Most home cooks will agree that cast iron skillets and cookware have greatly complemented the backyard grilling station. Whether your cast iron cookware is a garage sale find, Grandma's hand-me-down, or something you picked up at a specialty retail store, this cookware might seem like the best solution for pan-searing a steak on the grill or cooking a cauldron of kielbasa and kraut over an open flame. But is cast iron cookware the best thing you can find for outdoor cooking?
It may be time to retire Grandma's trusty old cast iron skillet and consider a more modern alternative. But before we turn family heirlooms into paperweights, let's take a closer look at cast iron and see if we can find something a bit more contemporary for outdoor cooking.
GrillGrates are interlocking panels made from hard-anodized aluminum that sit on top of your grill's cook surface. The panels are flat on one side and have raised rails on the other.
Designed with thermodynamics in mind, GrillGrates have superior heat conductivity and amplify the grill temperature while applying even heat to your food. They are particularly effective for smoothing grill temperatures, evening out the grill's hotter and cooler spots. This ensures that your food cooks evenly and quickly. Furthermore, aluminum is lightweight and easy to handle, making it a convenient choice for cooking grids that can be easily adjusted or removed.
When food sits on GrillGrates’ raised rails, the intensified heat produces steakhouse-quality grill marks. This adds flavor and texture to your food, making the dish more delicious. Food cooked on the rail side also receives the additional benefit of rendering and vaporizing fats and juices. This concentrates the food flavors and intensifies the taste.
Flipped over, GrillGrates cook just as well on the flat side and are great for burgers, fish, and veggies.
Whether you cook with the flat side up or the rails side up, an additional benefit of GrillGrates is that loose items that can typically fall through a grill’s grates, like asparagus, onion rings, and bay scallops, will no longer be sacrificed to the flame gods.
Another drawback of cast iron is its weight.
These heavy skillets make them challenging to handle on the grill, especially when piping hot. GrillGrates, conversely, are made from a lightweight, durable material.
Cast Iron is more fragile than you would think.
One common cause of cast iron breakage is thermal shock.
This occurs when the material is exposed to extreme heat and rapid cooling. For example, placing a hot cast iron pan in cold water can cause it to crack due to rapid contraction.
Another factor contributing to cast iron's brittleness is its high carbon content. While carbon gives cast iron strength and durability, it also makes it susceptible to cracking.
Cast Iron routine maintenance.
Regular maintenance is crucial in keeping your cast iron cooking products in top condition. This includes cleaning them after each use, drying them thoroughly, and applying a layer of protective oil to prevent rust. Additionally, storing your cookware in a dry environment is advisable to avoid moisture damage.
Cast iron is prone to cracking and chipping if not correctly handled. The metal is quite brittle, and dropping or banging a cast iron skillet on a hard surface can cause irreparable damage, rendering it unusable.
GrillGrates, on the other hand, are self-seasoning. Ready to cook after a quick rinse and pat dry, you can achieve a genuinely non-stick surface on GrillGrates by rubbing the cut side of a raw onion on both sides and allowing the juices to burn away. After a few sessions, you'll notice meats, fish, and veggies release much easier than they would from other surfaces.
GrillGrates are also versatile. They can be used on various grills, including gas, charcoal, Kamado, pellet, and more. So, whether you're grilling at home or taking your cooking skills on the road to a cabin or vacation rental, GrillGrates are convenient to pack and bring along.
While cast iron cookware has merits, it has its fair share of problems. Compared to cast iron’s heavyweight and uneven heat distribution, plus the special care and attention it requires, the hard-anodized aluminum used in GrillGrates is a superior choice for outdoor cooking.