facing upward.
Close the lid, do NOT press down and wait for five minutes; at higher altitudes, add one more minute to your cooking time. Now pour yourself another hot cup of coffee or tea, maybe a tall glass of juice and relax; make sure though that you're keeping track of the time.
Once done, carefully lift up the lid; slide the disk out of the egg section; you'll see the bread drop down a little, but use a spatula to press it down slightly.
As you lift up the bottom cooking ring, keep pressing the sandwich through to the bottom. Use the spatula to slide it onto a plate or napkin.
There you are, a piping hot sandwich (wait about a minute before biting into it, it's that hot!) and the whole process took less than 15 minutes. It probably took me a lot longer to write this post up, and maybe just as long for you to read it.
Now the only concern I have about the Hamilton Beach Breakfast Sandwich Maker is the plastic molded sections; will they continue to hold up to the high heat this device generates? I have been using it for two weeks now, making one to two sandwiches daily depending on if hubby and I both want one. So far, so good; but only time and continued usage will give me the answer.
Until then, if you enjoy delicious, hot and quickly made breakfast sandwiches...buy this!!!