Author Topic: Big Green Egg  (Read 39783 times)

Offline gordonstrong

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Big Green Egg
« on: December 21, 2010, 06:56:11 AM »
I was looking at BGEs the other day and couldn't decide between the large and the XL, which probably means that I'd like one in between.  And which also means I'll likely buy the bigger one.  Looks like I'll need 3 people to help me put it together, though.

I have a nice gas grill, but was looking to replace an old water smoker that died, plus be able to do charcoal cooking, wood-fired pizzas, and maybe some tandoori.  Can the BGE do all those things?  It seems like it has a lot of excellent features, but I was wondering how many different cooking techniques can be applied successfully on this beast.  Not just what's possible, but what is actually a good idea to do.
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Offline johnf

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Re: Big Green Egg
« Reply #1 on: December 21, 2010, 07:48:06 AM »
I was looking at BGEs the other day and couldn't decide between the large and the XL, which probably means that I'd like one in between.  And which also means I'll likely buy the bigger one.  Looks like I'll need 3 people to help me put it together, though.

I have a nice gas grill, but was looking to replace an old water smoker that died, plus be able to do charcoal cooking, wood-fired pizzas, and maybe some tandoori.  Can the BGE do all those things?  It seems like it has a lot of excellent features, but I was wondering how many different cooking techniques can be applied successfully on this beast.  Not just what's possible, but what is actually a good idea to do.

That is the strength of the BGE, that it can do so many things. I probably don't have to convince you that it is a good smoker since people win BBQ competitions with them but it is definitely good for pizza (can hold 700 easy, I can get it to 900 but it is a bit fussy at that temperature for all of the lid opening and closing you have to do for pizzas). It works good for tandoori except you can't do naan on the sides. You can do them on the pizza stone and they come out great, but you can only do a few at a time. I'm pretty happy with mine for BBQ, grilling, and pizza. I haven't done the tandoori more than twice. I think it is going to fall well short of an actual tandoor but reality is that it is a lot better than anything a normal person owns and I'll never buy a tandoor. You can cold smoke with one but not quite out of the box. See nakedwhiz.com for some ideas.

We also use ours for baking bread sometimes. It is pretty easy to spray some water through the top at the beginning to simulate a commercial deck oven.

Consider the capacity of the large with a tiered grate before you get an XL, that may be good enough. You can do two boston butts and a whole brisket on a large with two tiers.

As for putting it together. I bought mine locally and delivery and assembly was included in the price. I might have been able to get it cheaper from a place that didn't do the assembly, but I am sure it saved me a couple of hours.


Offline riverrat

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Re: Big Green Egg
« Reply #2 on: December 21, 2010, 08:01:45 AM »
Picking the right size is difficult.  I have a large, and often times I wish I had a medium and an XL as well.  The large is overkill for a standard 2 person dinner, but it does well with 20+ lbs of turkey, pork shoulder, ribs, etc....  The XL will use more charcoal than the Large, but if you are always cooking enough to overfill the large, then you are better off with the XL.  If you are looking to do the entire meal on the grill, maybe lean towards the XL, but if you are looking to do just the main dish typically, go for the large.  There are also option (from BGE and other places) to increase your capacity, change the distance from the fire, etc...

I have done everything from smoked ribs and brisket, chicken (wings, pieces, breasts, whole, spatchcocked), 24 lb turkey, burgers, fajitas, veggies, potatoes, fish, to seared steaks and 3-4 minute pizzas (personal sized ~10"-12").  I'm not familiar with tandoori cooking (heard of it, but not really sure of the process) so I can't help you with that one.  I still want to try bread, setting up a cold smoke system, and a host of other things.

If you want some more detailed help, feel free to ask (there are several eggers on here) or visit the big green egg forum.

It seems to me, that about 90% of people that have tried a big green egg love it.  The other 10% should stick with gas grills and the kitchen stove (or maybe even the local steakhouse).
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Offline phillamb168

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Re: Big Green Egg
« Reply #3 on: December 21, 2010, 08:55:02 AM »
My large egg has been the perfect size for us so far - typically during grilling season I'll cook for between 5 and 15 people and get food cranked out with no problem. For briskets, etc, I've never had trouble fitting anything on.

I can vouch for the tandoor. 900 degrees is totally doable, although you'll want to upgrade to the high-temp felt lining, because the standard stuff melts at around 600 I believe. Use the "T-Rex" method to get it way up there for steaks and things.

Also, DO NOT PUT IT TOGETHER BY YOURSELF (if at all possible). Have the guy from the shop come down and put it together. We had to take ours apart for the trip overseas and when I put it back together the lid wasn't seated quite right, and it's a b**** b**** b**** to put on correctly. It'll be worth it. Also, build a nest. The tiny nest that comes with it is nice, especially with the little flip-up side tables, but you'll be thankful for all the extra prep space if you build a bigger one. Plans are available on the BGE site for free fitty.
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Offline gordonstrong

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Re: Big Green Egg
« Reply #4 on: December 21, 2010, 09:07:41 AM »
Good replies, thanks.  Other opinions welcome.

I'm probably not aware of all the various options and such.  I saw the pizza stone and stand thing.  Frankly, that was the one thing that didn't appeal to me for the large.  The grate seemed to be big enough, but the pizza stone seemed quite small in comparison.  I'd like to be able to do a 16" pizza.  Maybe a third party stone or something.

My oven can only hit 550, so I'm looking forward to 700+.

How is it at maintaining the low-and-slow warm smoking temps?  I don't cold smoke much, so that's not a big deal.
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Offline johnf

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Re: Big Green Egg
« Reply #5 on: December 21, 2010, 09:19:37 AM »
Good replies, thanks.  Other opinions welcome.

I'm probably not aware of all the various options and such.  I saw the pizza stone and stand thing.  Frankly, that was the one thing that didn't appeal to me for the large.  The grate seemed to be big enough, but the pizza stone seemed quite small in comparison.  I'd like to be able to do a 16" pizza.  Maybe a third party stone or something.

My oven can only hit 550, so I'm looking forward to 700+.

How is it at maintaining the low-and-slow warm smoking temps?  I don't cold smoke much, so that's not a big deal.

This is where it shines. The thermal mass keeps it much more stable than other smokers. There is a small learning curve in terms of getting a feel for how to adjust the temperature without over adjusting. I did ribs a couple of times since they aren't overnight to get a feel and then my first overnight cook went pretty well. If I sleep 8 hours, I'll typically have drifted less than 20 degrees. I put one of those remote probe thermometer things in there and once it did wake me up in the middle of the night but that was probably poor fire building on my part.

Since I like toys I did eventually buy an electronic controller (turns a fan connected to the input on and off) and I can monitor and control the temperature from anywhere I have internet access. So now I have the confidence to cook something while I am at work, but I don't do that too often. It's nice to be able to run around town and keep an eye on things (especially towards the end of a cook) but it's a toy, not something that is necessary or really even worth the money from a practical point of view.

I did a couple dozen overnight cooks with just a cheapy remote probe thermometer and, like I said, I had one fairly minor problem and got to sleep through the night the others times with fairly acceptable temperature drift.

You'll have no trouble with stability down to about 200F, lower in winter. With the electronic controller I can get stability a bit lower but you really rarely need temperatures between cold smoking and 200, so who cares?

Offline riverrat

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Re: Big Green Egg
« Reply #6 on: December 21, 2010, 09:32:42 AM »
On the pizza stone, keep in mind that you do need space around the outside for airflow.  When you are reaching 700 degrees, you are burning a lot of charcoal, and need to move a lot of air through the coal bed and out the top.  It is also a good idea to have a double layer of ceramic between the coal and the pizza so you don't scorch the crust.  Most people do this with a plate setter (legs down or flat side up) and a pizza stone on top of that (usually with some sort of spacer between them, like 3 balls of aluminum foil, the feet from the egg grill, some small pieces of fire brick, etc...).  If you do get a different brand of pizza stone, make sure it's a good one.  The cheap ones (*cough*pamperedchef*cough*) will crack in the heat.  I believe the BGE stone is 16", but you could probably go a touch bigger.  

The most useful accessory I have found is the plate setter.  Whatever size you end up with, plan on a plate setter. As far as tiered racks, I would lean more towards:  http://www.ceramicgrillstore.com/ceramicgrillstore/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=54&Itemid=226  That is probably my next addition to the outdoor kitchen.


As far as smoking, I have held mine at around 230 (+/-15) for around 22 hours for smoking two 10 lb pork shoulders with minimal fussing.  You can also get a stoker (fan controlled by a thermocouple probe) if you want hands off smoking.
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Offline phillamb168

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Re: Big Green Egg
« Reply #7 on: December 21, 2010, 09:50:26 AM »
I bought a BBQ Guru at the same time as my egg and have never had a problem keeping it at 225. One time I smoked a rather tough shoulder and it kept 225 for nearly 30 hours, hands-free. My only complaint with the BBQ Guru is that it can't go higher than 350 I believe.
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Offline euge

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Re: Big Green Egg
« Reply #8 on: December 21, 2010, 09:52:00 AM »
I have the large. Absolutely love it. Put it together myself too...

You can forgo the nest if you won't be moving it around and get the plate setter instead. And, I might purchase the small egg, since firing up the large egg for one steak or pork-chop is a little wasteful. Must add that it's quick to bring up to temp and very economical with the fuel at low cooking.

Bought mine back in August and have used it at least 20 times. The BBQ Guru in on my wish list.
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Offline johnf

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Re: Big Green Egg
« Reply #9 on: December 21, 2010, 10:08:05 AM »
I bought a BBQ Guru at the same time as my egg and have never had a problem keeping it at 225. One time I smoked a rather tough shoulder and it kept 225 for nearly 30 hours, hands-free. My only complaint with the BBQ Guru is that it can't go higher than 350 I believe.

I have the stoker and it will go higher but you need to buy a slightly higher priced probe. I also like that it is a web server as opposed to the Guru being a USB slave device. I set my router to always give the stoker the same IP address, set up port forwarding and now I just plug it into a bridge and have it bookmarked on my phone (okay, my home IP address is not static, but it rarely changes). Also the open architecture led to the excellent StokerLog third party application (just need an android version and I'm set).

A lot simpler to me. It seems like people who have either love them though.

One upside to BBQ Guru is they sell some budget solutions whereas Stoker only has the one solution which is comparable to the higher end BBQ Guru stuff.

I think these are all overkill for the BGE if you can stay home (even asleep with a cheap Polder type remote probe thermometer as an alarm). Very high cool factor though. Coworkers get a kick out of seeing me control my BGE from my computer at work.

Offline bluesman

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Re: Big Green Egg
« Reply #10 on: December 21, 2010, 10:41:06 AM »
I have debated making a BGE purchase on several occasions. It will be my next grill purchase for sure. There are many pros and only a few cons.

The pros:

thermal efficiency
fuel efficiency
fast lighting
temp capability
year round use

The cons:

it's heavy
expensive

The ultimate reason for me is the ability to grill and smoke at steady states as the grill regulates temps. extremely well.
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Offline phillamb168

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Re: Big Green Egg
« Reply #11 on: December 22, 2010, 03:11:25 AM »
And, I might purchase the small egg, since firing up the large egg for one steak or pork-chop is a little wasteful. Must add that it's quick to bring up to temp and very economical with the fuel at low cooking.

Sometimes I kick myself for not having bought a small to go with the large before I moved. I found a Small at a shop in Brussels for the "value" price of 750 euros. FOR A SMALL. Shipping's a b****.
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Offline gordonstrong

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Re: Big Green Egg
« Reply #12 on: December 22, 2010, 06:08:32 AM »
I'm not interested in the smaller sizes.  If I had one steak, I'd either use the gas grill or a cast iron pan on the stove.  Just did that the other night.  We went out unexpectedly one night, so on the next night had a rib eye thawed at the same time we had some nice scallops.  The wife said, "let's do surf and turf", so I pan fried the steak in the cast iron skillet, finishing it in the oven, while I dusted the scallops with sea salt and curry powder and pan roasted them with butter.  Some swiss chard with bacon and leeks, and a twice baked potato rounded out the meal.  Should have taken a picture for the food pr0n people.

Thanks for all the advice.  I think I've been convinced to go with the large.

I'll probably just get the wheels and a cover for it, plus the pizza stuff.  I have plenty of side tables (including those on the gas grill) that I can use.
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Offline beerocd

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Re: Big Green Egg
« Reply #13 on: December 22, 2010, 06:23:36 AM »
I'm not interested in the smaller sizes.  If I had one steak, I'd either use the gas grill or a cast iron pan on the stove.  Just did that the other night.  We went out unexpectedly one night, so on the next night had a rib eye thawed at the same time we had some nice scallops.  The wife said, "let's do surf and turf", so I pan fried the steak in the cast iron skillet, finishing it in the oven, while I dusted the scallops with sea salt and curry powder and pan roasted them with butter.  Some swiss chard with bacon and leeks, and a twice baked potato rounded out the meal.  Should have taken a picture for the food pr0n people.

Thanks for all the advice.  I think I've been convinced to go with the large.

I'll probably just get the wheels and a cover for it, plus the pizza stuff.  I have plenty of side tables (including those on the gas grill) that I can use.

Boy that dinner sounds great!

Prior to the BGE what equipment did you use? I don't think I could talk myself into one due to the cost. I need to find someone who owns one and be convinced that way. I saw the Bubba Keg for only $450 and I didn't bite then either.
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Offline gordonstrong

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Re: Big Green Egg
« Reply #14 on: December 22, 2010, 06:31:52 AM »
Well, the only equipment the BGE will replace is an old water smoker, I think it was a Brinkman.  Green steel bullet-shaped thing.  Worked well for a decade, then died.  So I've been smoking using the gas grill with the burners turned off on one side and the wood wrapped in foil on the lit side.  Works OK, but it's not as good.

I still have and will use a big gas grill, indoor oven and stove, etc.  But I'll likely use the BGE for tasks that I had been doing sub-optimally on the other gear.  Most foods you can cook multiple ways.

It *is* expensive.  But it seems to be amazingly well constructed, so I judge it to be a fair value since it's likely to provide superior performance over an extended lifetime.  I'd rather pay more once than to have to keep replacing something that is failing all the time.  Even when something less robust isn't failing, it might not be performing at its peak.

Plus it's my birthday today, so it's easy to use that as an excuse.
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