More often than not I am as excited about cooking out before the game, as I am about the game itself. Occasionally I will go the extra mile and prepare a meal that is more than the usual dogs and burgers. However I have always been a little handcuffed as to just how far I could go, due to the usual limitations. Thankfully I had the opportunity to try a product that helps bridge that gap and really opens up a lot more possibilities for your tailgating meals.
The GrillGrate is a series of 13.75″ x 5.25″ interlocking anodized aluminum panels that create a new cooking surface for your grill. The interlocking design allows you to connect as many of the panels as you would like. The panels are designed in such a way to allow perfect searing but avoid burning of many foods such as lean meats, fruits, vegetables, fish, and even pasta. This is accomplished by using a raised rail design that focuses most of the grill’s heat through those rails. In addition to this, the rails are spaced in such a way that by using The GrateTool, you can go underneath your food and pick straight up rather than try and jam a spatula underneath. The bottom of the GrillGrate has spaced elliptical holes for excess liquid to fall through, but also reduces flareups. The areas between those holes allows the fats and juices to sizzle and steam. The steam naturally moves upward and contacts the food, restoring some of the flavor that has leaked out.
The size of the panels required me to position two of them horizontally on my Weber Q100. While this felt a little cumbersome at first, it was easy to adjust. While I was heating up the grill, I used a little cooking oil and wiped down the rails as I saw in one of the manufacturer videos. Once the grill and GrillGrate were hot, I decided to first cook a big coil of Italian sausage as I wanted to see how well flareups were managed. The GrillGrate passed this test with flying colors. There were excellent grill marks as well as zero issues with the food sticking, and I didn’t see a single flareup. I was pleasantly surprised to see my sausage’s juice and grease sizzling and steaming back up into my food. It made for a very tasty lunch.
For the next test I wanted to try some steaks. I was again greeted with a familiar searing sound and I knew that those coveted grill marks were a sure thing. Again absolutely no issues with sticking or flareups, and the sizzling juice effect was present throughout.
For my final test I wanted to do something to see how well those ultra delicate foods did. I sliced up a few bananas and put them on the GrillGrate. This time I used the GrateTool to go underneath the food and pick straight up. Sure enough they came off without being destroyed and I was sold. A little sticking from the bananas but it wasn’t enough to change my opinion of the product. On a side note they made for one heck of a banana split. To clean up I gave The GrillGrate a decent brushing and cleaned out the areas between the rails by flipping the GrateTool over and scraping out any gunk. It was a quick and easy process to say the least.
I would recommend the GrillGrate to anyone who wants to branch out in their tailgating fare. As I previously mentioned, the size of the product may be a limitation for you. However beyond that I do not see any apparent downside. The flareup reductions mean that you can use those marinades and fattier meats with confidence. The GrateTool and raised rails would surely allow you to cook those ultra delicate foods without tearing them up while trying to flip them. Plus the bottom would prevent most if not all fall through events that happen with thinner items.
Keep in mind that this isn’t a permanent modification so if you are keeping it simple, with food that you know you won’t have difficulty with, you can leave the GrillGrate at home. You can also transfer it over to your backyard grill if you so desired. Because the panels do interlock you could make a very large surface if you wished. The company also has some custom sizes for sale such as grates for the the LARGE Big Green Egg, XL Big Green Egg and 22″ Weber kettles. In addition to those, 20″ x 5.25″ panels can also be purchased if you are interested.
Should you decide they aren’t for you, they offer a 30 day, no questions asked warranty. You can’t argue with that. For all the advantages with no obvious disadvantages, the GrillGrate gets my stamp of approval. To get a grill grate of your own, click on any of the links within this post.
- Tailgating Gear in Review: September 2010 Edition
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