October 23, 2020
Get up the Spark learning curve
The Spark is unlike any grill you’ve cooked on before, so here are a few tips to help you get familiar with your new grill.
Grate temperature > Dome temperature
The Spark’s thermometer reports the temperature at the grates where you’re actually cooking the food, rather than in the top of the dome 6-12 inches above the grates, as most other grills do. Grate temperature allows for more precision.
Heat rises, but it also dissipates, so the dome temperatures are typically 25-50f cooler than the grate temperatures, especially when measured in an uninsulated grill with a thin, single-layer lid (a classic Weber, most gas grills) that loses heat faster.
If you're used to a dome thermometer reading at 450, know that it was probably warmer on the grates and you might want to set your Spark to 475-500 because we report the grate temperature.
Keep the lid open for 5-10 minutes during startup. When cooking, keep it closed for more efficiency and accurate temps.
Keeping the lid open for 5-10 minutes while it’s starting up helps with the ignition process.
After a few minutes, close the lid and cook as usual.
Don’t open the lid to peek at your food every 20 seconds. When cooking, keep the lid closed when possible. That’ll retain heat and maintain temperature more steadily, yielding more consistent results and better food.
Once you finish cooking, close the lid and turn off the grill. You don’t need to keep an eye on it as it slowly cools down.
Cast iron sears better, but needs proper technique and care.
Cast iron conducts heat better than steel, and the heavier weight of cast iron grates retains heat better too, so you’ll get a better sear on your food.
Prevent sticking: The added surface area of the flat grates means a better, larger sear, but also more risk for sticking so our grates are enamel-coated to help reduce sticking. But the right technique also reduces sticking, so...
. • Season your grates to give them a non-stick layer.
• Let meat come to room temperature before grilling. Really cold meat is more likely to stick. Burgers are the exception - you can keep those chilled so they hold together better.
• Lightly oil your food or grates before cooking.
• Grill salmon or chicken skin-side down first, then flip. Even with the skinless chicken breast, start with the side that would have been the skin side.
• Don't flip your food too fast. Give the food some time to sear and separate from the grates. Most sticking can be prevented by giving the food an extra minute or two before flipping.
Clean properly: Always scrape clean with a grilling brush or chain scrubber (our preference), ideally when the grates are a little warm but not hot. Sometimes, you’ll want to wipe the grates down with warm water diluted white or apple cider vinegar. Occasionally, re-season your grates.
The heat spreader gives even heat, but can be removed for extra-strong searing.
Fire is fire, so there’ll always be a little variance in how heat is distributed through the grill, but our heat spreader does a good job of giving you reliable, even heat across most of the grill.
If you’re cooking something like a steak and you want an intense sear, then you can remove the heat spreader before starting the grill to get more intense, direct heat right over the charcoal, and cooler temperatures along the sides of the grill. It’s definitely not required - steaks sear and cook very well with the heat spreader too - but it’s something you can play around with.
Like any grill, if you’re cooking something with a high oil or fat content, drippings can cause flare-ups. Grilling something like chicken wings, with their varying size and high fat content, you’ll want to rotate them around the grill as you notice some cook faster or slower than others.
You'll discover your preferred cooking temperatures, but here's a cheat sheet.
Big disclaimer - over time, you’ll hone in on your favorite temperatures and techniques for different recipes, so don’t listen to us or nitpick too much if you’ve already got your own tried and true methods.
But here are some rules of thumb as a starter: Cooking temperature tip sheet.
Questions? Anything we can help with? Give us a shout anytime.
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