Upgrading the Ol' Grill
for hours on end, roasting peppers for bold salsas, and grilling
hundreds of steaks, chops, and burgers has taken its toll on the big
hunk of metal. So when I set out to grill some chicken the other day, I
wasn't all that surprised to find that, when I opened my grill top, the
metal flame guard over the propane burner had completely disintegrated.
Caked with the drippings of countless meals-to-be, the flame guard
burned and smoldered until just moving the grill slightly rendered the
metal sheet into shards of ate-up scrap.
At first I thought
about getting a new grill entirely. After all, there are far newer and
better grills out there now, stainless steel monsters with four
high-BTU burners and rotating rotisserie racks to boot. Plus, if one
piece of twisted metal had given up the ghost, surely the rusted
looking burner would follow suit. But I quickly decided against that,
and for good reason: With a couple bucks and a little bit of elbow
grease, I could resurrect this dying champ to keep on fighting the good
I went down to Home Depot in search of a suture to ease my grill's pain.
HD has a pretty broad selection of grill parts and accessories. They've
got burners to replace your dying ones, loads of lava rocks for even
heat distribution, and a variety of splash and flame guards to chose
from. If you've got one of those relatively cheap, cart-style grills,
like me and 35% of America's grill owners,
most of these parts are universal, which means you can upgrade your
cheap jobby to work like a charm for just a fraction of the cost of a
new, expensive grill.
If I was going to trick out the whole grill, I'd probably replace my steel grates with more heat-effient cast iron
ones. And I probably will in the future, but, hey, I've got to have
something to tell people to buy me for Christmas. Instead, I settled on
getting a Char-Broil Porcelain Heat Plate
which eliminates the need for heat-distributing lava rocks and guards
the burner as well. The dual use sounds great, right? But how will it
work in practice? To find out, I installed it and did a test run last
night.Check out the pics of the process below, as well as the payoff.
The install was extremely easy.
Here's the grill sans-plate.
The heat plate ready to go. All you have to do is install a couple screws for it to stand on, held in place by small bolts.
Here's the plate in the grill. It literally just sits inside.
Of course, I had to test it out. This London broil I had marinating for a day will do nicely.
This is hard to photograph. Trippy!
The heat output was better than ever. Check out the char.
Letting it rest. The poor bastard knows what's coming next.
-- John Linn
Get the Food & Drink Newsletter
Our weekly guide to Miami dining includes food news and reviews, as well as dining events and interviews with chefs and restaurant owners.