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First use summary: so far, so good (with caveats)
on July 8, 2014
As with most "As Seen on TV" stuff, I was skeptical (albeit grateful) when I received this as a gift from my wife and sons. But last night I tried the mats out for the first time. Hamburgers were my target meat for the evening.
As specified in the instructions, I washed the mats before their first use. I was also careful to use them on a grill that was running about 475 degrees, and then only after the grill was brought to temperature. (The mats are rated only for use at or under 500 degrees ... a detail I suspect some other reviewers failed to pay attention to.) Short version of the outcome: I had great success with the mats. My burgers were wonderful and well-cooked and took no more time to prepare than usual.
Here are some mental notes I made for next time may be helpful to others also.
* The mats are non-stick. I mean, NON-STICK. The coefficient of sliding friction on these bad boys surely approaches 0 under normal grilling conditions! (Other reviews that dispute this *must* have been doing something wrong.) This creates a small problem -- that of chasing your burgers around the mat with a spatula when trying to scoop them up. SOLUTION: Use a second tool (spoon, fork, etc.) to keep the meat still while you slip the spatula beneath it.
* The mats have no raised edges. While the ad brags about reduced flare-ups due to grease not dripping below the meat, that's only true to the degree that grease doesn't pool, run toward the mat's edge and then pour down in a steady stream of flame-feeding ickiness. On the plus side, the flare-ups I had were not under the meat, so the meat was fine. Still, flames above my cooking surface are generally unwelcome. SOLUTION: I don't really have one yet ... but I think I'll try curling the edges up on the mat next time.
* What?! I don't have to waste 10 more minutes' worth of fuel to clean my grill racks now?! EXCELLENT!