Improve Your Grilling with Raised Rail Grill Grates
By Steven Raichlen
I’ve often cruised the aisles of the annual Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association trade show, marveling at the ingenuity of products displayed there. As a product developer myself for my eponymous Best of Barbecue line, I appreciate how difficult it is to bring a game-changer to the marketplace.
But entrepreneur Brad Barrett has done just that with GrillGrate, a unique “raised rail” grill grate system of interlocking panels that can improve the functionality of nearly any grill or smoker—charcoal, gas, pellet, kamado-style, etc.
So far, I have used GrillGrates on the set of Project Smoke and at Barbecue University™, as well as for grill sessions at home. And I am “sear-iously” impressed. Why?
GrillGrates effectively block pesky flare-ups, the bane of grillers everywhere. The perforated bottom is patterned after a design developed in the aerospace industry for flame control around fuel tanks. But it still allows smoke to circulate around the food.
They collect and amplify the grill’s heat while converting it to conduction (contact) convection (hot air), and infrared (radiant). In practical terms, this means you can achieve significant increases in temperature at the grill grate—anywhere from 100 to 300 degrees. (Take notice, pellet grillers: GrillGrates give you searing capability.)
Because they’re made of hard anodized aluminum, they conduct heat much more efficiently than stainless steel or cast iron, reducing hot and cold spots for both gas and charcoal or wood-burning grills.
The “valleys” between the rails (the rails themselves are shaped like train tracks) collect juices and drippings where they are vaporized and redirected toward the food, a process Barrett calls Drip-ology™. As Nathan Myhrvold, the author of Modernist Cuisine, notes, “The real secret to the unique flavor of grilled food is not the fuel, but the drippings. As these complex chemical solutions combust, they coat the food with a panopoly of aromatic and delicious compounds.” (I visited Dr. Myhrvold in his mind-blowing Seattle lab. Read about it here.)
You’ll get tack-sharp, steakhouse-caliber grill marks. And you know how I prize those.
Barrett’s entry into the grilling business about 10 years ago was a classic case of opportunity meets necessity.
“I was Mr. Bonfire Chicken,” he says. “I was the guy who cut into his steaks to make sure they were done…or overdone!”
While developing industrial products for a privately held company, Barrett fortuitously encountered a mothballed patented design and recognized its potential for barbecuers like himself.
“I became obsessed with ‘protected raised rail grilling,’ and as a guy who burned a lot of chicken, I was blown away by the difference I was seeing and tasting.”
For my money, GrillGrates perform as advertised, producing sizzling candied bacon, perfectly cooked—read “not charred”—chicken leg quarters, brats, steaks, Korean-style short ribs, and an array of vegetables. They are best suited for direct grilling. Here are recipes I suggest you try:
The company, headquartered in Cartersville, Georgia, also sells a special pronged spatula that makes it easy to flip food; the prongs slip between the rails. Individual panels are available to customize fits, whether you own a round or rectangular grill or smoker.