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Entries in Big Green Egg (50)

Thursday
May182017

Review: Kick Ash Basket for the Big Green Egg

I've been cooking on my Big Green Egg for about ten years now.  During that time, I've gotten pretty good at managing my fire and creating pretty darned good BBQ using the Egg in it's default configuration.

Over the past few months, I've begun to add a few upgrades.  I replaced my cast iron daisy wheel with the Smokeware Vented Chimney Cap a few months ago.  And most recently, I acquired the Kick Ash Basket for my firebox. 

I ran into an issue recently where I did back to back cooks and needed to reload the BGE with fresh lump charcoal while it was still hot.  Of course trying to knock the ash out of a hot cooker is tough to do.  About that sime time, I came across the Kick Ash Basket and decided to give it a shot.

 

You can use this with or without the cast iron fire grate in the bottom of the firebox.  So far, I'm still using the grate.  But the beautiful thing here is being able to pick up the basket and give it a good shake to clear the ash out of the bottom of of the Egg.  It sure beats stirring the old lump to knock the ash loose.

Since I've been using the Kick Ash Basket, I've noticed that my fire comes up to temp quicker as I've been able to remove the ash from the old lump chacrcoal more completely.

I'm really pleased with this aftermarket product and definitely consider it an upgrade.  What upgrades have you made to your BGE?  Drop me a note and let me know.

Cheers,

Braddog

Saturday
Feb132016

Recipe - Prosciutto Involtini

There's a local pizza joint/brew pub that makes a killer appetizer called Prosciutto Involtini.  In fact, when my bride and I eat there, we often have a salad and this appetizer and call it a meal.  This dish is basically pizza dough topped with, mozarella cheese, and prosciutto.

A few weeks ago, she came up with the notion to try to make these at home.  Her first attempt was a homerun, so I decided to make a batch for the Superbowl.  We cheat a little a use a premade mozarella & prosciutto roll that we slice and lay over a ring of pizza dough.

Here'a a photo journal of the process.

Pizza dough laid out sort of like a pretzel

The Prosciutto and Mozarella Roll

A slice on each loop of pizza dough

The final result I didn't get a shot of these on the grill.  But I setup my Big Green Egg for pizza cooking/baking and grilled these at 425 degrees until the pizza dough began to get brown.

These were a big hit at the Superbowl party and are great with marinara suace for dipping.  I'll definitely do these again (and again).

Cheers,
Braddog 

Sunday
Jan172016

Recipe: Pig Shots

With football playoffs underway, I wanted to try something different to share with friends while watching the NFC playoffs on Saturday.  I'd seen this appetizer a couple of different times recently, so I decided to give it a shot.

Basically, pig shots are formed with a slice of sausage wrapped in a piece of bacon on it's edge.  This forms a "shot glass" that you then fill with whatever you choose.  I used a mixture of cream cheese and green chillies.  I applied a spicy BBQ rub and also topped them with brown sugar.

Here are a few pictures of the process:

Kielbasa & Bacon

"Shot Glasses"

Filled with cream cheese, green chillies, and topped with brown sugar 

The finished product

Here is the stey by step process:

  • cut sausage (I used Kielbasa) into 3/8" discs
  • wrap 1/2 piece of bacon (on edge) around each disc and secure with a toothpick
  • combine 8 oz. block of cream cheese (softened) with 1/2 can of green chillies
  • apply bbq rub
  • pipe or spoon cream cheese mixture into "shot glasses"
  • top with brown sugar
  • cook indirect at ~300* for 45-60 minutes or until the bacon is finished to your liking

*Note:  I cooked indirect on the Big Green Egg with platesetter in place (wrapped in foil of course)

If I do these again, I think I'd add some grated cheese to the cream cheese mixture and experiment with a different type of sausage, Boudin maybe?

What's on your menu for football playoff season?  We all need a killer dish for the big game in a few weeks.  

Cheers,
Braddog 

Sunday
Mar012015

Butcher Paper Brisket

Over the past few months, I've been reading about this technique on the interwebs.  I've tried wrapping my brisket in foil before, but frankly I prefer to cook it unwrapped.  Now keep in mind, I'm not cooking for competitions or trying to cook a brisket in a short amount of time (usually).  However, there are times when I'd sure like to be able to do one in less than 12 hours.

So this past weekend, I decided that I would cook one brisket on Saturday using the butcher paper method.  If that was successful, I'd cook one on Sunday morning for my annual Daytona 500 gathering.  If it wasn't successful, I'd still have time to cook one overnight on the Big Green Egg.  Seemed like a reasonable plan, all except for the $45 practice brisket.

In general, wrapping your brisket (or ribs, etc) after a couple of hours helps the meat finish sooner.  There is some science behind this around how connective tissues break down etc, but frankly if you're reading this because you're looking for the science behind the process you should stop now and move along to another blog.

Most often, you'll see folks wrap brisket in foil.  But recently the notion of wrapping in  butcher paper has become popular. Part of the theory is that the paper provides the same benefit in terms of helping the meat finish sooner, without the braising effect of foil.

So, I prepped my brisket:

Cooked indirect at 325 degrees for 4 hours

At 4 hours, I wrapped in butcher paper.  Didn't check temp, but wrapped when the bark had the right "look" and placed the brisket back on the cooker.

I probed the brisket through the paper and when I thought it felt tender and the temp was 200 degrees plus, I pulled it.  Total cook time was about 6 hours.

Here's the brisket as I unwrapped it:

Sliced.....

The results?  It just wasnt' tender enough.  You could say that I should have cooked it longer.  Maybe, but it was also dry and if I'd cooked it longer it would have been even drier. 

So the jury is still out for me.  I don't think this is a viable option for the Big Green Egg.  I'll try it again on the Backwoods Smoker and see if different cookers have different results.  Stay tuned for more.

Cheers,
Braddog 

Friday
Dec202013

Ribs on a Medium Big Green Egg

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.

Cheers,

Braddog

Friday
Aug262011

Which Big Green Egg should I buy?

As I've mentioned in the past, I've done cooking demonstrations for the local Big Green Egg dealer and have inadvertnetly become the resource for friends & neighbors who have questions about BBQ.  Okay so maybe that wasn't so inadvertent, but I do get asked for input to a variety of BBQ & grilling related questions and I'm quite long on opinion.  =)

One of the most common questions I get is "Which Big Green Egg should I buy?".  And in my normal fashion, I answer that question with a question of my own.  How many people are you going to cook for?  Or, How much meat do you typically cook at one time?

I think these questions are much more relevant than the frequency with which you use your grill or even what things you like to cook.  The latter is really a testament to the felxibility of the Big Green Egg.  Grill (hot & fast) or smoke (low & slow), it's the most versatile outdoor cooking device I've ever seen or used.

Nonetheless, here's my recommendations for which BGE to buy.

  • If you normally cook for less than a dozen people, I'd buy a large.
  • If you normally cook for just your immediate family, I'd buy a large.
  • If you like to accessorize your major purchases, I'd buy a large.  There are tons more accessories from Big Green Egg and 3rd party manufactures for this size than any other.
  • Now if, like me, every time you fire up the grill you draw a crowd, then I'd get an X-Large.
  • Mini-Med: 
    • To me, these sizes fit niche uses. 
    • I think a medium is a great addition for someone who already owns a Large, or wants to use it for times when you're cooking for just yourself &/or your spouse.
    • A small might be good for the RV, tailgaiting, or an activity where portability is important.
    • Mini?  I can't think of a good use for a mini except maybe as a paperweight or conversation piece in your den.  I just can't imagine ever getting much use from that size Egg.

Well that's the selection criteria as I see it.  Am I right or wrong?  Let me know by leaving a comment.


Cheers,
Braddog

 

Saturday
Aug062011

Back to Basics

The last 2 significant cooks that I've done this summer were done at remote locations.  In fact, I haven't yet hauled the Backwoods Pro Jr. home.

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So that means I've spent the last few weeks cooking on the Big Green Egg and even the Bubba Keg.  It's been kind of fun to get back to basics and not have the weight of preparing BBQ for a couple of hundred people.

Last weekend, I cooked 2 packer briskets on the Big Green Egg and really enjoyed the results.  This weekend, I think it'll just be some grilled chicken, maybe a fatty, and some ABT's.

I've gone back to the basics of late, and it's refreshing.

Cheers,

Braddog

Monday
Jun202011

Brisket on the Big Green Egg

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.
  • A Large Brisket Flat
  • 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.
  • Brisket Flat Finishing on a BGE
  • 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'!
  • Sliced Brisket, Ready to Serve
  • 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.

Cheers,
Braddog 

 

 

Tuesday
May102011

Review: Big Green Egg


2007 05 27 004

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.com after 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.


IMG_0476Kamados 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.

Table with Egg

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.

Maybe I'll run into you at an Eggfest someday!

Cheers,
Braddog 

Sunday
May012011

Recap: Grillfest 2011

As I mentioned earlier, I spent the day on Saturday demonstrating how to cook on the Big Green Egg, answering questions from current & prospective owners, and helping the local dealer with their big spring event.

IMG_0484

I had the two Big Green Eggs lit by 7:15am, and the first side of ribs went on by 7:30am.  I staggered the start times of baby back ribs, so that we had finished samples at staggered times later in the day.  We then put biscuits & sausage on the XL Big Green Egg and the early attendees were treated to breakfast.

IMG_0476

The rest of the day, we kept a steady supply of ABT's, spatchcocked chickens, pork steaks, pizza, and bacon wrapped meatballs on the grills.  By 8:00pm, my dogs were screaming and I was glad to pack it in and call it a day. 

By all accounts, the dealer had a good sales day and collected quite a lot of canned goods for their food drive.

IMG_0483

I'm pretty confident that we made converts of quite a few grill buyers.  Mission Accomplished!

Here is a link to the rest of the Grillfest 2011 Photos.

Cheers,
Braddog