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Kerry Beal

Cooking on a Big Green Egg

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So - as promised for Kris - a bit of a primer

Egg 101

1. Calibrate your thermometer in boiling water. Adjust the nut behind the dial to read 212F or 100C.

2. Fill the firebox with lump charcoal - light in 3 places. This can be done with a blow torch, a Mapp gas torch, an oil soaked paper towel or a little chunk of those paraffin fire starters - don't use too much of those cause they burn a long time and might add 'flavour' to your cook. If you light in just one spot - the fire can burn straight down and go out.

Leave the lid up for about 10 minutes, then put it down and set the damper and DFMT to the adjustments for the temperature you are after. If you are doing a hot cook - leave the DFMT off. Better to go for a lower temperature and adjust up when it stabilizes than waiting for it to cool down.

Don't chase the temperature - wait for it to stabilize before making adjustments. Don't adjust after lifting the lid - just wait for it to stabilize again.

If you can't get the temperature high enough -

a) Check that the firebox is aligned correctly with the arch in front of the damper.

b) Poke the holes in the grate under the firebox with a wiggle rod (bent coat hanger).

c) Clean out the whole egg - vacuum all the ash from the bottom.

3. Wait until the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) burn off before starting to cook. Sniff the smoke coming from the egg - wait until it smells clean. It will go from white/grey smoke to clear or blueish smoke - and the smell will change. If you put your food on while these VOCs are still present - it will taste like gasoline - not a good thing!

4. When you put the dual function metal top (DFMT) in place on the top - put the screw facing forward in line with the handle. This will prevent it from falling off when you lift the lid and will also prevent the adjustments you have made from being 'readjusted'.

5. The ceramic cap that you snuff the egg with might be a bit loose - and want to fall off when you lift the lid. If this is the case you might want to put a bit of the felt liner inside the cap so it fits more snuggly.

6. If your egg freezes shut - drop in a lit firestarter through the top and wait until it warms itself enough to open.

7. Once your felt gasket burns off replace it with a rutland stove gasket held in place with permatex ultra copper. You only need to put it on the bottom.

8. Setting up Indirect - put the plate setter on top of the fire ring and the rack on top of the plate setter. If you put the plate setter legs up then there will be room for a drip tray under the rack for such thing as pulled pork, ribs etc. Setting up indirect is useful for baking in the egg. Your baking pans won't become discoloured by the smoke. An egg acts like a convection oven for baking. You may want to use a raised grill for baking to get the items you are baking higher in the dome to help with the browning of the top.


Edited by Kerry Beal (log)

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I have now spent a couple hours going through this thread and the various links and have a couple questions. I bought 3 racks of ribs I want to cook tomorrow, I've looked at a couple recipes and they basically say a couple hours over indirect heat, a couple wrapped in foil and some more time over indirect heat unwrapped. My question is my kamado doesn't have a plate setter like the BGE, so how do I make indirect heat?

I've also noticed in some recipes that they wrap the cooked meat and then put it in a cooler box, Kerry has also mentioned this a couple times. Really stupid question, but is the cooler cold? And what is the purpose of this step?


Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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I have now spent a couple hours going through this thread and the various links and have a couple questions. I bought 3 racks of ribs I want to cook tomorrow, I've looked at a couple recipes and they basically say a couple hours over indirect heat, a couple wrapped in foil and some more time over indirect heat unwrapped. My question is my kamado doesn't have a plate setter like the BGE, so how do I make indirect heat?

I've also noticed in some recipes that they wrap the cooked meat and then put it in a cooler box, Kerry has also mentioned this a couple times. Really stupid question, but is the cooler cold? And what is the purpose of this step?

Does your kamado have any sort of rack that hangs below the main grate, or another grate to stack on top of the main grate? Unless you can push your coals over to one side, you'll have to figure out some way to put a barrier between the coals and the meat: some fire bricks or an aluminum pan filled with water or sand. Though I haven't tried, putting the meat on a few layers of foil might work. The likely problem with that will be accumulation of drippings, possible steaming/braising your meat--a rib rack might mitigate that issue somewhat.

As far as the cooler goes, it's at ambient temperature when you put the meat in (wrapped in foil and towels). Generally, the cooler is used if you need to hold the meat for a period of time. If you plan on eating the ribs within a reasonable time of pulling them off the smoker, no need for the cooler.

If you haven't checked it out yet, see www.amazingribs.com for lots of great smoking tips, for all kinds of smokers/grills.

Good luck, and let us know how you make out!

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Thanks for the tips Kerry! Still getting used to the Egg. Tried a variation on the beer can chicken from Modernist C on the weekend. Injected the 4 lb bird with brine and hung in the fridge for two days. Put the Egg on at 200 to 220 degrees. Injected the bird again with brine and baked on the beer can for about 3 to 3.5 hours. Then we opened the vents to brown the bird. OMG. Never, ever have we had such a moist and flavourful bird. The juices were a little pink but the meat was done. We didn't get the fire going properly at the beginning and it went out so we'll do the three starter points as you mentioned the next time.

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A pizza stone will allow indirect too - but as Tim says you'll need to find a way to put it and a drip pan under your rack.

Contact www.ceramicgrillstore.com and give them your measurements - if one of their standard rig won't fit they'll do a custom piece for you.

The cooler is ambient temperature as Tim says - I think the feeling is it holds the meat at high temperature for a period which makes it more fall off the bone. I don't think I've done it for ribs though, just pulled pork and brisket.

I like to cook the ribs without foil. Just low temp for five or six hours until they bend when you pick them up, then sauce for another thirty minutes or so.

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yes, on the coals, I actually use lumps of wood, but chips work as well, just don't smoke that long. For a long smoke you can also light in the middle (works for me) and put the chips in a spiral on top of the coals, the fire slowly grows and lights more chips for smoke.

ETA: I use the weber grill starters, white cubes of something that burns with no odor, they work perfectly and I can't detect any smell or taste. I use only BGE coals, expensive but great, last for a long time, well worth it IMO. BGE also sells starters, I think they are sawdust with wax or something.

Never use fire starter or anything like that in a BGE and similar.

They also sell an electric one, but I find those too cumbersome to use.


Edited by OliverB (log)

"And don't forget music - music in the kitchen is an essential ingredient!"

- Thomas Keller

Diablo Kitchen, my food blog

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as for coal amounts, I never fill the fire box all the way. With firebox I mean the "pot" with holes, which has that ring sitting on top, where you put the grill. I fill the firebox to the level of the holes, or a bit above. I think that's what the manual suggested as well.

If I were to run a 20 hour smoke I might add more, but other than that it's not necessary. Matter of fact, if I find the box half full with left over coals I might just light that for some cooking, unless I want high heat for steak.

Never fill above that fire pot though, that would probably not work well.

One of the many great things with the BGE is how little coal it uses so efficiently. I add more than I think I need, as adding more is a bit of a pain, but that's about it.

It's on fire right now, some chicken with lemon pepper and self made bacon on top is waiting for the sauna to heat up :-)


"And don't forget music - music in the kitchen is an essential ingredient!"

- Thomas Keller

Diablo Kitchen, my food blog

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Oh, for some stuff mentioned above stream here, the egg and similar will retain heat for a long time, you can actually shut it off and still bake something in it for dessert. If you want a sear, cook it low and slow first, take it out, bring up the heat and sear. You could do it the other way round, but you'll be waiting a long time for temps to drop.

regarding open or closed, I never cook on my egg open, gets too hot too fast and eats too many expensive coals. For open grilling I use my Weber with simple charcoal from the store.

I only heat it up high for pizza or steak, I get about 600-650 degree. With steak I use the cast iron grill. For just about anything else I run it at 200-300 degree. I'm in no hurry :-)


"And don't forget music - music in the kitchen is an essential ingredient!"

- Thomas Keller

Diablo Kitchen, my food blog

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Does your kamado have any sort of rack that hangs below the main grate, or another grate to stack on top of the main grate?

The Kamado does have a raised rack that I can put on top of the main grate. Should I use that and then put some type of barrier on the main grate?

By the way, how heavy are the plate setters and are they one size fits all?

I'm going to be ordering both a plate setter and a pizza stone and have my daughter bring them when she comes back from the US in June. I really don't want to fill up her suitcase with stuff that's going to take her over the weight limit...


Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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While I'm on that train of thought.... are there any 'must have' accessories for cooking on the BGE/kamados?


Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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Does your kamado have any sort of rack that hangs below the main grate, or another grate to stack on top of the main grate?

The Kamado does have a raised rack that I can put on top of the main grate. Should I use that and then put some type of barrier on the main grate?

By the way, how heavy are the plate setters and are they one size fits all?

I'm going to be ordering both a plate setter and a pizza stone and have my daughter bring them when she comes back from the US in June. I really don't want to fill up her suitcase with stuff that's going to take her over the weight limit...

Plate setter weighs a ton!

What are the measurements of your fire ring and the rack?

So for now - I'd put the raised rack and the barrier on the main grate as you suggested.

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I've used a chimney starter for the egg but I've also found that just putting in a couple sheets of rolled newspaper work just fine for starting the Kamado. The only thing I've noticed is that it tends to stay in the "flame" stage for an extended period of time whereas the chimney gets it gray pretty quickly.

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Unless your daughter is returning from some Mrs Universe competition with the 1st prize trophy, I would not ask her to carry those lumps back home. It's all pretty heavy stuff, and the plate setter is quite bulky too. Having it shipped ground instead is probably gonna make her much happier! :laugh:

My platesetter is too dirty to put on a scale, but you can probably find out the weight on the BGE website.

But you don't need this thing, you can come up with your own solutions, fire bricks and a pizza stone, two grills above each other, one covered with a pizza stone, things like that.

You could even have something built or build yourself from metal parts and/or an additional grill.


"And don't forget music - music in the kitchen is an essential ingredient!"

- Thomas Keller

Diablo Kitchen, my food blog

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I didn't realize they were that heavy. I looked at shipping one from the US but the shipping rate alone was $70...

I just measured it and the fire bowl and screen are both 19 inches.

I have another idea. I have and old bullet style smoker that has a round metal charcoal bowl, do you think this could be used? If so, which way? bowl style? upside down?

This is what it looks like in the kamado

med_gallery_6134_119_51794.jpg

med_gallery_6134_119_133997.jpg


Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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I didn't realize they were that heavy. I looked at shipping one from the US but the shipping rate alone was $70...

I just measured it and the fire bowl and screen are both 19 inches.

I have another idea. I have and old bullet style smoker that has a round metal charcoal bowl, do you think this could be used? If so, which way? bowl style? upside down?

This is what it looks like in the kamado

med_gallery_6134_119_51794.jpg

med_gallery_6134_119_133997.jpg

Hmmm - not quite sure. Think the egg is 18 inches - but I can measure when I get home tomorrow night.

I suspect that bowl would just take up too much room in there. Do you have a couple of big unglazed tiles or firebricks?

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I think I'll send my husband to the home center when it opens this morning. What I just did is take an old round cooking grate and put it in the fire box. It is just above the coals about halfway down, I have put the bowl on top of that upside down and there is now a good three inches all the way around. The upturned bowl is about 2 inches below the actual cooking grate, I'm hoping this will work for now...


Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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Ok, it didn't work. :angry: I had it going at 225 and came back out and it had dropped to 140. So back to the drawing board. I put about 10 pieces of foil cut into a circle in between two grates an placed those under the main grate. It has slowly made it's way up to 225.

Do you think this will be too strong for indirect heat? It is only 8:30am and the home center store doesn't open until 10.


Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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RE: indirect w/o a "plate setter": all you need is something with a good bit of thermal mass to act as a shield between the coals and your cooking surface. A 18" baking stone (round pizza stone) would work just fine. You can put it atop your grill, then use a couple of firebricks (or split firebricks), copper pipe rounds set on end, or any other heatproof material atop it, and put another grill grate on top. (Or pony up for a raised grid system like those sold through ceramicgrillstore.com ) Your repurposed cast iron smoker box probably blocked too much airflow, thus choking off the fire.

Or if you don't have a baking stone, then try a layer of firebricks atop the grill/grate surface. Get creative; the materials simply need to be heatproof and foodsafe, and allow for good airflow around the sides.

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I picked up a 5lb Boston butt on Sunday morning along with some apple wood and a drip tray. I loaded up the kamado with coals, then used the chiney to get a couple handfuls going. I dropped those into the kamado once they were gray and then put down the first rack. On top of the first rack, I put in a drip tray filled with rocks as a heat shield. It didn't leave a lot of space for air to get around, which worried me a bit. I then left the top crack about an inch and the bottom slat cracked about half an inch and dropped a probe thermometer down into the dome.

Once the temp hit about 220, I threw the pork onto the grill and then dropped some wood chips down onto the coals. I couldn't really get the wood onto the coals very easily because I think I loaded it too full. I then watched the temps

It continued to raise so I finally closed off the top and the bottom slat but I still couldn't get the temp to come down. After a couple hours it was sitting at 300. It was then I realized that my old kamado doesn't have a good seal between the bottom and top domes and so air was still getting in.

After 5 hours the temp was like 320. I checked the meat with the probe and got around 205 so I decided to pull it off. I poured a bit of water on the coals and rocks to try and stop the fire and that seemed to work.

The pork was delicious and had a smallish smoke ring. I made some bbq sauce and the lady made some corn-stuffed poblanos and we had a delicious dinner. I also learned a few more things about my kamado that will serve me well next time, namely to use less coal, put the wood chips on before the meat and then look into getting a new gasket.

It's nice to learn these lessons AND still get a great meal out of it. I tend to learn these lessons while destroying a meal :)

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I would hesitate to pour water into a clay or ceramic cooker--it could easily crack from thermal shock, and also it will be wet from the inside out & unfit for heating until thoroughly dried out again. Self-adhesive felt gasket material is inexpensive (go to eBay and search for "Big Green Egg gasket") and easy to install. It will close up the gap nicely.

Tonight, I did grilled pizza atop my newest acquisition, a granite piastra. I put the granite slab directly atop the grid, heated it up to around 600 degrees, and popped on the pizza. It was done in around 5 minutes, deeply browned/lightly charred on bottom and melted cheese on top. Topped w/fresh yellow tomatoes, strips of proscuitto, a gentle sprinkle of mozzarella, and some grated pecorino.

P5022057-1.JPG

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This was a fun cook that turned out very tasty. Homemade ricotta stuffed cannelloni. The ricotta was made the day before and the fresh pasta the morning of the cook. Baked a nice fresh loaf of bread to go with it. All on the Egg :biggrin:

cannelloniandbread.jpg

Shane


Edited by Mr Holloway (log)

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