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Entries in Big Green Egg (50)


Grillfest 2011

Just like last year, my buddy & I will be demonstrating the Big Green Egg for the local dealer.  This is their annual wing-ding where the manufacturer's representatives come and display their wares, answer questions about their products, and cook samples for folks to try.


Last year the Big Green Egg rep couldn't make it, so we stepped up and handled the demo in his place.  They asked us back for another demo on Father's Day weekend also.  I don't mean to brag, but between the two demonstrations and their normal sales efforts we sold every Egg of every size that they had ordered for the entire season....and then some.

So if you don't have plans this weekend, come on down to Hearthside Grill & Fireplace to check out the Big Green Egg (as well as the Weber, Traeger, & Holland line ups). 

Here are the details:

Hearthside Grill & Fireplace

418 South Belt East
Belleville, IL

One Block East of the Fairgrounds.

We'll be there from 8:00am - 8:00pm this Saturday, April 30th.  Hope to see you there!



Review: Andria's Steak Sauce

When I first moved to the St Louis metro area over 20 years ago, a friend introduced me to Andria's restaurant in O'Fallon, IL. They lived up to their reputation then and now by preparing one of the best steaks in the area. Their signature steaks are basted in their own sauce, and I have to tell you that the sauce is well worth adding to your backyard endeavors.

I really enjoy using this sauce as a marinade for steaks, but it goes equally well on chicken breasts and pork chops. It's unique flavor adds a bit of salt & garlic goodness to the meat whether you "brush it on" as they apparently do in the restaurant or choose to marinade as I do.

I recently grilled two whole beef tenderloins for a Christmas gathering. I marinated each of them for 4 hrs in a zip lock bag full of Andria's sauce. When I placed them on the grill, I used the leftover marinade as a basting sauce throughout the cook. I received rave reviews from the diners at our party. I've never met anyone who didn't enjoy steaks prepared in this manner.

If you're in the St. Louis area, the local grocery stores carry the product. If not, it's available online here .



BBQ Ribs in 2 Easy Steps

When I first began trying to create great ribs, I stumbled upon the 3-2-1 method. That's the method that involves 3 hrs in the smoke, 2 hours in aluminum foil, and another hour in the smoke (or a variation of these times).

That method produces pretty good ribs, but there are some that say the time in foil is steaming the ribs, not BBQing them, etc. I say if you like your ribs that way then have at it.  In fact, I was a 3-2-1 guy myself until this summer.  I've had the chance to cook more ribs this season than ever and here's what I've learned.

  • Foil...who needs it?  Partly due to the fact that I've begun to cook on a Backwoods Fat Boy where doing a whole lot of ribs at once makes foiling a huge, time consuming effort, I no longer wrap my ribs in foil.  The Backwoods & the Big Green Egg maintain a moist cooking environment and I don't find that I need to bother with the foil to get great results.
  • Cooking at a little higher temp isn't a bad thing.  I've always tried to keep the cooker at 250*, but it turns out that most things are just as good at 275*.  When demonstrating the Big Green Egg this summer, it was hard to keep the temp below 275* what with everyone wanting to see the meat on the cooker.  Frankly, those are some of the best ribs I've done.
  • Patience, as I've stated earlier, truly is a virtue.  Foiling the ribs and messing with all that always seemed like the magic to getting really tender, juicy ribs.  But guess what, if you're patient and let things take their own course, good things will happen.
  • 3+2+1=6  Now I didn't have to take up BBQ to learn that math, but my new approach to BBQ'ing ribs has them finishing in that amount of time or less...usually less.  I think that foiling made me feel like I was a more integral part of the process than I really am.  Frankly, the fire & the smoke are doing all the work and don't really need my involvement othen than tending the fire.

So my revised rib process looks like this:

  • Put the ribs on
  • Take the ribs off when they're done

Doesn't get much simpler than that!




Spatchcock Chicken on the Big Green Egg

I’ve done this several times and pulled the chicken for sandwhiches and the like.  However, I’ve had two conversations this week with folks who didn’t necessarily get what I was talking about.  So here’s a shot of a “spatchcock” or butterflied chicken.

To do this, just cut down each side of the backbone/spine of a whole chicken and remove it.  Place your fingers in each side of the incision, press inward on the breast bone with your thumbs, pull each side apart apart at the incision that you’ve made, and the breast bone will crack open till the bird lies flat.  I grill these at ~325 degrees or so for ~1 hour & 15 mins (or until they’re done).

If you haven’t tried this, you should.  It’s pretty darned tasty.





Beef Tenderloin - Round 2

I've had family in town for a long weekend and we've had a world class weekend running the cookers.  Today, I decided it'd be steak & potatoes in recognition of my father-in-law's birthday.

Last week I took a run at trimming a beef tenderloin and slicing it into steaks.  This week I elected to roast the tenderloin whole.  Wow!  This thing rocked.  I cooked it till it was ~155 degrees in the thickest part.  This allowed me to cut steaks of different levels of doneness to allow for personal preferences.

Here's a shot the whole tenderloin cut in half before I carved it.



Grillfest 2010

A couple of years ago I was in my local grill and fireplace store, Hearthside Grill and Fireplace in Belleville, IL.  As I chatted with the folks there, I found out that they were in process of becoming a Big Green Egg dealer.  They took my name and number and I told them that I'd be happy to help them out any time and I'd like to be on their mailing list for any special events.

I've probably only been in the place a couple of times since then, but out of the clear blue sky I got a phone call about 2 months ago.  It was the lady I'd spoke with and she was inquiring about whether I'd be available to demonstrate the Big Green Egg at their annual Grillfest.  It seems that the regional BGE representative wasn't available and all the other manufacturer's reps would be there demonstrating their products.  I readily agreed and the day finally arrived.

Grillfest 2010 at Hearthside Grill in Belleville, ILI enlisted the help of my neighbor and good friend and together we prepped 100 ABT's, ribs, a fatty, and pork tenderloin for the event.  I arrived at 7:30am and found the other reps alredy on site and beginning to cook.  So I quickly got a fire going in both the large and extra-large Big Green Eggs that the folks had for me to use.

Dave Dey & Jay "Braddog" BradshawI staggered the start time of 3 racks of ribs so that the finish times would be staggered throughout the middle of the day.  That worked really well.  We put the fatty on with a pan of biscuits and had samples of those early in the day.  We also had ABT's going in small batches throughout the day.

Along about lunch time, the local Papa Murphy's showed up with 16 ready-to-bake-pizzas so we configured the XL BGE for baking pizza.  This was the first time that I'd cooked on an XL and the first time I'd cooked pizza on the BGE.  This rocked!  I'll definitely be doing this again at home.

There were a couple of notable moments during the day that really provided me with a little personal validation.

  1. I noticed the Holland Grill rep hanging around and listening to my conversation with a prospective buyer.  Afterwards, he commented, "You guys are waaay better than the BGE rep". 
  2. One of the guests had spent a lot of time with me talking about the BGE.  He then wandered over to the Traeger tent and sampled a rib.  He happened back by as I was serving up rib samples.  He leaned over to me and said, "I know it's not a competition, but your ribs beat the Traeger ribs hands down".

It was a long day, but I loved it.  I think the dealer was satifisfied with our effort and maybe they'll ask us back next year.




Daytona 500 & BBQ....2 of My Favorites

I've written about this before, but as usual I cooked for the Daytona 500 and had a few folks over to enjoy the race. 

This year, I decided on brisket.  I hadn't yet used my home made Magic Dust on brisket, so I trimmed up a couple of flats and liberally applied the rub that Mike Mills uses at 17th Street Bar & Grill.

Everything began just fine, but I ran into a snag when I awoke to find my cooker was only running about 160 degrees.  I didn't waste any time trying to fan the fire and get it restoked.  Instead, I disassembled the cooking setup and relit with my MAPP Torch .  I figure I saved a half an hour by going this route rather than waiting for the fire to rekindle via increased air flow.

Turns out, the overall cooking time was longer than I had planned due to this little problem.  And, we didn't have brisket until sometime around the second caution flag.  However, the Magic Dust was very tasty on the brisket and I was pleased with the overall results. 

My only regret is that since the brisket ran late, I caught a lot of grief from my guests.  But it sure didn't stop anyone from putting away the BBQ.



Indirect Grilling?

I know, seems like a oxymoron to me too. By my definition (and I think that of many others), BBQ is indirect cooking at low temps. Grilling, on the other hand, is cooking directly over a hot fire.

So imagine my surprise when my brother began to describe his method for grilling burgers, chicken breasts, etc. with an indirect setup on his Big Green Egg. Apparently, he leaves the platesetter in place, brings the temp up to 350 degrees or more, and cooks indirect.

Now I suppose you could argue that this is like cooking in an oven, but it's a method that I need to investigate.

Anyone else ever do any "indirect grilling"? Leave a comment an let me know.



You want my advice, or not?

I'm often asked for a recommendation on a backyard cooker.  Many times, I've recommended a Big Green Egg to folks who've subsequently bought one and seem to be fairly happy with their decision. However, at least twice over the past year I've been asked for my opinion by folks who ulitimately didn't care for my advice. 

You see, I don't have a standard answer to the question "What cooker should I buy?".  I typically answer that question with a question of my own like, "What sort of things do you like to cook?", or "Do you think you'd enjoy the process of creating slow cooked BBQ?".  Based on how folks answer those questions and how they respond to a quick lesson on the difference between "BBQ" & "Grilling", I've recommended a variety of different cookers.

Sometimes when folks are used to lighting the gas grill and immediately throwing the meat on, it's hard for them to imagine the planning and time required to turn out great BBQ.  To those folks, I recommend that they buy a gas grill and keep grilling.  But they don't always appreciate or like that advice.  Sometimes they want me to convince them that they will enjoy the process and that the commitment is worth it.

Frankly, I can't convince anyone to enjoy the process of cooking good BBQ.  If you are unsure about committing to tending a live fire or committing to the time then by all means cook the way you're used to cooking. 

There's nothing wrong with cooking on a gas grill.  Heck, the stores are full of them so somebody must be buying them.






Round 2 - Bubba Keg vs. Big Green Egg

Round 2 Cookers The Contestants

NOTE:  The Bubba Keg has been re-branded to the Big Steel Keg.

If you’re a regular visitor, you know that I’ve been cooking on the Big Green Egg for a couple of years and recently acquired a Bubba Keg to add to my arsenal.  While both follow the tradition of the Kamado style cooker, they employ slightly different construction materials and techniques.

In my first head-to-head throwdown, I was surprised when the Bubba Keg came out on top.  In that test, I smoked a load of pork steaks on each cooker and submitted the results to family & friends for their choice of the best.

Round 2 BKG Before Bubba Keg - Ribs on

Round 2 BGE Before Big Green Egg - Ribs OnI took advantage of the great weather over the weekend to conduct Round 2 of my throwdown between the Bubba Keg & the Big Green Egg.  In this head-to-head competition, I bought a package of baby-back ribs from Sam’s Club, prepared them identically, and put half on the Bubba Keg & half on the Big Green Egg.  I started the fires at the same time (actually one right after the other since I was working alone), using the same fuel & indirect setup in both cookers. 

I typically do ribs in a modified 3-2-1 method.  However I decided that to keep things as consistent as possible and eliminate as many variables as I could, I’d go low & slow for ~5 hrs and evaluate the results.  Here’s how things turned out.


  • Fire Control – As I’ve said before, I find it much easier to control temp on the Big Green Egg.  This cook was no different, but I do find that I’m getting better with the Bubba Keg.  The thing I took notice of on this cook was the elapsed time to “ready to cook”.  In order to keep the Bubba Keg fire under control, I really have to take my time in bringing the fire up the target temp.  However, I can rush the Big Green Egg right up to temp and be ready to cook very quickly.  Advantage here remains with the Big Green Egg.
  • Cooking Environment – I commented during the last throwdown that the cooking environment seemed to much more moist with the Bubba Keg.  Again, I was impressed by how much so during this cook.  As stated earlier, I did not employ the 3-2-1 method.  However, the ribs from the Bubba Keg were falling apart as though I had foiled them.  The ribs off of the Big Green Egg were a little firmer and more like competition ribs that have a little tug but pull clean from the bone.  This one’s too close to call as it really is a matter of preference as to how you prefer your ribs.

  • Taste Test – I was really surprised in this category.  My family & the friends who helped in the blind judging are used to eating ribs from the Big Green Egg prepared with the 3-2-1 method.  So I really expected the preference to be for the ribs from the Bubba Keg, since the expectation has become that the ribs fall off the bone.  However, 6 out of 8 testers actually chose the ribs from the Big Green Egg.  Advantage, Big Green Egg.


Round 2 BKG After Bubba Keg - Finished Ribs

Round 2 BGE After Big Green Egg - Finished Ribs

Round 2 of the head-to-head throwdown goes to the Big Green Egg.

So I’ve spent two glorious afternoons cooking on a couple of pits that produce some awesome BBQ.  I’ve tried to quantify the differences and find an advantage to one or the other, and I think I’ve done so.  However the margin of victory in each head-to-head competition is so slight that it’s really difficult to call a winner and in some cases it’s a matter of personal preference.

If you’re cooking on either the Bubba Keg or the Big Green Egg, you have chosen a cooker capable of grilling, baking or producing great BBQ.  If you're considering either of these cookers, you're making a great choice.