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Entries in Big Green Egg (50)


Recipe: Cedar Plank Salmon

Barbecue to me is as much a process as it is a particular dish.  It’s the process of cooking something slowly at a fairly low temperature.  I’m picky about my barbecue, whether it’s pulled pork, ribs, brisket or something a little less traditional.  As much as I enjoy pork & beef on the smoker, I like to break it up with chicken & fish from time to time.

I recently did cedar planked salmon with stuffed poppers and it turned out great.  In keeping with the requirements for all card carrying members of this cult of Big Green Egg owners, I took before and after pictures and felt compelled to share them and the recipe.

  • I prepped the egg and got her up to ~300 degrees with an indirect setup.  I didn't use any wood chips or chunks with the Salmon.  It's a pretty delicate meat and you can over smoke it.  The smokey flavor from the burning lump is enough for me.

  • I hit the salmon fillets with some Shakin' the Trees from Dizzy Pig BBQ. This is a pretty versatile rub that I like on chicken, fish, & veggies.

  • I placed the salmon on cedar planks that I'd soaked for about a half an hour

  • The salmon cooked on the Big Green Egg for ~ 1 hr.  Don't turn it.  It's so flaky it would come apart if you tried.

Here it is going on the Egg.

And here it is about an hour later.

And one more.



So go ahead and mix up your menu a little.  I think you'll find this a tasty diversion.



Pulled Pork on the Big Green Egg

Pulled pork is one of the cornerstones of BBQ. Luckily, it's also one of the easiest things to do. There are some variations on the ingredients in pulled pork but the most important one is patience.  Remember BBQ is cooked low and slow and it's done when it's done.

Here's how I prepare pulled pork:

  • Start with a whole pork butt.  Sometimes you'll find these called Boston Butt, bone in butt, etc. and they typically run 6-8lbs.
  • Slather the entire butt with cheap yellow mustard.  Not dijon, not Grey Poupon, not spicey; just simple yellow mustard.   You won't taste this and it really just serves to bind the rub to the meat.
  • Liberally apply the rub of your choice.  There are a couple of commercially available rubs that I like.  If you don't already have a favorite, I'd recommend Dizzy Pig's Dizzy Dust or Bad Byron's Butt Rub.  Personally, I can't tell much difference in doing this much in advance of starting your pit, but I'll leave that up to you.
  • 20081216_0250_smallFire up your pit for indirect cooking with a drip pan and get your temperature settled in to about 250 degrees.  I leave the drip pan empty.  To me, it's just for catching the drippings.  Note:  if you're using a cooker with a water pan, then I'd add water to the pan.
  • Put your butt on and settle in for a long cook.  I use 1.5 hrs per lb. as an estimate for planning purposes only.  At the end of the day, every cooker is going to cook a little different and so will each piece of meat.  Remember, the meat is done when it's done.  Cook by internal temp of the meat, not the clock.
  • 20090104_0337_smallAfter 4-5 hrs, your butt should be close to 160 degrees internal temperature.  It's in this range, +/- 10 degrees that the internal temperature of the meat will plateau.  Once it plateaus, it can stay there for several more hours.  It's in this plateau that the magic is happening.  The connective tissues are breaking down and the fat is rendering from the meat.  Keep feeding the fire (if needed) and be patient.  While pork is edible at 160 degrees, it ain't done.
  • Once the meat breaks the plateau, the temperature will begin to rise again.  Once it hits 195 degrees internal temperature, it's done.  Wrap it in foil and let it rest for at least an hour.
  • When you're ready to eat (and who wouldn't be by now?), unwrap the butt and it should easily pull apart.  I like to use a couple of forks for pulling the meat apart.  I also discard the bone and any excess fat during this process.
  • Serve it up on cheap white hamburger buns and provide some BBQ sauce as a condiment.
  • Enjoy!

So get out there and get cooking, but remember patience is required to get through that plateau.  Hang in there, the results are worth it.



Tip: Big Green Egg Frozen Shut

Last week, I wrote a post about gasket replacement on the Big Green Egg.  Based on feedback, it's seems like a post on how to get your frozen BGE open is in order.  This is really a pretty simple and there are a couple of ways to go about it.bge_snow

  1. The first method is to remove the ceramic top (You do use your ceramic top to snuff the fire don't you?).  Light a couple of starter cubes and drop them inside.  They'll land on the cooking grate, but should burn long enough and create enough heat to thaw the frozen gasket.

  2. The second method works on similar principals but starts at the other end of the egg.  Light a couple of cubes and shove them through the bottom vent under the fire grate.  Likewise, they should burn long enough to get the job done but with the added benefit of possibly lighting the remaining lump in the BGE (You do use lump charcoal don't you?).  Alternatively, if you light your BGE with a MAPP Torch or something similar you can direct the torch at the fire grate and re-light the remaining lump.

I hope these tips help you out if you find yourself frozen out!


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Big Green Egg Gasket Replacement

As I've said before, my current setup is a large Big Green Egg.  Now I do most of my cooking low & slow but if you cook on a ceramic cooker, then you know that one of things that you can do with this type of cooker is super-high temp searing for steaks and the like.  However, one of the dangers in doing this is the potential to melt the felt gasket that creates the seal between the upper and lower half of the BGE.

There are other scenarios that cause the gasket to tear or otherwise need replacement.  This can happen when the lids feezes shut or becomes fused together as the egg cools off.  In any event, you invariably learn about this condition immediately before your next cook.  Imagine opening the lid to prepare Christmas Eve dinner and tearing your gasket off half way around the lid.  That's exactly what happend to my brother and fellow Big Green Egg owner last week.

Undaunted, he tried to line it up as best he could and soldier on with a couple of 7+ lb. briskets.  He called me in a panic that he couldn't keep the temp below 275°.  The egg was leaking so badly at the tear, that it was acting as a vent and drawing more air through the cooker and keeping the temps up.  We agreed that all he could do was keep the vents closed as much as possible to try to maintain the desired temp and hope for the best.

A shot of the BGE with gasket removed A shot of the BGE with gasket removedWell, I'm happy to report that his Christmas Eve dinner was a succes.  And, the next day he purchased a new gasket and replaced the old one in ~10 minutes.  Replacement is pretty easy, but here are a couple of tips:

  • Remove old gasket completely
  • Use a putty knife or something similar to remove all the residual glue & gasket bits.
  • The new gasket comes as one long piece, so you'll need to dry fit it and cut each half to length.  Measure twice, cut once.
  • Close the lid and let the adhesive cure.
  • Avoid high temp cooks for the first several cooks after gasket replacement.

Additionally, here are a couple of tips to help avoid the issue altogether.

  • Keep the gasket clear of excess BBQ sauce, etc. as much as possible
  • If there's a threat of freezing temps, put parchment or wax paper between the top & bottom halves of the egg.  This will help keep them freezing shut.

Hope you didn't have any near misses for your holiday cook!



Traditional Holiday BBQ Luncheon of Pulled Pork & Beef Brisket

We scheduled a holiday luncheon with my department at work.  Now with nearly 70 folks in the department, I dont’ really have the capacity to BBQ for everyone.  So when we asked everyone to bring  a dish, I thought heck there’s no reason my dish can’t be BBQ.  I’m glad it was too.  While we had lots of other stuff including sandwiches from a local shop, it didn’t stop the team from plowing through an 8 lb. brisket flat and 12 lbs. of pork butt.

I fired up the Big Green Egg on Tuesday night at a little after 8:00pm and got the meat on shortly before 9:00pm.  I kept an eye on it until around midnight before I turned in.  Woke up at 3:00am and took a quick look at the temperature guage, tweaked the lower vent, and was back in bed in about 10 minutes.  Got up at 6:00am and took my first reading of the meat temp.  Brisket came off the BGE at 7:45am and the butts about an hour later.  I wrapped them in foil, stuck them in a cooler, and sliced the brisket and pulled the butts right before lunch at 11:30am.

Everyone seemed to enjoy the BBQ as well as the opportunity to hang out and celebrate the holidays.  I know I did.

BBQ Beef on the Big Green Egg

Chuck Roast with a load of ABT's Chuck Roast with a load of ABT'sI personally enjoy pulled pork about as well as any BBQ.  But now and then I need something different.  So, about a year ago I started doing this recipe that really turns out some tasty pulled beef.  Here's the recipe:

  • I buy a package of chuck roast from Sam's.  There are two in a package, usually totalling ~8 lbs. or so.
  • I hit them with a good dose of Dizzy Pig's Raising the Steaks or something similar.
  • Setup up your cooker for indirect cooking and stabilize the temperature at 250 degrees.  On the Big Green Egg, this means use the platesetter with the drip pan under the cooking grate.
  • BBQ Beef off of the Big Green Egg BBQ Beef off of the Big Green EggPut the chuckies on over a drip pan and let them cook until they reach an internal temperature of ~160 degrees.
  • Once they reach 160 degrees, put them into a foil pan, add a can of beer (I sometimes use apple juice instead), cover the pan with with aluminum foil, and put them back on the cooker.
  • When they reach 190 degrees, they should be tender enough to pull like a pork butt.  Insert a fork and give it a twist.  If it twists easily, they're done.Drain the beer, pull them apart (discarding the fatty parts), and add sauce.
  • I like to put the sauced beef back on the cooker uncovered for another hour or so.
  • Serve it up on hamburger buns and enjoy!

Total cook time for this is about 5-6 hrs.  I love having this in the fridge for sandwhiches.  If you haven't tried BBQ or pulled beef, you should definitely give it a shot.



The Kamado Style Cooker

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, Kamado, California Kamado, Primo, Grill Dome all make a kamado style cooker.

There are many advantages to this style of cooker:

  • 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.

  • 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.

Of course there are some drawbacks to any product, and the kamado style cooker 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.

  • Portability - These things are heavy.  As such, they're not great for tailgating, camping etc.

As I mentioned in a previous post, my current setup for BBQ is a large Big Green Egg.  Personally, I find that the advantages to a ceramic cooker grossly outweigh the disadvantages.  Having said that, I do find myself wondering what my next cooker will be.  I think I'll always have a BGE, but I could see adding something to my aresenal for larger cooks.  A Stumps maybe....or an FEC-100?  Stay tuned!




BBQ Beef Ribs

So I woke up Sunday morning....wait, I think that's a song. In any event, not only did I have the urge to cook Sunday, but I wanted to cook something different. Knowing that I didn't have 12+ hours to undertake a major low & slow cook, I decided that I'd try to do some beef ribs. Now I turn our a pretty mean rack of baby backs and I've even turned out some decent spares, but I'd never really tried my hand with beef ribs. I've looked them over a number of times and frankly I'm intimidated by the brontosaurus sized monsters.

Nevertheless, I picked up a rack of Beef Back Ribs and decided to give it a whirl. I prepped these just like I would pork ribs for the most part. I removed the membrane and trimmed any excess fat. However, I slathered them with EVOO (instead of yellow mustard) and I used Mesquite rub from The Goode Company in Texas. It's sort of a modified Montreal type rub that I like on beef. I set up the Big Green Egg for low & slow, got my fire stabilized at 250 degrees, and had the meat on by 11:30am.

I was really surprised at how quickly the beef ribs progressed. By 4:00 they were done. In fact, I might have left them on a little too long. I didn't foil these ribs as I normally do with pork ribs, but I'm not sure it was necessary as the fat rendered off these things amazingly well.  I hit them with a little BBQ sauce about 30 minutes before I pulled them.  They were tasty and I enjoyed them for a change of pace.  However, I'm glad that I put on a beef chuck roast for pulled beef.  I've got plenty of that for leftovers this week. (I also threw some ABT's on, but we'll cover those in a later post).

All in all, I'd say the beef ribs were pretty good.  If you're looking for something a little different, you should give them a shot.


Big Green Egg Rain Gear

As I mentioned in an earlier post, my current cooker is a large Big Green Egg.  I love to cook on this thing whether I'm grilling or smoking.  However, like most outdoor cooks I find myself battling the elements from time to time.  I’ve never had a downpour completely wash out a cook, but I do try to take preventative measures when I get caught in the rain.  Most of the time that means trying to build a rain fly for the daisy wheel on the BGE and trying to keep it on the leeward side of the garage.  This works okay as long as the wind isn’t gusting too bad.

Now I have a good friend and neighbor who enjoys the fruits of the egg nearly as much as I do and has witnessed my hurried construction of a makeshift aluminum foil rain fly a couple of times.  So last night he presented me with a solution to the problem as an early barfday present.  No longer will I be scrambling for aluminum foil and performing speed origami with it when the rain begins to fall.

Here are a couple of shots of my new rain gear.  Place your orders now if you’d like one before Christmas!  Everyone knows that we consume more cream of mushroom soup & canned salmon during the holidays than any other time of year!  :)



Braddog's BBQ Journey

Pig n Chik BBQ SandwichGrowing up in the southern half of the US, I’ve always loved good BBQ.  Now BBQ in the south has lots of variations (we’ll cover that in a later post), but I grew up with a taste for Memphis style BBQ.  For the uninitiated, Memphis style BBQ is slow smoked with a dry rub.  BBQ Sauce is strictly a condiment and pulled pork sandwiches are served with a sweet slaw.


 But I digress.  My uncle was the family BBQ’er and he became a pretty fair hand at smoking turkey, beef etc.  But I don’t think he ever pulled off really good pork butt.  It was after I got married that I decided to try my hand at BBQ.

I started, like a lot of people do, with a Brinkmann bullet-type, water smoker.  I tried both the charcoal & electric varieties.  I turned out some decent chicken, but really good pork butt & ribs eluded me.  I decided that I must need a better cooker, so I moved up to an off-set New Braunfels.  This was an impressive looking unit compared to the bullet smoker and much more involved.  I could make the entire neighborhood crave BBQ with the smell of hickory smoke, but still good pork butt & ribs eluded me.  In fact, I sold the pit and gave up the quest for a couple of years.

About 5 years ago, I decided that I would try to do pulled pork for the family reunion.  My dad had a brand new gas smoker that he’d never used and offered it up for my use.  I had spent my BBQ exile reading a lot of information on the internet about BBQ and knew that I probably hadn’t approached the elusive pork butt & ribs the right way.  So when this presented with this opportunity, I was prepared.  In fact, that day was a defining moment for my BBQ career.  When I put a huge tray of pulled pork on that buffet table and saw the reaction of my extended family, I was hooked.

2007 05 27 004

That year, my bride presented me with a gas smoker of my own and we enjoyed some really nice BBQ over the next couple of summers.  But with my interest growing, I couldn’t enjoy this hobby in the winter using the cooker that I had due to the winter weather we have in the mid-west.  It was about this time that a co-worker introduced me to the Japanese Kamado style cooker.  Cold weather, rain, wind, none of these were a problem with the ceramic cookers.  After 6 months of yearning for a ceramic cooker, I acquired my large Big Green Egg.  This is what I cook on today and it affords me year round enjoyment of my favorite past time and favorite food.       

The journey has been a lot of fun.  Like many folks, I’ve always got my eye on my next cooker.  When I know what the next destination is on my BBQ journey, you’ll be the first to know.



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