Follow me on the web
Powered by Squarespace
Search this site

Subscribe to email updates:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Entries in Kamado (7)

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 

Tuesday
Sep152009

Recipe: Pineapple Shrimp Kabobs

Every year, our neighborhood puts on a block party.  There's always lots of side dishes and someone is drafted to grill burgers, brats, & hot dogs.  This year, I decided to take something  a little different to the party.  I pondered my patience for putting together dozens of ABT's, stuffing a half dozen fatties, or grilling a hundred chicken wings.

In the end, I decided pineapple shrimp kabobs would be super easy, colorful, and significantly different from the appetizers that I typically churn out on one of the Kamado style cookers that I use.

So here's how I put them together:

  • 100 frozen shrimp (defrosted of course)
  • Cut red, orange, and yellow bell peppers into pieces ~1" sq.
  • Prepare pineapple into ~1" cubes
  • Alternate shrimp, pineapple, & peppers on bamboo skewers (I did 2 shrimp per skewer)
  • Grill over a hot fire
  • I applied a warm mango salsa that I picked up at Sam's Club.
  • Enjoy!

Tip:  Soak the bamboo skewers in water for at least 30 mins. prior to assembling.  Otherwise, they can burn in half over a hot fire.


Cheers,

Braddog

Thursday
May212009

Big Green Egg Ash Pan

bgeeap-3tAs I've mentioned here a number of times, I cook primarily on a Big Green Egg.  For the first two years that I owned this cooker, I simply used a bucket and the BGE ash tool to rake the ashes out of the bottom of the cooker.  That worked great until I built my new egg table.  Now, it's impossible to place bucket under the BGE directly, making ash removal a bit tougher.



bgeeap-5A friend of mine happened to be in the BBQ store recently and came home with tales of an ash pan that was curved to fit the outside of the Big Green Egg.  So, I acquired one of these for myself.  This works like a champ and has made ash removal much easier now the egg is on the new table.

Cheers,
Braddog

Tuesday
Mar172009

Review: Bubba Keg

BubbaKeg-RED-logoIf you're a regular visitor here, you know that I cook on a Big Green Egg.  I've become quite enamored with the Kamado style cooker and it's neat to see that there are a growing number of companies that recognize the benefits of this design and have begun to introduce their own versions.

Recently, I was contacted by the folks over at Bubba Keg.  These are the folks who make travel mugs & coolers shaped like beer kegs.  It seems they have introduced their variation on the Kamado theme.  The basic design isn't much different from the big players in this space but it's constructed of double-walled steel with oven-grade insulation rather than ceramic.  

 

bubba_grill_3

There are a couple of features that I thought were interesting:

  • The cookers comes standard with a few items that are optional on the Big Green Egg:
    • Cast Iron Cooking Great
    • Ash Tool
    • Side tables
  • Then there are a few features that look to be unique to the Bubba Keg
    •   Hitch adapter for transporting the cooker via a standard receiver hitch.  This is very cool and makes the cooker ideal for tailgating, camping, etc.
    • A metal stand with large wheels.  The small wheels on the BGE nest are problematic when moving the cooker.
    • It's also lighter than the ceramic cookers, but I guess that makes sense given the construction.
    • This thing even comes with a built in bottle opener!

There are a few things that I'd like to know more about.  There's no mention of a platesetter or an accessory to create the barrier between the cooking crate and the fire.   This seems pretty common on the competitors.  In fairness, I've never tried to smoke without the platesetter on the BGE but it makes sense to me to have a barrier between the food and the fire.  I'd also like to get a better look at the detachable tables and the top damper.  I can't tell from their website or video what those parts are constructed of.

Bubba Keg is making an effort to introduce this style of cooker to a more mainstream audience by partnering with Hope Depot for distribution and in my mind that's a good thing.

I'd sure like to provide a more thorough hands-on review of this cooker so if the folks at Bubba Keg would like to send me one I'd be happy to oblige!  8>)

Cheers,
Braddog

Thursday
Feb052009

Old Kamado Style Cookers

I've written before about the Kamado style cooker.  Well recently I found this post over at the Pickled Pig and thought it was worth sharing.  It just demonstrates that there's lots of different implementations of the Kamado clay/ceramic cooker.



Check out the whole post here

Cheers,
Braddog

Monday
Dec082008

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!

 

Cheers,
Braddog

Friday
Nov072008

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.

Cheers,
Braddog