Sear Kit is a set of 3 interlockings, hard-anodized aluminum plates that can sit on top of the grill grates or replace your standard grill grates on a pellet grill. Recteq isn’t the original manufacturer of the Sear Kit; it’s–at best–a reseller.
GrillGrate produces it for several pellet grills from different manufacturers, including recteq, and markets it as the GrillGrate Sear Station.
Both recteq and GrillGrate tout the accessory as capable of getting 100-200+ degrees hotter than what your grill is set. And, most of the time, the advertisements are extremely compelling, like this.
Yet, the Sear Kit/GrillGrates need a careful review to check whether they’re legitimate or marketing gimmicks/outright lies. We begin with the plates’ structure to understand their function.
What do the “Sear Kit Grates Look Like?
The individual Sear Kit plates have two surfaces: one with raised rails and deep valleys–that’s how the manufacturer describes the bumps and the grooves–and another flat surface. There are symmetrical, alternating arrays of holes between the rails–inside the valleys to allow airflow.
The sear grates are reversible: meaning you can cook on both sides. Recteq claims that you can churn out restaurant-quality, diamond-pattern steaks with the grates turned upright and/or achieve a beautiful sear on your smash burgers by flipping the plates upside down.
How does the Sear Kit Work?
Sear Kit consists of three hard-anodized aluminum plates. Aluminum is two to three times a better thermal conductor than steel. When it comes to thermal conductance, stainless steel–which recteq grill grates are made of–performs even worse than steel.
Stainless steel shows a very high thermal inertia among metals: meaning it takes more time to heat up. It also implies that once heated, stainless steel loses heat very slowly. As steel and stainless steel are poor heat conductors, they’re suitable for high-temperature environments, e.g., airplane engines.
On the other hand, aluminum is an excellent conductor of heat; because of this, it finds its use in heat exchangers, heat sinks, and cookware. If you’re not reading this article on an ARM-processor-based device (smartphones and Apple’s latest Desktops), it’s safe to assume that your device has an aluminum heat sink.
Aluminum has very low thermal inertia among metals–that is, it’s quick to absorb and lose heat.
Sear Kit grates, being aluminum, are quick to heat up compared to the standard grill grates on your pellet smoker and are quite capable of producing beautiful sear marks by initializing the Maillard reaction. So far, so good.
How does the Sear Kit Create Sear Marks on the Food?
Even though sear kit/sear grates don’t exceed the grill’s internal temperature, the design does wonder.
On the grill grates, your steaks or burgers are exposed to heat from the heat source, and the gates’ hot groves sear their surface. Thus, food gets the same heat from the grate gap and the groves.
With Recteq sear kit, here is the twist:
Unlike regular grill grates, these grates have raised grooves, and the aluminum surface with holes covers the gap between them.
What does it mean?
The raised groves have higher temperatures, while the gap distributes conduction heat at a lower temperature. This way, the steaks or burgers on these grates get higher heat by groves, which results in a sear, while the conduction heat between these groves keeps cooking the meat without searing it.
You successfully sear your steaks, burgers, veggies, and hot dogs without overcooking them.
What can’t the Rec Tec Sear Kit do? The Truth!
There’s no question that the Sear Kit grates get significantly hotter than your standard recteq grates, which are high-quality stainless steel. They also get hot quickly compared to stainless steel grates.
However, they can’t get hotter than what your smoker is set to, i.e., the ambient temperature of your grill. Also, given enough time, soon, the system will be in equilibrium with little or no temperature difference between the Sear Kit and the standard grill grates. This is what the second law of thermodynamics tells us, and the Sear Kit is not above physical laws.
Recteq and the “recteq mafia” tells us that the Sear Kit can get 100-200+ degrees hotter than what your recteq is set to. Assuming that they’re referring to the ambient or internal temperature of the grill, I can’t help but bang my head against the wall.
They’re telling, nay, selling you a lie.
Please don’t believe them.
How does an object placed over a heat source get hotter than the source itself?
This is why some people refer to the GrillGrates as the “Grill Marks Grates.”
GrillGrate says that the accessory prevents flare-ups. Yes–but only on a gas grill. A pellet smoker, more often than not, uses indirect heating to cook food over low & slow. There’s a drip tray between the firepot and the cooking grates, leaving no chance of flare-ups.
But I’m not implying that the Sear Kit is totally worthless. Here are many things the Sear Kit can do well.
What Else Can the Sear Kit Actually Do?
One of the biggest advantages of the Sear Kit is that it doesn’t let thin food fall from the grates. It has two surfaces–one ridged and another flat–ideally accommodating everything from smash burger patties to steaks.
Also, since the aluminum plates’ temperature is close to or exactly matches the grill’s internal temperature, your food cooks and smokes to perfection. It’s beyond doubt that handling various kinds of food on the Sear Kit is much easier than on the standard grill grates.
When it comes to melting fat and vaporizing meat juices, the Sear Kit is comparable, even superior, to Weber’s flavorizer bars, infusing the food with a rich taste.
The holes in the Sear Kit grates allow some convection heat–albeit negligible in a pellet smoker–to cook your food directly by allowing airflow.
Sear Kit also allows you to experiment with how you cook & smoke on a pellet smoker. For example, you can sprinkle some wood pellets in the valleys to smoke more.
Last but not least, Sear Kit produces beautiful grill marks comparable to what you achieve on a gas grill.
How much does the Rec Tec Sear Kit Cost you?
Recteq sells the Sear Kit for $116, as opposed to GrillGrate, which sells it for $132. Both give free deliveries in the USA. If you’re bent on buying one, I suggest you buy it from recteq–for the obvious reason.
Amazon allows you to pick from various sizes, ranging from $70 to $137 in price.
Is the Sear Kit worth it?
Sear Kit is a value-for-money product if you know what it can do. You’ll be disappointed if you’re taken in by the recteq mafia and think that the Sear Kit can turn your pellet smoker into a pellet grill. In this case, I’d beg you not to buy it.
Smoking is done best low & slow, and this is what a pellet smoker is designed for. A set of aluminum cooking grates won’t increase the heat output of your smoker.
Sear Kit allows you to handle your food better–you’ll be able to cook & smoke various items that don’t fit on your standard grates. If you’re that experimental, the Sear Kit is a life-saver.
Overall it’s a legitimate, excellent value-for-money product.
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