Published September 1, 2006.
Does grate style matter?
One of our favorite gas grills (the Weber Genesis Silver) can now be equipped with various grates: stainless steel (the original), enameled steel, and enameled cast iron. Does grate style matter? Yes—as a steak-searing test (three minutes per side on a 500-degree grill) quickly proved. The difference came down to heat retention. When cool food hits the grill, the grate's temperature starts to drop; the key is how long it stays above 300 degrees (the minimum temperature for browning). The stainless and enameled stainless grates (each about 2 pounds) stayed above 300 degrees for just two minutes, which gave us great marks on one side of the steak but faint ones on the other. The heavy cast-iron grate (7 1/2 pounds) stayed above 300 degrees for five minutes, long enough for great marks on both sides. The cast iron took 21 minutes to hit 500 degrees (the stainless grates took 15), but we'd rather wait a few minutes than lose out on the flavorful char.
If you're in the market for a grill, purchase our favorite with the cast-iron-grate option (no extra cost). If you already have a Weber, it's an upgrade we recommend.