Home-Chefs and backyard grillers are always on the lookout for the best new grilling accessories and gadgets to put themselves and their food ahead. For good reason too - there is an incredible assortment of tools for the grill out there that help pack a bit more flavor and efficiency into your cooking machine.
Today we're looking at one of the most important, and sometimes most overlooked, accessories out there – the grill grate.
The types of grates and grate extensions available are extensive, but first, it is important to know about the myth of grill marks. Amazing ribs has a great article on that here, and the gist is this:
The truth is that grill marks mean much of the meat’s potential has been lost. Tan meat has less flavor than brown meat. So the goal should be an even dark brown all across the surface… Grill marks mean that only about 1/3 of the surface has been altered by the magical Maillard reaction, the process by which dull meat is transformed into brown, intense flavor-ridden crust.
So, what does this mean? To start, it essentially disproves the theory that you should flip your meat only once to ensure your meat gets crusty grill marks, and that instead you should use cooking surfaces that allow you to easily maneuver your meat, cooking it evenly.
This also means that the type of grill-grate you use is very important. As with anything, if you're going to buy a replacement or supplementary grate for your grill, make sure you know what you want to get out of it. Grilljunkieguy.com wrote a great review of grill grates here, in which they outlined the following types of grates:
- The real advantage to stainless steel is that it has a long life span and is easy to clean. Good quality and/or true stainless steel grates will never rust or corrode while cheap stainless eventually ceases to be truly “stainless”, and eventually will require replacement.
- Easy to clean and hard to crack the surface, when using enamel-coated porcelain it is recommended to use thin rods so they don’t block the radiant heat needed to brown the surfaces of foods.
Chrome or Nickel-Plated Wire
- Inexpensive and easily replaceable, these types of grates warp under extremely high heat. This isn’t much of a problem because they’re so cheap that replacing them is not a budget breaker
Cast Iron Grates
- Because cast iron grates are so heavy and efficient at holding and transmitting heat to meat, the grates can create marks at an intensity and quickness that causes uneven cooking.
- Common on large barbecue pits, tempered steel grates are lightweight and often come in expanded metal diamond grids.
Teflon and Non-Stick Coatings
- These surfaces are typically found on electric “grills” and a few portable gas grills. As with non-stick pans, the surface is easily scratched, must be treated gingerly and the use of a metal spatula, tongs, fork, etc. is forbidden.
Hard-Anodized Cast Aluminum
- The highest recommended grill grate, this light-weight material is well suited for grilling as it epitomizes the infrared cooking method. This ensures even cooking and maximized flavor!