Archive for June, 2011

Upgrading the Big Green Egg & Replacing the Gasket;’s Gasket & Fire Grate

Saturday, June 4th, 2011

Nearly 5 years ago, I wrote a post all about the details of owning a Big Green Egg. Quite popular, but it needs to be updated as I’ve learned much since then. This is the first in what’ll likely be a series of articles outlining some upgrades and details of Big Green Egg ownership.

BGE Upgrade Kit; New Gasket & FIre Grate
High-Que’s Upgraded Fire Grate & Gasket.

There are two common complaints that I’ve heard from many Big Green Egg owners. The first is that, after years of ownership, it is harder and harder to get the egg past ~350 degrees or so (500 – 750 needed to do proper sears or cook a pizza). In particular, the fire grate included with the BGE is a big metal plate with a bunch of ~3/4″ holes drilled in it. It just doesn’t let a lot of air through to start with and, after years of use, any kind of ash build up and/or clogging of the holes in the ceramic firebox leads to even less air getting through.

Related, for those that do achieve high heat on a semi-regular basis, the factory installed woolen gasket quickly wears out.

Fortunately, there exists who specializes in upgraded components for the Big Green Egg. Pictured at left is their upgraded fire grate and their Nomex based high-heat replacement gasket.

For BGE owners, I cannot recommend these two products highly enough. Gasket upgrades have been around for quite a while, but most involved spray adhesive or fireplace-safe adhesive combined with a gasket that would often fray, leaving the risk of metal bits in your food (most of the gaskets were really re-purposed oven or kiln gaskets). High-Que’s gaskets are more like the original BGE gasket in physical design, but are much more durable and can withstand a higher heat. Like the original gasket, High-Que’s uses a high-heat adhesive backing that is exposed by removing a bit of paper; no toxic spray-on adhesives involved.

High-Que’s fire grate is equally as well considered & built. It is a very heavy gauge stainless steel grate that will not clog and allows for much greater air flow. As it comes with a 5 year warranty, clearly High-Que believes the product works.

Venison/Beef Burgers
Venison/Beef Burgers Seared Beautifully.

And it does. The combination of the two products has vastly improved the cooking experience with my BGE; it is easier to light, achieves a higher temperature faster (literally, takes about 12-15 minutes to reach ~600 degrees whereas I had a hard time cracking 400 without a fan before the upgrade), and the gasket looks like it is going to last much longer than the BGE wool gaskets (I won’t know for sure for another ~6 months or so).

And there was a fringe benefit that was a nice surprise; every BGE owner who has cooked at high heat has learned through quite a bit of hair loss that you have to “burp” your egg when opening it at temperatures greater than ~500. If you don’t, this rather ominously beautiful cloud of flames (seriously — check out this set o’ photos!!) will burst out of the egg and take all your arm hair right off!

With the increased air flow of the High-Que grate, the Egg doesn’t exhibit anywhere near the same degree of flashback as long as the bottom vent is wide open. What a nice surprise! To be clear, the egg will still flashback if the bottom vent is closed or if you open too rapidly at high heat, but the problem is vastly reduced!

Replacing the gasket is a bit of a chore. Click through for full details. Since the Egg needs to come apart for this anyway, a full cleaning is in order, too. Read the rest of this entry »