Setup the BGE for direct cooking

I have a good friend who recently received a Big Green Egg as a Christmas gift. He’s without prep space at the moment as he and his wife have been remodeling their kitchen and I am sad for his Egg as it sits lonely on his patio, all white and pristine. I thought I’d toss him a bone on the burn in procedure for the Egg and realized that, while I had a blog post for indirect heat, I hadn’t done one for direct heat. Continue reading

Setup the BGE for indirect cooking

So now that the Egg is cleaned out, I’m ready to start getting ready for TurkeyPalooza 2012.

Being that my back patio is covered and there is 0% chance of rain. I can do this the night before too. If you recall, we started with a clean and empty Big Green Egg.

1. Insert the electric starter (if that’s what you’re using). Pour natural lump charcoal over the top. There are a bazillion different brands out there. I use the “official” stuff lately. Don’t be afraid to reach in there and move individual chunks of charcoal around. For indirect cooking, you want to build a stable, controlled fire.

2. (optional) Add a couple small chunks of wood for smoke. For the turkey, I’m going with Apple. For God’s sake, do not use mesquite for poultry or pork.

3. Add more natural lump charcoal. The idea is to get a full load of coal. At least to cover the holes in the fire bowl. And, for long cooks, you can go as high as near the top of the fire ring if you have to.


For the actual cook:

4. Plug in the electric starter. Open the bottom and top vents all the way for maximum air flow. For a high temp cook, I’ll leave this in for 6 or 7 minutes. for a low temperature cook, I may only leave it in for 3 or 4 minutes.

5. Close the lid. Let the grill pre-heat. Do not leave the grill unattended. You’ll want to start adjusting the vents when you get within 25 – 50 degrees of your intended temperature. For the Turkey, I’m looking for a “dome temp” of 350F, which means the cooking surface should be a slightly cooler 325F. Pro Tip: Be willing to spend time getting your fire right. Your brisket, chicken and pork (and hopefully my turkey) are worth getting this right. If I’m doing a cut of meat that people consider to have a high degree of difficulty (read: brisket), it is not uncommon for me to spend 45 minutes to an hour before I consider my fire to be “right.” One of my friends convinced me this was OK the day before my first brisket and I am glad that he did.

6. Once you’ve preheated and your fire is stable, add the ceramic platesetter. For turkey (for basically anything except pizza), I’m using it inverted with the feet facing up. This will leave room for me to insert a roasting pan to catch drippings. Close the lid and allow the temperature to normalize again. You may need to adjust your vents to permit more air flow.

7. Add the meat. In the case of the turkey, add the turkey, breast side up in a V Rack. I also have a probe thermometer in the turkey breast so that I get an audible alarm when the breast meat reaches 165F.

8. Stick with the grill for another 20 to 30 minutes to be sure the temperature holds steady. And then walk away. Sometimes I check the dome temperature every couple of hours. Sometimes I watch football. Sometimes I just sleep. Whatever you do, keep the lid closed.

Cleaning out the Big Green Egg

So I mention my Egg a lot on the blog. And I take lots of pictures of it in action. But I don’t spend a whole lot of time doing BGE tech support. I, too, once did not own a Big Green Egg. So I didn’t understand what all the fuss was about. It’s very minimalist, but there’s more to it than a piece of polished green ceramic. The interior components make all the magic happen.

Lately, I had noticed I was having trouble with high temperatures lately, so I knew that there was some ash somewhere inside clogging up something and impacting air flow. Since you always have a full load of coals (fuel), controlling your air flow makes oxygen the limiting reactant for the fire. That’s why learning to adjust the vents properly is so key to success on the Big Green Egg. Ash is just part of cooking in a charcoal cooker and it gets in the holes of the charcoal grate and between the fire bowl and the ceramic walls of the Egg. Cleaning requires that you take parts out of the Egg, so this gives an opportunity to a) take care of business and b) show you how the Egg works.

First, I removed the cooking grid, the ceramic fire ring, the vented ceramic fire bowl and used the ash tool to scrape any leftover ash out from what would have been between the inner workings of the Egg and the ceramic walls. The ash tool is the only tool that is the right shape and length to do this. If you own an Egg, you should plan to get one of these. It’s the perfect size and shape to get into most of the hard to reach spots and scrape out leftover ashes. I also have a little cheapy dust pan with a brush so that I can get ashes to the trash.

With all the parts removed, here’s the Egg with all the interior components removed.


Next, I start to re-assemble.

1. Add the fire bowl. Note that it’s whiter than the walls of the Egg. That’s because this is where the burning, lava hot charcoal lives. High temperatures clean the ceramic. If you use your Egg for mostly grilling the entire inside will stay whiter looking. I do some high temp cooks and some low temp cooks. Mine is ugly and I love it.

2. Add the fire ring. This sits on top of the fire bowl and gives you some extra height.

3. Add the charcoal grate. This keeps the charcoal off of the bottom of the Egg and lets air flow freely through the fire bowl and cooking chamber.

4. Setting up the Egg for indirect cooking.

Firewire Grilling Skewers

Allow me to start by telling you that, by 2012, the technology in skewers should be top notch and beyond improvement. These Firewire Grilling Skewers represent that penultimate achievement. With that said, I’ll try and give these a fair review.

I’m going to make a handful of assumptions. At least one of these probably applies to you.
Assumptions:

1. You like to grill out and have a pretty good foundation regarding how to put grill marks on meat and vegetables.
2. You like kabobs.
3. You have have or have had a problem with one or more of the following:

a. burned yourself on old metal skewers
b. burned up cheap wooden skewers
c. freezer burned a kabob because the skewer broke through the freezer bag
d. can’t close your grill because your skewers are too long, etc.

If these describe you, please continue reading.

Pros:

1. It holds a LOT of food. A single skewer holds two full, marinated kabobs from Whole Foods with room to spare. I could probably cook 10 to 12 kabobs worth of food on a set of 4.
2. The tip of the skewer is rigid, but not sharp. Which means, you can use it to poke through the food, but it won’t poke through the freezer bag. No leaks. No freezer burn.

3. They’re flexible. So you’re not limited to having your grilled items in a straight line. In practice, this means lots more food over the same fire.
4. You can leave the ends outside of the grill. Leaving the ends cool enough to handle.

5. The parts of the wire inside the grill don’t burn up.
6. They’re dishwasher safe. C’mon, half the reason you’re cooking outside is because you don’t want to clean the kitchen.

Cons:

1. Amazon.com Prime Shipping took two days.
2. I didn’t find them sooner.

These are amazing. If you don’t own them, you should. =)