I still love cooking on my Big Green Egg. Sure, I cook on a large capacity, cabinet-style smoker when I need the capacity. But I’ve recently cooked on my Egg a little more than usual, and I’m reminded how much I like this rig.
Anyway, here are a few shots of the world’s best grill and smoker that I’ve captured over the years.
I’ve cooked on a large Big Green Egg for nearly 7 years. I’ve also had the opportunity to cook on an XL a few times at Grillfest when I’ve done the Big Green Egg demos for the local dealer. But until recently, I’d never cooked on one of the smaller Eggs.
Over Thanksgiving, we made our annual trip to Pittsburgh. My Brother-in-law recently scored a medium Egg off of Craigslist, so while we were visiting I had the chance fire it up for a side of ribs.
Here are my observations about cooking on the Medium vs. my Large.
I can lay 3 sides of baby back ribs flat across the cooking grate on my large. You certainly can’t do that on the medium.
I’m not sure you could cook overnight without refilling the charcoal. A full load of Royal Oak lump only burned for ~5 hours (I grilled pork tenderloing when the ribs came off)
It sure seemed like the medium cooked ribs quicker than my large.
It was cold, but it felt like I had the vents open wider than I’m used to on the large to maintain a 250 dome temp.
There were no complaints with the finished product, but given my choice I’d prefer a large Egg for most things. However, I admit that I may be biased by my familiarity with the large.
What about you? Ever cooked on the other size Eggs? Leave me a comment and let me know what you though of your experince.
At Thanksgiving, I was visiting family in Pittsburgh and met the owner of Cafe Fifth Avenue. It’s a bar and restaurant that’s right next to Consol Energy Arena where we always take in a Turkey Day Pittsburgh Penguins hockey game. He serves up some mighty tasty chicken wings and through the course of the conversation (and a couple of cold beers), he sent me home with a bag of the seasoning that uses for my very own. If you’re in Pittsburgh, please stop by and try his chicken wings. They were awesome!
I’d been itching to try this on fried chicken, but due to life circumstances in and around the holidays I’ve been trying to eat a little better and fried chicken just hasn’t been on my list. But Sunday, I deciced to try and adapt a recipe for “oven fried” chicken to the grill.
So I soaked a package of chicken wings in buttermilk, seasoned the flour with my new chicken seasoning, and placed the wings in a disposable pan. While this seemed like a reasonable approach, I don’t think my fire was every really hot enough. Towards the end I finally got it where it should have been all along, around 425 degrees.
I did pull the wings out of the pan and crisp them a little directly over the fire at the very end. All in all, the wings were tasty and preferred by my kids over the chicken breasts that I was also grilling. I’ll probably give this another try soon and I’ll use a little more of the seasoning on the chicken. Heck, the Super Bowl is coming up and you can’t go wrong with chicken wings at a football game, now can you?
For me, BBQ has traditionally been pork. Ribs, pulled pork, pork steaks, etc.; it was always pork. I had always heard and read about the elusive brisket and based on the horror stories on the interwebs, I never even tried to cook one until I bought my Big Green Egg. Since then, I’ve had a decent amount of success cooking briskets for my friends, family, and co-workers. So I thought I’d share what I’ve learned since I first tackled what is arguably the hardest piece of meat to cook well.
Packers, flats, & points: You’ll typically find brisket sold in one of 2 ways; flats or packers. A packer cut brisket is packaged in a cryovac package and usually runs 10+ lbs. It’s actually 2 cuts of beef, the brisket flat & point. The bottom side of the package will reveal a thick, hard, white fat covering. This gnarly looking piece of meat covered in fat always intimidated the heck out of me. You’ll also find a brisket flat, which is the leaner of the 2 parts of a brisket. It will have the same covering of fat, will cost a little more per pound, and typically goes 6-8lbs. (note: we won’t talk about “corned beef” briskets that you can find in the grocery stores)
Trim the Brisket: I often cook brisket flats for my family, but the packers are awesome and what most folks cook for BBQ competitions. Either way, trim that brisket. I hate to get a brisket sandwhich in a BBQ joint and find a huge ribbon of fat along one side of the meat. Additionally, any seasoning that you do to a brisket won’t penetrate that fat layer. If you’re cooking a packer, don’t try to seperate the 2 cuts. They’ll come apart much easier after they come off the cooker.
Rub &/or inject: After the brisket is well trimmed, apply your rub &/or injection. I don’t typically inject, but I do apply a generous rub to the brisket. I like a combination of fresh cracked black pepper and kosher salt, but there are lots of good brisket rubs on the market. Note: some folks like to slather their butts &/or brisket with yellow mustard. I used to, but frankly I’ve abandonded the practice and find that I don’t miss it at all.
Indirect Cooking: Set your cooker up for indirect cooking. On the Big Green Egg, that means platesetter installed feet up and temperatures steady at 250 degrees. I like to put a disposable aluminum pan between the platesetter feet and the cooking grate to catch as much of the extra drippings as possible.
The Stall: Like a pork butt, a brisket will reach approximately 160-170 degrees internal temperature and go into a stall. During this time, the connective tissues in the brisket are breaking down and the magic is happening. Once the process is complete, the temp will begin to climb again. When it hits ~195 degrees and a temperature probe slides in easily with little reisisance, the brisket is done. Frankly, this thing is going to look like a meteorite when it’s done but don’t let that fool you.
Burnt Ends: At this point, if you’ve cooked a packer cut brisket it’s time to seperate the flat and the point. You should be able to take a long knive and easily cut through the vein of fat that seperates the flat from the point. The point is fattier and once removed, cube it, sauce it, and return it to the cooker. The extra fat will continue to render from the pieces and the sauce will carmelize. The sugar in the sauce will darken until the pieces look “burnt”, but trust me they aren’t and they are good eatin’!
Rest, slice, & serve: I find that a brisket benefits even more from a little rest period than a pork butt. I like to let it rest for at least a half hour. During this time, the juices redistribute throughout the meat. I typically slice with an electric knife and serve.
It’s true that it’s harder to get a perfect brisket than a perfect pork butt, but even the briskets that miss the mark are awesome. So don’t be afraid or intimiated by that hunk of fat covered meat in your butcher’s meat case. Take it home and give it a shot, it’s totally worth it.
Since I’ve been blogging, I’ve been cooking on a Big Green Egg. But it dawned on me recently that as much as I evangelize the merits of the Big Green Egg, I’ve never actually written a review on the product. What prompted this review is the number of people that are coming to GrillandBarrel.comafter doing a search for “Big Green Egg Review”. Well for those of you that have gotten here through that method, here goes.
For centuries, people have cooked in clay vessels. Evidence of clay cooking vessels have been found all over the world. From the tandoor cooker in India to the mushikamodo in Japan, it’s believed that these are the precursors to today’s kamado style cooker.
Kamados became popular in the US after World War II. Today, there are a number of companies making kamado style cookers using ceramic and refractory materials in their construction. Big Green Egg began production in 1974, first using clay materials and finally the ceramic construction used today. Based in Atlanta, Big Green Egg is the world’s largest producer and international distributor of ceramic, kamado style cookers.
There are many advantages to this style of cooker and in particular, the Big Green Egg.
Temperature Control – once the ceramic material comes up to temp, it retains the heat for hours and doesn’t require a large fire to maintain that temp.
Low Fuel Consumption – as stated above since the ceramic is radiating retained heat, only a small fire is needed for low temperature smoking and thus only a small amount of fuel is required.
Moisture – this style of cooker does not require a pan for water or other liquids. The ceramic retains the moisture in the cooking chamber and produces moist & flavorful results
Grill or Smoke – Of course you can cook indirect on lots of grills, but few afford you the ability to smoke or grill equally well.
Active User Community – There’s a very strong following of fanatical owners of the Big Green Egg online. Called “Eggheads”, you can find them hanging out at the Egghead Forum or gathering at regional “Eggfests” around the country. The granddaddy of all eggfests is in Atlanta in October called Eggtoberfest. There’s plenty of advice, tips, techniques, and recipes willing shared among the loyal following.
Of course there are some drawbacks to any product, and the Big Green Egg is no exception.
Capacity – Although you can add additional cooking grates higher into the dome, there’s no getting around the fact that capacity can be an issue if you often cook for large groups. Now by “large”, I mean more than ~20 folks or so (depending on what your cooking).
Portability – These things are heavy. As such, they’re not great for tailgating, camping etc.
Personally, I find that the advantages to a Big Green Egg outweigh the disadvantages. And since the product comes in sizes ranging from mini to X-Large, I’m confident that there’s a size that’s right for everyone.
Since I acquired my Big Green Egg, the way we eat as a family has completely changed. I cook nearly every weekend and often times throughout the week. With a little practice, you can have the cooker running and ready to cook in less than 15 minutes even though it’s charcoal. So being able to cook dinner after work is very easy to do. When I cook on Sundays, I am most often smoking (or cooking low & slow). This typically means a larger meal with plenty of left overs.
Throughout the pages of GrillandBarrel.com, you’ll find lots of my own experiences with the Big Green Egg. So peruse the information here and let me know if you have questions or feedback on the product.
When I tell folks that the pulled pork they’re enjoying cooked for 12+ hrs (or longer), I often hear comments like “Wow, how many times did you have to add charcoal?”. People are amazed when I tell them that I didn’t add any and that I got a good night’s sleep besides. So here’s an example to illustrate the burn times that can be achieved with the Big Green Egg.
Over the holiday weekend, I cooked pork butt on three consecutive nights. The last night, Saturday, I fired up the BGE at ~9:00pm for an all nighter. I filled the BGE with lump charcoal almost to the fire ring. The butts cooked until ~2:00pm the next day. At that time, we bumped the temps to 300 degree and put a load of ABT’s on the cooker. At ~4:00pm, I removed the plate setter and continued to cook at 300-350 degrees while I put a couple of chicken breasts on.
All told, the cooker ran for ~20 hours on a single load of lump charcoal. I accomplished this without the aid of an electronic draft device (i.e. a Stoker or BBQ Guru), just controlling temps with the vents and giving the coals a good stir when switching between smoking and grilling.
So how about it? How long have you cooked a single load of fuel? And gas doesn’t count! 🙂
Like most holiday weekends, I find myself cooking for almost the entire weekend. But that’s okay, I love doing it. This Memorial Day weekend was no different. And for large meals, there’s nothing better than pulled pork. It’s pretty simple and goes a long way. (Here’s my method for pork butt/pulled pork on the Big Green Egg).
It’s sort of a tradition for me to feed the guys at work on the Friday before a holiday weekend. So, Thursday night I fired up the Big Green Egg and cooked two pork butts totaling ~13lbs. They went on the cooker at 5:45pm on Thursday night and came off around 8:15am on Friday. That’s one all-nighter in the books.
On Friday, I offered to bring pulled pork to a family gathering on Saturday for lunch. So once again I fired up the cooker and went with a single pork butt. (I also fired up theBubba Keg for some bratwurst for dinner.) This time, a six-pounder went on the BGE at 5:30pm on Friday night and I took it off at 6:30am on Saturday. That’s two all-nighters.
My neighbor had planned a backyard party for Sunday and asked me to cook pork butt, so ~15lbs. of pork butt went on the cooker at 9:30 on Saturday night and came off at ~2:00pm on Sunday. That’s three all-nighters in a row.
Even though the BGE does a great job and doesn’t require much tending, I have stayed up late and gotten up early for the past 3 nights. I’m sure glad it’s raining today, I could use a nap!