The trick is to smoke the meat and not make the meat smoke
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Served up on a Silver Platter

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This blog is about an interesting piece of gear I picked up last summer at Williams-Sonoma. It is called a Grill Tray and I am only just now getting around to using it. But in three uses it has proven to be interesting. I must confess the original big attraction was the companion recipe for grilled nachos that made use of the tray. Now that I have used it a couple times I am finding it is not a one-trick-pony and will have many more uses than I originally thought.

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The tray is an aluminum which looks like pewter & as a result can double as a serving platter.

The tray itself is 16 1/2” x 16 1/2” (42 x 42 cm) and is a very shallow bowl shape in profile. The tray is made from some “magical” aluminum alloy that looks like pewter. It was said to retain heat very well and can be used on the grill at temperatures up to 1,000 degrees (540 C). It is also able to keep food chilled if you put it in the refrigerator or freezer. I am thinking this might be good for bringing items out to the grill on a hot day, where those items aren’t going on the grill right away. Based on it’s heat retention, I am guessing it will do equally well with the cold. It is not cheap at $49.00, but it does it’s job very well and should last a lifetime.

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The nachos were cooked directly on the grill tray. At first the burners under the grill tray were on low & the flanking outside burners were on medium. About midway through the burners under the grill tray were turned off & the nachos finished using the medium indirect heat of the outer burners.

As mentioned the thing that originally put me over the top in terms of shelling out the money was the GRILLED NACHOS recipe that used this platter. The reviews posted on the Williams-Sonoma web site raved about it. I had read some of the user comments on line and people were raving about the recipe. You basically assemble 5 tiers of chips and toppings in a pyramid built on the platter. It starts out being direct grilled for the first part and then you switch the burners off under the platter. They have you put the middle burner on low and the two outer burners to the left in the right of the tray on medium. In my case with a 6 burner unit I had burners 1,2,5 & 6 on medium to start and burners 3&4 under the platter were on low. After about 4 minutes I turned the burners off under the the nachos. After about 9 minutes the nachos chips were turning brown & the cheese had melted. BTW any unmelted cheese you see in the pictures was a topping put on just before serving. After 9 minutes in the grill the tray was scorchingly hot. I put a tile trivet down to protect our cherry Dining Room table. I had to use two pairs of gloves to hold the tray and even then it was starting to get toasty just before I put the tray down. The amazing thing is that 15 minutes or so later when we started to clean up, the tray was still way too hot to touch. So it certainly does retain the heat well. Cleanup was relatively easy. There was some cheese that looked quite seared on, but it came off pretty easily with some soapy hot water and a sponge with a soft but abrasive plastic side. The same type of sponge you’d be safe using on non-stick cooking surfaces.

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The versatility of my 6 burner grill is illustrated here. The grill tray was heating over an open grill grate at low heat. The drop in griddle replaced the center grate and is being heated to medium low. The “steaks” are direct grilling on the right on an open grill grate using medium high heat.

The other meal I have used it for twice now is GRILLED SALISBURY STEAKS. This recipe calls for you to serve the steaks on a heated serving platter and top them with their sauce. This time around I knew how hot the platter could get and I wanted it hot, but not like a branding iron. The “Steaks were grilled for 3 minutes a side over an open grill grate and the floured and grilled over my grill’s drop-in flat top griddle attachment for an additional 2 minutes per side. Once again the extra space and burner control of a 6 burner grill came in handy. I lit burners 1 & 2 and set them to low and placed the grill tray over them while I was grilling the burger over the open grate. I’d placed the drop in cast iron flat top griddle over burners 3 & 4 and they were set to medium-low. Burners 5 & 6, where the burgers were to grill over the open grate, were set to slightly above medium. Just before the burgers finished their 6 minutes on the open grate, I pulled the grill tray off of the low heat burners. I set it on the side table of my grill, on a raised metal cooling rack. This was to prevent damage to the paint on the metal side table. The tray sat for about 6 more minutes while I floured the “steaks” on the other side table and returned them to the griddle for 4 minutes. The tray was quite hot coming off the grill and had cooled a bit, but not too much, sitting out in the 90 degree outside air. When the burgers were done I put them on the tray which was at a great temp - hot enough to keep them warm, but not really hot enough to keep cooking them further. Bringing the tray inside, I didn’t chance it and used two sets of gloves although this time one might have sufficed. I sauced the “steaks” and spent about 2 minutes taking pictures and the steaks were still nice and hot when it was time to eat. The first time I made these I had seconds. The “steak” that had now been off the grill for 10 minutes was still nice and warm.

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The Grilled Salisbury Steak recipe called for the “steaks” to be placed on a heated serving tray and topped with the Belmont Sauce. This grill tray fit the bill nicely as it is good enough looking to double as a serving platter..

So thus far I am more than pleased with how this tray works. The fact it has a long heat ( & cold) retention is causing me to think about some other potential uses for it going forward. As I mentioned, it is a bit pricey. But it is built for the long haul and I think I am going to end up using it far more than I expected. I just need to remember to protect whatever surface I land it on, protect my own digits with multiple gloves or pot holders when transporting it and to warn my guests not to touch it. Oh and did I mention it makes great nachos?
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SOME RELATED LINKS :
Here are links for the Picture Entries for the two meals was discussed here, plus an external link for the Grill Tray on the Williams-Sonoma web site..

  GRILLED NACHOS Appetizer Picture Entry
  GRILLED SALISBURY STEAKS Beef Picture Entry
WILLIAMS-SONOMA GRILL TRAY
WILLIAMS-SONOMA GRILLED NACHOS RECIPE


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