For an outdoor gas grill, which is the better cooking grid (grate) material, stainless steel, cast iron, or porcelain-coated cast iron?
We grill a lot of chicken, fish, and veggies but very little red meat. I will be buying a new gas grill and need the benefit of the hive mind's grilling expertise. I've read this excellent article
on the subject, and the author seems to really like his cooking grates to be cast iron, and he cites some good reasons: better heat retention/distribution, searing-ability, etc. -- mmmmm, makes my mouth water just reading about it. However, based on 44 years of self-knowledge, I'm not convinced I have the dedication to maintain cast iron to the degree that it needs to be maintained. It doesn't look hard, but I know me, and I'm lazy.
Stainless steel, on the other hand -- now, that's a metal I can work with! Easy to clean, no seasoning to maintain, and typically not susceptible to rust until the last half of its life cycle. The downsides are that it doesn't retain heat as well (so less searing ability), and it's expensive...but not prohibitively so. This is the choice I'm leaning towards.
Porcelain-coated cast iron, of course, is the other common grate material, and also worth considering. It's benefits are that it doesn't need the level of maintenance that naked cast iron does, but this comes with the cost of diminished searing-ability and poorer heat retention. Also, the porcelain will eventually chip, which will lead to rusting, etc. I can't cite a good reason, but I don't find this to be a particularly exciting option, and it's currently my third choice.
BTW, I hope I'm not making too much out of this. I'm not a foodie per se, but I've gotten pretty good at grilling the food we like to eat, and I enjoy it. I'll be upgrading our grill for the first time in 10 years, and I don't expect to be replacing it for another 10, so I plan on getting a good one. Since the grate is the only part that actually touches the food, this seems like an important detail.