Our Big Green Egg

Big Green Egg

For our 11th wedding anniversary my dear, sweet wife surprised me with the outdoor cooker I'd been wanting for years - a large Big Green Egg!

Have I got it good or what?

To call the BGE a grill would be an injustice. It's a ceramic cooker made in the Asian kamado style. It's about 200 pounds and will heat up to over a thousand degrees for grilling steaks, or it can be dialed down to smoke foods low and slow, or the vents can be adjusted to hold a specified temperature for baking. Very slick! Never thought I'd earn enough "good husband points" to get one of these.

I've gone through a series of Weber grills, so I'm no slouch at cooking over live fire, but in the short time we've had the BGE we've cooked more kinds of food than we ever did before and all of it has tasted great. How's that for a recommendation?

Below are some pics of us putting it the BGE through its paces, some upgrades and toys we've added, and some BGE-related sites that we've found useful. For pics and recipes for some of our cooks on the Egg, see Dave's Food & Fire blog.

Big Green Egg

The egg is like a kiln or a brick oven - just a big ceramic container that can get really hot. Here's the interior of our egg after a cleaning.
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The firebox holds the charcoal and lets the air circulate. This goes in first.
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Here's the firebox in place. The cutout in front lines up with the bottom vent.
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Next the spacer goes in - this helps raise the food above the coals and adds to the thermal mass of the cooker.
Big Green EggThe grate at the bottom lets the ashes fall though and keeps the hot coals together.

Vents on the top and bottom control how much air flows through the fire and how hot the egg gets. With the vents wide open it can easily get over 1000°F.
Big Green EggLoaded with lump charcoal and ready to go.

At this point we can just put the grate on for direct cooking, or use a diffuser to smoke or bake with indirect heat.
Big Green EggStarting the coals - we use 100% hard wood lump charcoal to generate lots of consistent heat and create a nice flavor.

The Steve Raichlen chimney starter gets things going in about 15 minutes using just a couple of sheets of newspaper.
Big Green Egg10 minutes after the coals were lit and the BGE is already over 700 degrees! Try that with a kettle grill.
Big Green EggWe stared with a pair of really nice sirloins. Not understanding the grill's full potential, we only cooked them at about 500°F.

Big Green Egg15 minutes later they were done nice and medium rare. Notice how little the meat has shrunken. The ceramic cooker seals the juices in the food.

We've since discovered that you can get a much better steak by starting at at least 700°F.

Big Green Egg

Next we baked a pizza. We made the dough in our bread machine and assembled everything on a baking stone before putting it in the pre-heated BGE.
Big Green EggYou can also use indirect heat to bake like a brick oven.

This was cooked at 450°F for about 20 minutes. The cheese was brown and the crust was crisp.
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Gelina is also excited about the cooker since she wants to do more baking. Since we had the BGE up to temp, we went ahead and did a flat bread as well.
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Here's a better shot of the diffuser they call the plate setter. It's like a little three-legged stool - you put food on top of the support and it keeps it up away from the coals and shields it from direct heat. Very tasty!
Big Green EggEgg in snow - northern winters have not stopped us from grilling pretty much year-round.

The BGE heats up quickly and holds the temp really well.
Big Green Egg

It was 19°F outside, but the Egg cooked these ribs at 225°F for 5 hours!

Upgrades and Toys

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New table! We bought a custom-built table to give us more room. The Egg fits in it perfectly. We used a 21-inch kiln shelf and the BGE ceramic feet to protect the wood.
Big Green EggSometimes low-tech is best - here's our rain cap made from an old coffee can.

In a nasty downpour this keeps the water out and the temps stable.

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The extended grate lets us do almost twice as much food. Here it is with a whole salmon filet on the bottom, and a butt and a brisket on the top.
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A gentleman on the Egghead forum got tired of the standard grate getting rusty and commissioned this sweet stainless steel version. It works great. Thanks Tom!
Big Green EggThe mighty MAP torch. We recently bought this to replace the chimney starter we'd been using. Less mess, more heat.

This is a higher-temp relative of a propane torch, and it allows us to start the grill in a matter of minutes.
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Fire good. 30-45 seconds and the lump charcoal is lit. About-a-beer (10 minutes or so) later, the BGE is up to temp.
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The Maverick ET-73 Redi-Chek® Wireless Remote Smoker Thermometer is perfect for barbecuing. It has two sensors that monitor the temperature of both the meat and the smoking chamber and transmits them to a portable receiver. Instead of having to go out to check on the cooker all the time, we can just check the display on the receiver.
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The Woo2 from EggAccessories is a stainless extender that raises the cooking grid up about 4 inches so it’s almost level with the bottom edge of the cooker. This makes handling food a lot easier and gives us much better temperature control.

BGE Links

Here are some sites that we've found helpful in enjoying our Egg:

  The Naked Whiz - all things relating to ceramic cooks, including excellent lump charcoal reviews
  Egghead Forum - the BGE users' forum with friendly folks and good advice
  Big Green Egg - the Big Green Egg mother ship
  Ugly Brothers BBQ - "inner peace through the artistic and scientific practice of slow smoked pig meat"
  TRex - incredible steaks!
  WessB's - great pics or BGE cooks and downloadable recipe files
  Dizzy Pig BBQ Company - very tasty rubs
  Thirdeye's Playing With Fire and Smoke - the name says it all
  Get Your Grill On - great variety of live fire recipes
  The Meatwave - a summer BBQ series and blog
  Meathenge - Dr. Biggles' mad meat lab