Cast Iron Grids – Are they worth their weight in…err…Iron?
So you landed the big account at work, finally got the promotion you’ve been waiting on, or just need a night out on the town to let off some steam. You and your significant other finally make it to that in-town steak joint that your foodie friends have been raving about for months. You order the petite filet and to no one’s surprise… your medium-rare steak is oh-so-tender and juicy. The outside has crisp, well defined grill marks…the inside has a ring of grey bordering that bright pink steak you crave. As you take your first bite… you have immediate grill envy. But relax…these guys are professionals after all, right?
Well what if I told you there’s an upgrade to your Egg/Kamado grill set-up that could give you the extra char-grilled flavor you crave? If I told you that $50 is all it takes to get that perfect steak…would you be willing to splurge on it?
Well here you go:
Ease of Use: 10/10
Well… it’s a grid. You heat it up, and you put meat on it. It’s pretty straight forward. For the best results, rub and season the grate with a cooking oil prior to placement on the grill (I recommend olive oil). Then let the grid warm up to match the internal temperature of the grill. If you are grilling steaks, try to heat the grate up to 600 degrees… if you’re doing chicken or burgers, 350-400 should suffice. Simply put, the hotter the cast iron grate is, the deeper and more charred your grill marks will be. Once the grate is nice and hot, simply put your meat on and cook.
This is one of the few tools that can actually make your grilling experience easier. Because Cast Iron holds its temperature longer, the grate will remain hotter longer in the rare case that your fire dies. I actually had this happen with cheeseburgers recently, and my cooking time was virtually unaffected.
NOTE: This grate is HEAVY. I actually dropped it on my foot during the review, and it hurt to walk for 3-4 days. If you are going to use this grate, I would HIGHLY recommend purchasing the heavy-duty grate grabber by Big Green Egg.
You can find this tool for around $25 at Ace Hardware or on several on-line retailers.
Care and Maintenance: 4/10
This is definitely the biggest knock on anything cast iron. For those of you who are not familiar with cast iron products, you must continuously season cast iron to keep the cooking surface clean and rust free. You also cannot use a dishwasher or soak the grate in soapy water.
For care and maintenance, you will want to rinse and dry the grate for initial use. Before placing the grate on your egg, take a sponge, dish towel, or paper towel and rub olive oil on the front and back of the grate.
After each use, simply wipe the grate down with a wet, soapy sponge…rinse in water… dry…and store in a dry place. When you’re ready to use the grate again… re-season the grate with olive oil before use.
Flavor Influence: 8/10
There are MANY reasons to introduce the flavor of proper grill marks. First and foremost, the raised grooves of the grill grate allow for your meat to have the right balance of charred meat without overpowering the flavor of your entree. Charring does not only add complexities to your meat’s flavor… but can really add a pop of flavor when applied to your dry rubs, herbs, and seasonings on the outside of your meat.
Additionally, the heat of the grate can ensure that the exterior of your meat cooks faster. By doing so, your meat will essentially create barrier that prevents the juices from the inside of your meat from spilling out. This is how restaurants get the exterior fully cooked without jeopardizing the juiciness and pink center of those premium steaks.
Sorry… I know it sounds lame… but there is something that is SO much more appetizing about clean, dark grill marks. If you serve guests with any meat pulled off this grate, they will certainly be impressed.
This is a hard category to rate on this product. From my personal experience with it, I feel that $50 is a steal…given the benefits you’ll reap from it. However, I recognize that there is nothing wrong with the metal/porcelain grill grate that comes standard with the Big Green Egg. For that reason, I recognize that I cannot rate this a 10 out of 10 as it is more of a nice-to-have product… than a have-to-have.
Overall Score: 74
Basically, I think that every grill-master should have a cast iron grate in their arsenal. However, I recognize that not everyone will want to spend $50 on something that replaces their current grate. If there is one knock on this product, it’s the overall care and maintenance. However, this is more of a burden to bare on ALL cast iron products…so don’t hold it against this particular grate. 37/50
For additional information on the Big Green Egg Cast Iron Cooking Grid, visit the Big Green Egg website here: http://www.biggreenegg.com/eggcessories/cooking-grids-racks-extenders-pans/cast-iron-cooking-grids/Tweet